At a very basic level, Microsoft Office is software that you purchase outright, while Office 365 is a subscription service. The key differences between Office 365 and Office 2016 are in the costs, features, and benefits of the different options.


When you buy the latest version of Microsoft Office, currently 2016, you have the right to install it on one laptop, PC, or Mac. If you have other devices, you have to buy a separate license for each.

With Office 365, you can install the software on up to 5 devices (for the same user). So you can have it on your desktop, your laptop, your smartphone, and your tablet. And still have the option to put it on another device should you have one.

Business users often switch between devices, especially if they work in the office and at home. Office 365 has the flexibility to allow for each user to utilise the technology they have at hand, without additional fees.

Upgrades & Lifespan

Many businesses don’t upgrade their versions of Microsoft Office with every single new release because you have to buy the software all over again. Sometimes the new features just aren’t worth the cost of buying an upgrade for every user – especially when you realise you won’t get any features that might be added after you install the software. The 2013 version has just been replaced by 2016, but if you’re thinking up upgrading, you might be better off with Office 365.

With 365 you don’t pay extra for upgrades – no additional fees at all. Your monthly subscription covers all major upgrades, as well as smaller feature updates.

Each software product has a lifespan, that’s why 2013 has been replaced by 2016. Over time, the older a product is, the less support it’ll get from Microsoft. At first you’ll get bug fixes and patches to download, but eventually, support and maintenance for the product will stop. At that point, it’s generally necessary for fork out for that upgrade.

Because Office 365 is continually upgraded, you’ll always be on the latest version, which means you’ll always have a fully supported and maintained product.


Microsoft Office doesn’t have any support included – apart from a small amount of help on offer if you have a problem during installation. Conversely, Office 365 offers chat and phone support at no extra charge.

If dealing with Microsoft isn’t possible (either because you don’t have 365, or you don’t get the service you need from the helpdesk), you can always access outside support from an IT company like Equity – we only mention it because it’s possible to be supported whether or not you choose Office 365 and we think that’s worth knowing.

Additional Features

Office 365 comes with 1TB of storage for each user, in OneDrive for Business. As a cloud platform, it allows for easy collaboration and sharing between colleagues, making group working easier and more effective. 365 also includes 60 minutes per month of international Skype calls


A copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2016 costs around £390 per user.

Office 365 for Business costs from £3.10 to £7.80 per user per month, depending on the features you need.


If you’re not sure which version of Office is best for you, give us a call and we’ll give you expert, independent advice. We’re happy to support either platform, so we don’t have a vested interest in sending you to one or the other.