Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus is an essential Software as a Service (SaaS) package for today's modern digital workplace - yet there is a surprising amount of confusion about how it differs from Office 2019.
Updated in May 2020
If your business has a Microsoft Office 365 subscription, you most likely already have usable licenses for Office 365 ProPlus, rendering any need to buy the standalone, perpetual license for Office 2019 void.
This article covers how Office 365 ProPlus is different to Office 2019 in terms of feature-set, cost-effectiveness, future-proofing and benefits - and why it's the right time to move to leverage Microsoft 365 for a better digital workplace.
What is Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus?
Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus is a version of Office available through your active Microsoft Office 365 subscription and installed from the cloud on your local computer, smartphone or tablet device. All users need is an Office 365 account and an active connection to the Internet to verify any assigned licenses and get started with its apps suite.
ProPlus is Click-to-Run and doesn’t need an active Internet connection to verify its license - it only needs to connect once every 30 days, otherwise your license is changed to reduced functionality mode until it is verified again.
Office 365 ProPlus is essentially the always-up-to-date version of the Microsoft Office suite and its apps. If your organisation already has an enterprise or business subscription with Microsoft 365, you're already likely to have ProPlus or a similar version of Office that has all the features, functionality and benefits of Office 2019 - and more.
Office 365 ProPlus is Office 2019
If you expected Office 2019 to have a bunch of new features that differentiate it from Office 365, think again.
Businesses and users with Office 365 subscription basically already have Office 365 ProPlus and all the features Office 2019 has now, in addition to several key upgrades the standalone version will never have.
According to Microsoft (via ComputerWorld):
“Office 2019 will include some, but not all, features that have been released through Office 365 since September 2015.”
Again, Office 365 Pro Plus has all of Office 2019’s current feature-set in addition to regular, cumulative feature upgrades and patch updates that make it the most up-to-date version of Office available for enterprises right now.
Backed by the cloud and cumulative updates, Office 365 ProPlus has a clear advantage that cannot be ignored for much longer if you're currently assessing Office upgrade options that will be both cost-effective and future-proof.
Office 365 ProPlus is the complete package
Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus essentially offers the full Office package and is available via your Microsoft 365 subscription - the only difference you need to understand is the way it’s delivered to devices and updated for users.
As a user-based subscription service powered by Microsoft Cloud, ProPlus receives regular feature upgrades, quality updates and security patches which are automatically delivered to the user. It and also grants users access to additional cloud services, making it more ideal than Office 2019 to achieve a modern digital workplace.
Office 365 ProPlus currently bundles all core Office productivity applications in one subscription-based Click-to-Run package for PC and Mac. The current complete software suite for Office 365 Pro Plus includes:
- Access (PC only)
- OneDrive for Business
- Publisher (PC only)
- Skype for Business
These Office apps seamlessly connect and can be used with popular Office 365 cloud services like Exchange Online, Microsoft Teams, Sharepoint Online and Skype Online, across PC, phones and tablets - making it possible to work and share your assets in any location, across multiple devices with Office 365 installed.
Currently, you can get Office 365 ProPlus as part of existing Office 365 subscription plans like Office 365 Enterprise E3, Office 365 Business Premium, or as a standalone subscription for AUD $19.14 per user per month on an annual commitment paid month-to-month or annually.
How is Office 365 ProPlus different from Office 2019?
Office 365 Pro Plus’s primary differentiation and advantage is it’s tied to the user and not the hardware.
ProPlus provides up to 5 concurrent licenses for each user, which means you can install the full Office experience on 5 PCs or Macs on up to 5 tablets and 5 smartphones (Android, iPad, Windows and most modern mobile devices).
The second major difference is how it is provisioned and paid for: Office 365 ProPlus is bought as a subscription-based service on an annual commitment, as part of Microsoft 365. If the subscription is cancelled, there is reduced functionality, and users can’t continue to use several features of the ProPlus suite until it is restored.
|Office 365 ProPlus (Microsoft 365 subscription)||Office 2019 (perpetual licensing)|
|Office Applications||Full Office apps suite included.||Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Powerpoint, Word for Windows or Mac|
|Cost/licensing||Part of M365 subscription or $19.14 user/month (annual commitment)||$249.99 one-time purchase|
|Feature updates||New feature upgrades, quality patches, security fixes||Only required security patches|
|Licensing||5 PCs or Macs, 5 tablets and phones||1 PC or 1 Mac|
|Mobile support||Deploy and update with Intune||N/A|
|Security and compliance||Over 1,000 security and privacy controls, including custom permissions, password policies, security groups||Anti-spam, security patches|
|Storage||1TB of OneDrive for file storage and sharing||N/A|
In comparison, standalone non-subscription versions like Office 2019 are a one-time purchase and locked to a single PC. Everything included with the package is what you get; it doesn’t get any feature updates after you buy and install it aside from quality and security patches. The license does not expire, and users can run it as long as desired.
Office 2019 includes a subset of features also found in Office 365, but it's ultimately not part of Office 365. This is the traditional type of Office installation many users would still be familiar with, which explains the lingering confusion on the branding.
Still not sure about the pros? Learn the top 4 Office 365 ProPlus benefits for business users. Below, we detail why ProPlus is the better option for the modern digital enterprise.
Top Office 365 ProPlus IT benefits
The team at Xello have helped several customers migrate to Microsoft 365 and deploy Office 365 for years - here’s our picks for the biggest benefits Office 365 ProPlus offers your IT team today.
- Active Directory integration: Office 365 ProPlus user permissions can be quickly managed and synchronised with Azure Active Directory (AAD), enabling single-sign on (SSO) for your users which provides an easier login process for everyone to Office overall.
- Click-to-Run: Office 365 Plus has a streamlined installation process that makes it easier and faster for users to get set up, and you can also let local admin-permitted users to install ProPlus manually through a web-based portal. ProPlus is installed as a package, but you can choose to exclude certain programs depending on storage or user needs. Finally, C2R makes updates cumulative, meaning you don’t need to install older patches before installing the latest update.
- Deployment flexibility: You can deploy Office 365 ProPlus to your work devices in multiple ways that best suit your current state of digital transformation - with the Office Deployment Tool (ODT) or System Center Configuration Manager (SSCM) for on-premise deployments, or via the Office Content Delivery Network (CDN) and ODT for deployment from the Microsoft Cloud.
- File-sharing and storage integration: All ProPlus applications seamlessly integrate with Microsoft Cloud’s file-sharing and storage services such as OneDrive (and get 1TB storage), making it easy to back-up, access and share business-critical assets easier and from any work location.
- Group Policy: ProPlus program settings can be managed through the same Group Policy settings your business uses with other versions of Office currently installed on work devices.
- Latest updates: Because it receives feature updates on an ongoing basis, Office 365 ProPlus is one of the most feature-rich and secure versions available for enterprises. Feature updates are automatic by default, but can be changed by system admins to only allow updates based from a location within the user’s network, after testing or manage updates using SSCM. You can also control how frequently users get updates for Office apps; semi-annual or monthly.
- More licenses: ProPlus gives up to five licenses with each subscription, allowing you to have it installed across traditional desk-bound computers and mobile work laptops to enable a digital workplace on-the-go. One thing often misunderstood is you also get to install ProPlus on up to 5 smartphones and tablets with the same subscription, with support for almost all modern devices.
- Workplace mobility: As a cloud-based subscription service, ProPlus gives you more options when it comes to which work devices are granted access to ProPlus’s suite of apps. Instead of Office and its vital applications being locked to a desktop computer, it can be licensed to a user’s work laptop or tablet, allowing them to view and edit documents on-the-go securely.
One thing to note is Office 365 ProPlus is completely separate from Office Online. The latter service is included with all Office 365 plans and allows users to access certain applications through Web browsers and is meant to be a compliment to the Click-to-Run versions of Pro Plus installed locally on your computer or mobile devices.
Why you should use Office 365 ProPlus instead of Office 2019
If you have Office 365 ProPlus, you essentially already have Office 2019's entire feature-set and more.
ProPlus has the added benefit of automatic and cumulative feature upgrades, whereas Office 2019 will never receive any new new features added, just required security patches. If Microsoft release another standalone edition, you would also need to pay another up-front fee for it.
Through its constant cumulative updates, Office 365 ProPlus had most of the features Office 2019 shipped with years earlier. If you already have ProPlus, Office 2019 is redundant and less future-proof than the former option.
Another big reason to consider Office 365 ProPlus for your business over Office 2019 is the latter only has seven years of support compared to Office 2016, which received a full decade.
Microsoft won't support connection to cloud-based services like Exchange and OneDrive for Office 2019 in the second half of its already shortened support lifecycle.
This means while you can still continue to use Office 2019 just fine, you will not be able to connect any of its applications to Exchange Online, Microsoft Azure or OneDrive for Business after 2023. Considering the strengths of these services, it’s an unnecessary disadvantage.
Who is Office 2019 actually for?
Microsoft Office 2019 is a product specifically geared toward volume-licensed commercial customers with a very specific need for on-premises or hybrid software deployment - or who are not yet ready for cloud-based software.
The move to the cloud is a journey, and if your organisation is not yet prepared for digital transformation, Office 2019 may make sense. However, it is important to note Office 2019 is not a future-proof platform by any means.
Microsoft are undoubtedly steering customers towards Office 365 and the subscription-based model, as it allows them to update it with upgrades and patches constantly. Given Office 2019’s support period will end on 14 October 2025 - the same day Office 2016 support ends - there’s a strong argument to make that the perpetual-licensed Office suite purchase model is coming to an end and that the cloud-backed Office 365 ProPlus is the main way forward.
If you already bought Microsoft 365 subscription, you already have Office 365 ProPlus - you don’t need Office 2019.
Based on Microsoft's aggressive push towards Microsoft 365, Office 2019 will most likely be the last perpetual licensing version of Office available. With no feature upgrades possible, half the support life-cycle and an early cut-off from cloud services, it’s clear Office 365 ProPlus is a much better option for businesses that want to stay future proof.
Have you started your move to Office 365 ProPlus?