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Digital Communication

Microsoft Office 2019 vs 2021: an update on the differences

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The main differences between Office 2019 and Office 2021 concern collaborative work and synchronization. For example, Office 2021 offers innovations in real-time synchronization via OneDrive and SharePoint, shared document creation, and easy-to-read annotation features for teamwork. Our comparison clarifies whether upgrading from Office 2019 to Office 2021 is justified from the point of view of collaborative work.

Overview: Office 2021 vs 2019

Office 2019 Office 2021
Provides essential office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook In addition to common desktop apps, provides the Teams app to improve collaboration and communication regardless of location
Support until the end of October 2025 Support until the end of October 2026
Classic and more angular Windows design of Office applications Design matching the fluid and modern look of Windows 11
Rudimentary Dark Mode (Dark Toolbar) More sophisticated dark mode (dark background areas, light font)
New Excel functions such as EQUIVX, XLOOKUP and an improved “Modern Comments” annotation feature

Office 2019 or 2021: differences and similarities

The big advantage brought by Office, both in its 2019 and 2021 versions: it is so-called “perpetual” or single-use licenses without subscription obligation. If you prefer to buy an office suite once and use it indefinitely, you will receive complete office software. Simply purchase the 2019 or 2021 license once and activate it online via a free Microsoft account.

Its disadvantage compared to the Microsoft 365 subscription based on the Cloud: the single-use license only provides standard support for five years and two-year extended support. This mainly includes security updates, but not new content features. If you want to upgrade, you must purchase a new license. Microsoft 365, on the other hand, offers unrestricted use and benefits from support and security and feature updates for as long as the subscription is active.

Fundamental difference: end of support for Office 2019

The major difference between Office 2019 and Office 2021: The older the Office suite, the more likely it is that Microsoft support will end permanently. Microsoft has announced the official end of technical support provided for Office 2019 in October 2023. With two years of extended support, official support will end in October 2025, similar to Office 2016 and Windows 10. For someone with a perpetual license, this is a good reason to consider upgrading. upgrade to Office 2021 or Microsoft 365. Support for Office 2021 until 2026, Microsoft says. If you’re committed to long-term commercial use of Office, there are typically the most benefits to moving to Microsoft 365.

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Overview of what’s new in Office 2021

At first glance, the comparison of licenses highlights the modernized and revisited design language of Office 2021. It is modeled in detail on the version of Windows 11 published in parallel, and offers more rounded window corners, a neutral color palette and stylized icons in the context menu respecting the concept of Fluent Design or “fluid design” established by Microsoft. In fact, Office 2021 looks more flexible and sleeker than the previous version of Office 2019.

More emphasis on collaboration

Regardless of the release date and the end of technical support, one thing is certain about the features of the two Office licenses: Office 2019 or 2021 offer all the essential Microsoft Office applications. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • Power point
  • OneNote
  • Outlook
  • Access
  • Publisher
  • SharePoint
  • Exchange

Unlike Office 2019, Office 2021 is however focused on teamwork and collaboration. This is proven by the new Teams application, which we regretted the absence of in Office 2019. Thanks to this function, the Office suite supports more flexible communications and work organization, independent of device and geographical location, in the era of remote work and teleworking. However, this possibility requires the different interlocutors to also use Office 2021 or Microsoft 365. The collaboration features are only partially supported by Office 2019 or earlier licenses.

Other proof of increased collaboration in Office 2021: the collaborative work on documents via Word, Excel or PowerPoint is greatly facilitated. This allows you to share documents stored in OneDrive with anyone and sync changes in real time. Although OneDrive is not an integrated app in Office 2021, OneDrive online storage is automatically included in your free Microsoft account. This allows Office 2021 to offer support for OneDrive.

New features for Office apps

Although the Microsoft applications pillar is identical for both licenses, a closer look reveals the existence of many new features in Office applications 2021. Here we present the major features according to the applications.

Excel:

  • New XLOOKUP/XLOOKUP function: targeted search for multiple variables and keywords or an organization of selected items in Excel spreadsheets
  • New XMATCH/EQUIVX function: targeted search for position of keywords and variables in a selected row range
  • New LET function: assigns names to specific results of a calculation
  • New features with support for dynamic tables
  • OpenDocument 1.3 support

Word:

  • OpenDocument 1.3 support

Power point :

  • Video recording of speaker slideshows, laser pointers and inking gestures
  • Optimizing presentations for screen readers
  • “Sketch style” drawing function for drawings in presentations for lightness and clarity
  • Saving and playing back illustrations created in PowerPoint
  • Exporting presentations to video format for reuse or making available online

Outlook:

  • Instant search with better filter options
  • Translation function (for more than 70 languages)
  • Freehand drawing with inking function

Office 2021 in dark mode

Office 2021’s optimized and comprehensive dark mode goes beyond just a rudimentary darkened toolbar. For a pleasantly darkened appearance, dark backgrounds with light font are now also used. The 2021 license thus follows the trend towards dark mode. Night mode provides a discreet, pleasant and above all eye-relieving display, especially in dark presentation rooms, on the move or during long hours spent in front of the screen.

Office perpetual license vs. Office subscription: pros and cons

Before opting for a particular Office license, the following question arises: do you want to purchase a perpetual license just once or always use the latest version of Office offering the latest features? The benefits of a single-use license are associated with the affordable dimension of investments and independence. You buy Office software once and can use it indefinitely, at least in theory. However, a limited period is indirectly imposed through technical support which will end one day or another. Afterwards, you can continue to use the software, but you will no longer receive important updates for optimal security and performance.

Microsoft 365 subscription always includes the latest version of every Microsoft app, including the latest security features. To benefit from it, you must renew your subscription and pay it regularly. If you don’t know which Office version you are using, you can identify it under “File”, “Account” then “Information”.

All the essential Office applications for teamwork in the Cloud in one subscription: with IONOS you get the complete Microsoft package with Microsoft 365, including free installation support, your own Cloud storage and data protection. optimal data thanks to our servers located in the European Union.

In summary: Office 2019, 2021, or even Microsoft 365?

In direct comparison, it is obvious that Office 2021 offers better functions than Office 2019, especially for businesses and professional use. This includes Microsoft Teams integration, real-time document synchronization, enhanced annotations and OneDrive integration. As for the pillar of office applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, both licenses are suitable for private use. However, it is worth noting here that Office 2019 will no longer receive official technical support starting October 2025. Office 2021 will still be supported until October 2026.

Businesses that require Office on many devices and for many users at the same time should definitely opt for a Microsoft 365 subscription model based on the SaaS principle. Microsoft 365 offers the best collaboration features, cloud usage with automatic synchronization, as well as the latest versions and security features of Microsoft applications.

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