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Microsoft Office 2016 Editions Compared

Microsoft Office 2016 is still the preferred Office suite for a lot of people. While the current version of MS Office is 2019, Office 2016 enjoys ongoing popularity for many reasons. Let’s face it, it’s been many years since Microsoft Office has had any real competitors. There are free office suites on the market that can’t compete. Most Mac users also like to use Office. That’s because Microsoft is in touch with what users are after in an office suite.

The numbers say there are 1.2 billion people using an Office product or service throughout the world. In addition, there are 60 million monthly active Office 365 commercial customers, with 50,000 small business customers added to Office 365 every month. Many of those non-subscription users are still using an older version of Microsoft Office.

For those who still use an older version of Office, many of them prefer using Office 2016, which is still a viable choice. Why? Because Microsoft offers its Office products in editions, which takes into account the specific needs of different types of consumers. Microsoft Office has its finger on the pulse of the software-buying public.

Are Versions and Editions the Same Thing?

No, they aren’t. Most people assume they mean the same thing, but a version is, for instance, Microsoft Office 2019 or Microsoft Office 2016. The build version refers to the specific build of your copy of the Microsoft Office suite. The edition, on the other hand, refers to Home and Student, Professional, etc.

There are several editions of Microsoft Office in every version of the product. Office 95 only came in two editions, Standard and Professional. Office 97 offered Standard, Professional, and Small Business editions. Through the years, the specific editions of Microsoft Office have changed to suit the needs of consumers better. Here are the editions available for PC and Mac in Microsoft Office 2016:

Microsoft Office 2016 for PC

  • Home & Student: This suite includes the core applications only.
  • Home & Business: This suite includes core applications and Outlook.
  • Standard: This suite, only available through volume licensing, includes the core applications, Outlook, and Publisher
  • Professional: This suite includes the core applications, Outlook, Publisher and Access.
  • Professional Plus: This suite, available through volume licensing only, includes core applications, Outlook, Publisher, Access, and Skype for Business.

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac

  • Home & Student: This suite includes the core applications only.
  • Home & Business: This suite includes core applications and Outlook.
  • Standard: This suite, volume licensing only, includes core applications and Outlook.

A Closer Look at Microsoft Office 2016 PC Editions

  • Office 2016 Home and Student - This is the edition of Microsoft Office 2016 that works best for most consumers. If you don’t have a small business or corporation, you don’t need all of the extra stuff included in bigger editions of Office, which means you can save yourself some money and buy Home and Student. This edition includes Word 2016, Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, and OneNote. Perfect for Students, teachers, writers, or casual users who want the main Office products without spending much.
  • Office 2016 Home and Business - Similar to Home and Student. Word 2016, Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, and OneNote are here. The only difference is the addition of Outlook, which makes this ideal for small business owners who want better contact management and scheduling. This is an affordable option for the small business that doesn’t have the budget for the bigger Office suites a corporation needs.
  • Office 2016 Standard - Note that you can only get the Standard edition with volume licensing. It includes Word 2016, Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, Outlook, and Publisher, which is an easy-to-use desktop publishing program for creating flyers, brochures, business cards, and other types of advertising business might need.
  • Office 2016 Professional - This suite includes Word 2016, Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. For businesses that need a database management system, Access is a necessary addition to Office 2016 Professional.
  • Office 2016 Professional Plus - Also available only through volume licensing, this edition of Office 2016 includes Word 2016, Excel 2016, PowerPoint 2016, Outlook, Publisher, and Access. It also adds Skype for Business, which is ideal for businesses that regularly hold company meetings or communicate with customers from around the world. This is an ideal setup for big business and corporations.

Universal Features in office for PC 2016

  • Tell Me Feature: When you are using Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook or Project, Visio, and Access, type anything directly into the app. Tell Me takes you to a step by step through how to do anything. There is also a feature called Delve that uses algorithms to bring together the most relevant information or documents in one place.
  • Ink Equation: Lets you insert equations in Office built-in applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint by handwriting them. Ink Equation is great with a tablet pen on a tablet.
  • Smart Lookup: To find the meaning of a word in your documents, you can now use Bing-powered Smart Lookup in Office 2016. Highlight a word in your document and access the feature to bring in search results from the Internet directly into your document. A sidebar opens in the right section of your screen with details about the selected highlighted text.

Office smart lookup

  • New themes: New themes that include a dark theme. This is less strain on the eyes.
  • Improved Version History: Word, PowerPoint, and Excel let you look at previous snapshots or earlier drafts. You can even edit them if you need to.
  • Clutter-Free Mail in Outlook: Clutter feature in Outlook checks your email habits and utilizes the information to prioritize your mail, pushing low priority messages into a separate folder.
  • Improved Attachments: Attach a document in Outlook from your recent items and share them with the recipients through OneDrive or SharePoint.
  • New Charts: Highlight statistical properties in a document. New chart types in Office 2016 for Word, Powerpoint, Excel include Treemap, Waterfall, Pareto, Histogram, Box and Whisker, and Sunburst.

There’s also simplified sharing and improved cloud integration with OneDrive.

A Closer Look at Microsoft Office 2016 Mac Editions

  • Office Home and Student 2016 for Mac - This is as basic as it gets. It’s also a highly affordable way for teachers, students, writers, and casual users to get their hands on a powerful office suite without getting more than they need. Includes Microsoft Word for Mac 2016, Excel for Mac 2016, and PowerPoint for Mac 2016. Also includes OneNote
  • Office Home and Business 2016 for Mac - As with the PC edition of Office, this edition offers communication and contact management with the addition of Outlook. Includes Word for Mac 2016, Excel for Mac 2016, and PowerPoint for mac 2016. OneNote is also included.
  • Microsoft Standard 2016 for Mac - This includes Word for Mac 2016, Excel for Mac 2016, PowerPoint for Mac 2016, and Outlook. This edition is only available through volume licensing. NOTE: Office for Mac does not include Publisher in any edition.

Universal Features in office for Mac 2016

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac doesn’t have every feature found in PC for Mac, but it finally has enough of everything that Mac users are happy. Anything missing won’t be missed. Reviews say this is an improvement over the Windows counterpart. Microsoft  Office 2016 for Mac was completely rewritten to make it the best possible product it could be. Microsoft included many features that were new to Mac users.

According to Microsoft, about 75 percent of Office for Mac customers are cross-platform users, often using a Mac at home and a PC at work. Now Office for Mac and Office for PC look quite a bit alike, with the Ribbon feature (finally introduced for Mac) looking just like it does in Office for PC.

The colors in Office for Mac now match Windows programs, with Word in blue, Excel green, and PowerPoint in red. You can also choose to use a gray scheme where the colors are more subtle. The pane for finding, opening, and saving files is similar to its Windows counterpart, although a little light on features.

From here you can connect directly to Microsoft's cloud services, OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, and SharePoint. For cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive, you have to sync to a local folder and then open synced files from that location.

The five apps included in Microsoft Office 2016 for the Mac are the important ones. They are  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. If you need Access, Publisher, or one of the other Office for Windows programs, you'll need a Windows PC or Mac that can run Windows virtually.

While we mentioned Microsoft Office 2016 is designed for cross-platform users, there’s still plenty a lot of characteristics of the Mac, so you aren’t going to feel too lonely. All of the resources in Office 2016 for Mac are made for a Retina display, and all of the apps support pinch-zoom and other OS X multitouch gestures. They also work in full-screen mode (a favorite of Mac users).

Mac Office 2016 is missing the Tell Me feature and there isn’t a File Tab on the Ribbon. Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac does have One Drive integration. One odd thing here is that If you open a OneDrive file, you get the Office-like interface, but if you open a Mac file, you will be switched to Mac’s Finder interface and will have to use it to navigate to files stored on your local version of OneDrive. You can easily overlook this, though.

In-Office for Mac Word there is a collaboration feature, but you don’t get to see any changes your co-worker makes until the file is saved. It’s handy to be able to collaborate, but it isn’t “real-time” collaboration. If you need to collaborate, however, the feature is there and works well.

There is also a new Styles pane that allows you to apply pre-set styles to text and paragraphs. It's only available only on the Home tab. To use it, go to the Home tab and click the Styles Pane icon on the upper-right of the screen. The pane will appear. If you click the icon again it will disappear.

  • Excel recognizes most Windows shortcuts, but you still have the option of using your favorite Mac shortcuts too. Excel for Mac 2016 has also been graced with many of the features found in Excel for PC.
  • PowerPoint has Animations Pane and Presenter View added. PowerPoint also has the same collaboration features as Word for Mac, but again, not in real-time.
  • Outlook for Mac has gotten a nice aesthetic facelift too. It looks more like the Windows version and there is a lot less clutter. Links to a calendar, notes, contacts, and tasks are not buried beneath the mailboxes on the left-hand pane but now appear in big type at the bottom of the screen, making it easy to find.

Tips for Choosing the Right Edition of Microsoft Office 2016 

Consider your needs and your budget. There is no need to pay for more than you need. If you are a student, then get the Home and Student edition. This will not only save you a great deal of money, but you also won’t be stuck paying for a lot of programs and features you will never use. If you are a small business owner, you might be able to get away with the Home and Business edition.

TIP: Home and Student are not licensed for commercial use, so if you are a small business owner, you will need to buy the Home and Business edition, which will better suit your needs anyway. Home and Business are licensed for commercial use.

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