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Microsoft / Microsoft Office / Office 365

Office 2019: The last of the dated Offices?

Office 2019: The last of the dated Offices?
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Continuing the typical cadence of Office releases, Office 2019 comes 3 years on the heels of Office 2016 (which followed from 2013, which followed from 2010, and 2007 and 2003 and so it goes).

Office 2019 didn’t hit with a bang (nor a whimper) but somewhat of a ‘meh’ due in part to the fact that most of the features that would typically be viewed as “new” and “exciting” were already available in the subscription-based flavors of Office that come with Office 365 subscriptions.  The only reason one would buy Office 2019 would be to pay a one-time fee and avoid the subscription.  Unfortunately, that would mean new features released to subscribers would not be coming to Office 2019 users.  Some aren’t too concerned over that because they wonder “how much more can Word really be enhanced?” and there is some validity to that thinking.

NOTE: If you would like to see features that Microsoft has added to Office as a subscription you can check out the update history here.

Recently, in an odd move, Microsoft has attacked Office 2019 by pitting it directly against Office 365 (in a “Twins Challenge” blog post).  The post calls Office 2019 “frozen in time” because it will not be updated with new features and isn’t cloud-connected.  It goes on to say Office 2019 “doesn’t support real-time coauthoring across apps, and it doesn’t have the amazing AI-powered capabilities that come with Office 365.”

The Office geek smackdown of Office 2019 might have some wondering if this is the last time we’ll see a dated release of the product.  I wouldn’t be surprised.  But keep in mind this isn’t accidental.  It’s not that Office 2019 couldn’t receive new features through product updates and such – it’s that Microsoft just doesn’t want to give them to you.  They want to provide ‘services‘ now and not ‘products‘.

It’s hard to say if this marketing push will or will not affect sales of the Office 2019 suite.  Again, some customers purchase the non-subscription version to avoid being part of the Office 365 subscription world.  They may not see value in going with O365 for pieces of Office (like email and such) because they still use on-premises infrastructure.  Many won’t upgrade to 2019 at all and are happy to continue on a legacy flavor of Office that suffices for their business.  Nevertheless, as time passes, it’s pretty clear it’s solely the subscription model that has a future.

Office 2019… the last dated version of Office?  Time will tell.  Ask me again in 2021.

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Co-founder of and Microsoft Office 365 MVP, InfoWorld columnist (Enterprise Windows), and Mimecast consultant.

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