Learn everything you need to know about Microsoft’s productivity guide. This page is your all-in-one knowledge base for everything Office. Learn the basics and get familiar with the suite before making your purchase to ensure you get the most value for your buck.
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What is Microsoft Office?
Microsoft Office is a collection of desktop, web, and mobile productivity applications. It’s available in different versions for client and server-side software, depending on your needs. The classic suite includes industry-standard apps such as Microsoft Word and Excel, while higher-end releases provide customers with premium services like Skype for Business.
The suite was designed to help automate tedious manual tasks and make your life easier. Today, it’s so much more. Microsoft Office has become one of the most recognized names in the software industry for its powerful and intuitive applications.
Microsoft Office has grown to become more than just a collection of applications used in enterprise environments. Whether you need an app to type up an essay for your school project, create an animated presentation, make a birthday invitation card, or need to organize a huge database, different Office applications can help you accomplish anything.
Blast from the past: Microsoft Office then and now
In the past, Microsoft Office looked a lot different than what you’re used to now. However, the initial versions set a strong foundation for the suite, as core features and principles are still in use to this day.
At first, Office only included the three applications we refer to as “classic Office apps” now: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Today, users who purchase Office have a chance to get access to many more applications specifically created to easily accomplish different tasks. Some of these apps and services include Microsoft Access, Sharepoint, and Outlook.
Today, over a billion people utilize Microsoft Office in their day-to-day life to accomplish a variety of goals. While Office is still powerful in a business setting, it helps you organize and keep track of matters of your personal life as well.
What applications are included in Microsoft Office?
Microsoft Office offers a wide variety of applications that essentially make up the purpose of this family. Unless stated otherwise, all of the following applications are available on desktop computers that run either Windows or macOS.
Microsoft Word is a word processor that helps you produce and publish professional documents. Have a flexible way of sharing documents, or working together with others using real-time co-authoring. Word allows you to create a variety of beautiful documents with ease.
Capable of handling hundreds of thousands of data cells, Excel is your go-to spreadsheeting app. Perform complex calculations while visualizing your data with customizable charts and graphs. Excel is the perfect choice when you need easy-to-use yet professional capabilities in regards to managing any form of data.
PowerPoint lets you create presentations and slideshows. Display text, various forms of media, implement animations and transitions to convey your point to the audience. Work with embed content such as images, videos, icons, links, and 3D objects. PowerPoint comes with an integrated presenter to make public speaking a walk in the park.
The outlook is a personal information manager, made to make your everyday life easier. It integrates the functionality of older Microsoft applications into one powerful program. Users get access to an email client, a calendar, contacts, and addresses, as well as a manager for tasks. Plan meetings, communicate, and never miss your deadlines.
OneNote allows you to keep an organized collection of your notes. Type up pages, make lists, handwriting with digital inking, draw, insert screen clippings or audio files, and easily share notes with others.
Access is software specifically designed for database handling. It offers a graphical interface and software development tools as well.
An excellent publisher software for creating unique design ideas. Utilize a huge roaster of visual elements, elegant and professional layouts, and fonts for your posters, greeting cards, invites, and more.
Skype for Business
Organize and hold online meetings and conferences without having to worry about quality and capacity. Quick and efficient instant messaging allows you to get your message across at a high speed. Availability for integration with other Microsoft software makes Skype for Business the best choice for enterprises.
Microsoft Office versions and editions
With so much to offer, Microsoft released many different editions of the Office suite, making it easier to acquire. A large number of people use Office day-to-day, and the needs of individuals and businesses all over the world vary drastically from one another.
In this section, we listed the key types of Microsoft Office currently available, and what they offer to you as a consumer. Educate yourself before you choose to ensure you get the features you’re looking for and the best value for your money.
Perpetual Microsoft Office
Get Office how it used to be in the good old days. With a one-time purchase, you get access to the essentials of what Office is all about. Even the latest releases, such as Microsoft Office 2019 Home and Student, offer a perpetual license allowing you to acquire the software with only one payment.
Perpetual suites include the classic Office applications to install on one PC only. Additionally, perpetual versions of Office do not receive additional updates — what you buy is what you stay with until you decide to upgrade and make another payment.
Formerly known as Office 365, this subscription-based version of Office has become the leading way of getting access to your favorite apps. Despite being based on monthly or annual payments, Microsoft 365 offers many different plans to allow a large variety of users to take advantage of the suite.
Depending on which edition you purchase, you get access to the classic Office apps and much more. Bonuses include Outlook, Access, Publisher, as well as services such as SharePoint, OneDrive, Skype for Business, and much more. When you subscribe to Microsoft 365, you get access to new updates to all of the applications and services included in your suite.
Don’t want to go through the hassle of installing Office to your devices? Office Online is a perfect choice.
The web-based Office Online service provides users with a lightweight version of several Office apps included in the Microsoft Office suite. What they lack in features, they make up for it with accessibility and availability.
The catch? It’s completely free to use, with 5GB of free storage via OneDrive. Get a taste of what Office has to offer without having to pay a penny, or edit your already existing Office documents on the go from any web browser.
Microsoft Office for Mobile Devices
Smartphones are more capable than ever. Thanks to the improvements and breakthroughs in modern days, Microsoft can offer a mobile version of Office. This suite is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.
Get free access to some of the most desired Office apps on your mobile phone. Although not as feature-packed as the desktop version, Office for mobile still offers a nearly identical visual interface and useful features to edit or view documents on the go.
What is the difference between Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365?
The main difference between Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Office is the licensing and purchasing of the products. Let's review the options of both:
- Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) — With Microsoft 365, you sign up for a subscription-based service. This means that for a monthly or annual fee, you get access to a variety of Office applications for a set period. If a payment is missed, you'll lose access to your software. As opposed to the perpetual Microsoft Office, Microsoft 365 subscribers get unlimited updates and upgrades to the latest app versions at no extra cost.
- Microsoft Office — The perpetual Microsoft Office requires only one payment. More often than not, this version includes fewer applications than Microsoft 365. However, you get unlimited access to the software you purchase; it's yours forever. One thing to note is that users with a perpetual license don't get free updates and upgrades.
Both of these options offer benefits fit for different groups of people. We recommend Microsoft 365 for those who extensively use Office in a work environment, alongside colleagues and team members. It provides more ways to connect, stay up to date, and even have real-time collaboration.
On the other hand, students and individuals who are looking for a solution to school or personal tasks might find the perpetual Microsoft Office a better option. It doesn’t require consistent payments, allowing users to keep the software indefinitely.
The benefits of using Microsoft Office
You might be asking yourself questions such as “Why should I learn how to use Microsoft Office?” or “Is buying Microsoft Office worth it?” We have the answers for you right here. Take a look at the incredible benefits of the application suite and review your needs to make an educated decision.
- Higher productivity. People who utilize Microsoft Office apps tend to become more productive and organized in work environments. These applications come with an immense amount of accessibility features, in-app help, and online tutorials to help you learn and succeed.
- Integration with other apps. The office offers flawless integration within its application suite, as well as many apps from different companies. This creates a seamless workflow no matter how many apps you need to switch between.
- Industry-standard practices. Over the many years of service, Office has become an industry-standard software suite. Each application included offers unmatched compatibility and help when it comes to ensuring your project meets the requirements of different industries.
- Find employers. It’s estimated that over 80% of mid-range jobs require at least general knowledge of Microsoft Office applications. By completing training courses and learning from online articles, you can acquire the skills needed to land your dream job.
Microsoft Office training resources and knowledge base
Are you a beginner? Start with some of our essential guides to learn how to install, activate, and use Microsoft Office:
- How to Use Your Product Keys in Microsoft Office
- How to Install Microsoft Office Updates
- How to Keep Your Data Safe When Using Microsoft Office 365
Power and intermediate users can take advantage of our more advanced guides focusing on useful tricks and tips when it comes to Office:
- Top Cheat Sheets to Help You Master Microsoft Office
- Licensing Guides for Microsoft Office
- Top 11 Reasons You Should Switch to Microsoft 365
About Microsoft Office certifications
For individuals looking to show off their expertise and skills in Office apps, Microsoft offers a variety of official certifications. While jobs often don’t require you to have such qualifications, it might help you land a job to show off your Microsoft seal of approval. Let’s see what you can accomplish by training and learning more about Office.
Microsoft Office Specialist (Fundamentals)
The very first certification you can get. This enables you to demonstrate your abilities with the classic Office apps *Word, Excel, PowerPoint) as well as Access, Outlook, SharePoint, and OneNote. According to Microsoft's statement, a person with this qualification can earn up to USD 16,000 more than workers without it.
Microsoft Office Specialist Expert (Associate)
A Microsoft Office Specialist Expert should know the ins and outs of just about every Office product. To earn this certificate, you need to demonstrate skills above the average user. Accumulate a great understanding of advanced features, and work simultaneously with several apps at a time to quickly accomplish goals.
Microsoft Office Specialist Master (Expert)
If you have this certificate, you're guaranteed to turn heads. People who've earned the Microsoft Office Specialist Master qualification have shown extensive knowledge of Office apps, unmatched by both beginners and advanced users.
How to download Microsoft Office?
Microsoft Office can be downloaded in several ways depending on your purchase. Older versions can even be purchased on physical DVDs, while new releases are strictly downloaded from online sources.
To purchase Office, head to the Microsoft Store or browse the SoftwareKeep store for a deal on all Microsoft Office products.
After your purchase is complete and processed, you’ll be able to download Office onto your computer. You might need to look for this download link in your email account or a user account on the reseller’s website.
Microsoft Office system requirements
These requirements are for the Windows version of Office 2019. Older versions or those on different platforms will have
- Computer and processor: 1.6 gigahertz (GHz) or faster, 2-core
- Memory: 4 GB RAM; 2 GB RAM (32-bit)
- Hard disk: 4.0 GB of available disk space
- Display: 1280 x 768 screen resolution
- Graphics: Graphics hardware acceleration requires DirectX 9 or later, with WDDM 2.0 or higher for Windows 10 (or WDDM 1.3 or higher for Windows 10 Fall Creators Update).
- Operating system: Windows 10 or Windows Server 2019. Product functionality and feature availability may vary on older systems. For the best experience, use the latest version of any operating system specified.
- Browser: The current version of Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, or Firefox
- .NET version: Some features may require .NET 3.5 or 4.6 and higher to also be installed
- Other requirements:
- Internet access is required to install and activate all the latest releases of Office suites. Later, you do not need to be connected to the Internet to use Office applications, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, because the applications are fully installed on your computer.
- A touch-enabled device is required to use any multi-touch functionality. But, all features and functionality are always available by using a keyboard, mouse, or other standard or accessible input device. Note that touch features are optimized for use with Windows 10.
- Product functionality and graphics may vary based on your system configuration. Some features may require additional or advanced hardware or server connectivity.
- Cloud file management features require OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint.
- Microsoft account or Microsoft organizational account required for license assignment.
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Microsoft Office FAQ
What are the minimum system requirements for Office 365 Education?
Computer and processor
- Windows OS: 1.6 GHz or faster, 2-core. 2 GHz or greater recommended for Skype for Business
- macOS: Intel processor
- Windows OS: 4 GB RAM; 2 GB RAM (32-bit)
- macOS: 4 GB RAM
- Windows OS: 4 GB of available disk space.
- macOS: 10 GB of available disk space; HFS+ hard disk format (also known as macOS Extended) or APFS Updates may require additional storage over time.
- Windows OS: 1280 x 768 screen resolution (32-bit requires hardware acceleration for 4K and higher
- macOS: 1280 x 800 screen resolution
- Windows OS: Graphics hardware acceleration requires DirectX 9 or later, with WDDM 2.0 or higher for Windows 10 (or WDDM 1.3 or higher for Windows 10 Fall Creators Update). Skype for Business requires DirectX 9 or later, 128 MB graphics memory, and 32-bits-per-pixel-capable format.
- macOS: No graphics requirements.
- Windows OS: Windows 10 SAC, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2019, or Windows Server 2016. Please note Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise will be supported on Windows Server 2019 or Windows Server 2016 through October 2025.
- macOS: One of the three most recent versions of macOS. When a new version of macOS is released, the macOS requirement becomes one of the then-current three most recent versions: the new version of macOS and the previous two versions.
What happens to the existing Office 365 subscriptions if you switch to Home and Business?
When changing your Office 365 plan, your existing subscription will be canceled or transferred. Different plans come with different licenses, making the change necessary if you want to work in business settings.
What is the best version of Microsoft Office for Windows 10?
We recommend purchasing either Microsoft Office 2019 or subscribing to Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365).
What Office 365 plans are still available?
All of the dynamic Office 365 plans are currently still available in Microsoft 365.
- Office 365 plans for Home:
- Microsoft 365 Personal
- Microsoft 365 Family
- Office 365 plans for Business:
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium
- Microsoft 365 Apps
- Office 365 plans for Enterprise:
- Microsoft 365 E3
- Microsoft 365 E5
- Microsoft 365 F3
- Office 365 plans for Education:
- Office 365 A1
- Office 365 A3
- Office 365 A5
To see all available plans, including regional and government plans, please visit the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plan options page.
What Office apps do I get with Microsoft 365?
Depending on your subscription, you can get up to 10 different Microsoft Office apps. All plans include the classic Word, Excel, and PowerPoint applications, as well as Outlook and OneNote. Other plans may include more applications - make sure to review your choice before committing to purchase a plan.
Who manages the OneDrive account provided with a plan?
Only the user who purchased the subscription can manage the OneDrive account associated with the plan.
Can I get Microsoft Office for free?
Students and teachers at eligible institutions can sign up for Office 365 Education for free. Everyone else can get a 1 month free trial of Microsoft 365, or use the online Office apps for free on Office.com.
How much does Office 2019 cost?
On the official Microsoft website, you can purchase Microsoft Office Home & Student 2019 for USD 114.99. Want a better deal? Check out the SoftwareKeep store where our customers get up to a 30% discount on the product, as well as more deals on perpetual Office 2019 offers.
What is included in Microsoft Office?
Perpetual Office products usually only include the classic applications: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Any additional services and apps are only available in Microsoft 365.
What is the cheapest way to get Microsoft Office?
Many students and teachers are eligible for discounts or even acquire Office for free. The cheapest option for everyone else is purchasing Microsoft Office Home & Student or opting for an older software release such as Office 2016.
How do I install Microsoft Office and Office 365 for free?
The only way to install Microsoft Office for free is by starting your 1-month free trial. Anyone with a Microsoft account can start this trial by visiting the Microsoft website.
Is it worth getting Microsoft Office 2019?
Yes. Buy once, use forever. Microsoft Office 2019 is worth getting if you work from home, or you're a student. It allows you to get access to professional features, Office Add-ins and provides a positive customer experience. Business owners can also take advantage of apps for enterprise, intelligent cloud service, and helpful training videos and guides.
Can I buy Microsoft Office permanently?
Yes. There's a perpetual version of each Microsoft Office generation, which means after a one-time purchase, the software is yours forever.
Is there a Microsoft Office 2020?
At the time of writing, there is no news about Microsoft Office 2020, or a new suite coming anytime soon. Experts suspect there may be a new perpetual suite released in 2022. Until then, application updates and upgrades are only accessible to Microsoft 365 subscribers.