Office 365 ProPlus is the most collaborative and secure version of Microsoft Office available today, and its cloud-based update delivery model means new features and patches are released all the time.
It’s taken some time for businesses to move on from the old perpetual ‘one-time’ release model of Office 2016 and Office 2019, but Office 365 ProPlus’s regular updates, and monthly new features that continuously add to its AI, collaboration and security capabilities is becoming harder to ignore.
We pinpoint the top Office 365 ProPlus business benefits for your users (not just your IT team), the many exclusive capabilities it has over traditional versions like Office 2019, and why now is the time to take advantage of it.
1. ProPlus gives you new features and updates automatically and forever
If you have Office 365 ProPlus, you automatically get the best and latest feature upgrades, capabilities and security patches for any home or work device you have ProPlus installed on thanks to its cloud-connected delivery model.
You also never have to worry about it becoming outdated and needing to pay upfront for another license.
We see many customers still confused about this major benefit - and it’s important to realise you’re not just getting some standard updates that fix bugs or patch vulnerabilities. Office ProPlus gives you regular full new features that perpetual versions of Office will never have, like:
Office 365 Groups
Office 365 ProPlus has so far received over 120 new features and capabilities since the original release of Office 2016 on September 2015 to April 2018 - and all of these are not in Office 2016.
Meanwhile, while Office 2019 has recently released, its new enhancements are just a subset of the longer list of features added to Office 365 ProPlus over the past three years.
In other words, it has just a fraction of ProPlus’s features - and over three years late.
Many of these intelligent services are powered by the cloud and only available to ProPlus users (and higher tier Office versions such as Business and Enterprise) - part of Microsoft’s continuing push towards cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions for the foreseeable future.
2. It’s easier to collaborate with ProPlus - remotely and in the same room
As a cloud-connected software suite, Office 365 ProPlus has several subscriber-only collaboration features that enhance the tools of standard Office.
All of these Azure-integrated features help teams to work together on the same Word or PowerPoint file and share them with each other more seamlessly - and none of them are available with Office 2016 and Office 2019.
Some of the top-used ProPlus collaboration features the team at Xello use include:
- @mentions is a fast and easy way to get a co-worker’s attention, either via email or a meeting invite. All you have to do is type the @ symbol and their name, and Outlook will automatically add them to the recipients list or meeting invite, with their names highlighted in the message.
- Co-authoring lets you open any Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint and Word document shared with you to see if anyone else is working on the document at the same time, and see any changes they’re making live. You can collaborate in real-time by making your own edits, with everything from both parties tracked.
- Office 365 Groups lets you choose people you want to collaborate with and set up an easy collection of resources for permitted users to share, such as calendars, document libraries, and a shared Outlook inbox. You don’t have to manually assign permissions, as all users in an automatically get permission to access the tools your group lists. Groups can be created in different Office apps and serve many different purposes; Outlook groups, for example, are great for sharing calendar and email resources, while Teams is best for chat-based collaboration.
Because ProPlus subscriptions come with 1TB OneDrive Storage and you also get more licenses for multiple installs compared to standalone Office, your users can more easily work and share from home, in the office or on-the-go with enough storage to ensure your critical files are available whenever and wherever you use or share it.
Users will also be able to install all of the essential Office apps they need to do their work on multiple devices instead of just one - which directly leads into the next top business benefit of ProPlus.
3. ProPlus users can install on more devices per license
Think back to the traditional way of buying Office for one second.
You go to the store, purchase a CD or software key, and install Office 2016 or Office 2019 on your computer.
That’s one standalone product that offers one license for one device - you have to buy another if you to have the Office suite on other computers or mobile devices.
It’s essentially a snapshot of Office at one point in time, not an ever-evolving rolling modern product.
Thankfully, this isn't the only option anymore, yet we see plenty of confusion around this truth.
Office 365 ProPlus and other Office 365 subscription tiers are a lot more flexible in both cost and licensing for users. Instead of going to the store, you purchase a Microsoft 365 subscription online and pay $19.14 per user, per month and get access to a Click-to-Run download package.
You then install Office 365 ProPlus and all of its applications on up to 5 PCs or Macs - meaning users are not locked to using the Office package you just bought on just one device, like before.
In addition, your ProPlus subscription lets your users install Office on up to 5 tablets and 5 smartphones (Android, iPad, Windows and all modern mobile devices), a major advantage over traditional Office which cannot be understated - why be locked to just one device anymore?
4. ProPlus gets exclusive intelligent services powered by the cloud
Users of Office 365 ProPlus gain access to subscriber-only, Office 365 features because of its cloud-based model, in the form of intelligent services. ProPlus uses Microsoft online services and AI to intelligently provide context to your work, and plenty of them deserve a closer look.
- Animated 3D Graphics is a feature in Word and PowerPoint for Office 365 ProPlus that lets you embed animated 3D graphics into your work, each with preset animations and scenes, for additional flair to your work that’s easy and seamless to use.
- Ideas in Excel is an intelligent cloud service integrated in Microsoft Excel that helps users better understand data with high-level visual summaries, patterns and trends. Displayed in a separate pane, all you have to do is click a cell in a data range and Excel analyses the data, and generates helpful visuals about what you’ve highlighted in the Ideas pane.
- PowerPoint Designer is an intelligent cloud service integrated in Microsoft PowerPoint that generates design ideas for your slides based upon the content of your slides, displayed as suggestions in a separate pane. It also detects charts, pictures and tables on a slide and provides professional layout suggestions for how to arrange them for a cohesive look. Its SmartArt Graphics can also transform text, such as lists or timelines, into neat graphics.
- PowerPoint QuickStart is another intelligent cloud service integrated in Microsoft PowerPoint that helps users by creating an outline to get them started with research on a particular subject. It generates two slides of information from online sources, providing facts and related topics to research, along with a slide for each subject, additional talking points, and full source citations.
- Researcher is an intelligent cloud service integrated in Microsoft Word that uses Bing to pull in relevant content from the Web and provide structured, safe and credible information. This helps users find and cite reliable academic sources for written content such as reports and project documentation without having to actually leave the MS Word interface.
Why not choose Office 2019 over ProPlus?
The big disadvantage going forward for users with Office 2019 or older perpetual licenses like Office 2016 is you will only have access to what is shipped with the standalone product.
Aside from occasional critical updates, you don’t get new features like you do with Office 365.
Even with Office 2019 now released, it still does not have several of these aforementioned new 120 capabilities added to Office 365 since Office 2016 launched years ago.
ProPlus users have been able to enjoy these new additions for as long as three years without having to wait.
Yes, Office 2019 did get Learning Tools in Outlook and Word and Outlook, and Morph and Zoom in Powerpoint.
No, it doesn’t and won’t ever get Office 365's best upgrades - namely, its intelligent security features, machine learning capabilities, real-time collaboration and search functions.
Why? It all comes back to the licensing delivery model; Office 365 is cloud-based and subscription-based, and these features rely on Microsoft Cloud servers to be delivered.
Office 365 ProPlus top user benefits: Key takeaways
Office 2019’s perpetual licensing is a once-off, standalone purchase and product, which eventually becomes outdated - and its support policies will soon be reduced to 5 years.
If you’re still on the fence about which version to get, free automatic upgrades and monthly feature updates - which ensures your users get access to every Office improvement released - is a hard advantage to ignore.
None of these major user benefits are available with Office 2016 or Office 2019, and with the growing importance of a Modern Workplace, ProPlus is definitely the optimal choice for enterprises who want their users to fully leverage the broader productivity and mobility benefits of Azure Cloud.