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Difference between Office 365 and Office 2016

Difference between Office 365 and Office 2016

What is Office 365?

Office 365 is a Microsoft product that offers a cloud-based office solution using subscription plans.  It allows access to a variety of cloud services and Microsoft’s office applications (Office 2016) which can also be installed locally across multiple devices to allow for working offline.

  • It is mandatory for users to have a Microsoft Account to gain access to Office 365.
  • Depending on your subscription plan, Office 365 lets you work in the cloud or locally.

What is Office 2016?

Office 2016 is Microsoft’s latest version of the well-known desktop office suite with access to OneDrive for cloud storage.  Office 2016 applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Access can be installed as separate apps if the entire office suite isn’t required.

  • The applications available to the user depend on the bundle type purchased. For example, Office 2016 Professional is the full office suite and Office 2016 Home and Student is a lighter version excluding some applications.
  • The software is installed once-off on every workstation and licenses are purchased for additional users instead of having to purchase the software per seat.
  • Although Office 2016 is a localized working environment, it can be integrated with Office 365 or used without an Office 365 account.


  1. Both Office 365 and 2016 offer packaged solutions for different pricing models.
  2. They share common installation requirements for computers, being Windows 7 (or later) or Mac OSX 10.10.
  3. They share common applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive.


When integrating Office 2016 with an Office 365 plan, a multitude of features become available including:

  • Office online (Word, PowerPoint, Excel) and full desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher and Access).
  • Office accessibility from mobile devices.
  • High-end data security, etc.

As the plans go up, the benefits and services increase such as:

  • 50GB Outlook inbox space per user
  • SharePoint
  • Yammer
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Skype for Business

What is the Difference Between Office 365 and Office 2016?

  1. Office 2016 is a “buy once up-front and install” software product, whereas Office 365 is primarily a cloud service offering access to a variety of tools, apps, and services based on a subscription plan.
  2. Office 2016 applications are distributed as part of the Office 365 subscription plan for local installations.
  3. Office 365 can only be used online while the locally installed Office 2016 applications are available regardless of internet connectivity.

Difference between Office 365 and Office 2016-1

Features and Applications

  1. For home users, Office 365 comes standard with access to cloud applications such as Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, as well as cloud services for OneDrive and Skype, whereas Office 2016 excludes Skype as part of the offering.
  2. The apps, Access and Publisher are only available with Office 2016 as a desktop installation.
  3. Office 365 business users can also subscribe to additional cloud services as SharePoint, Yammer, and Microsoft Teams whereas Office 2016 does not provide any of these business services.

The Microsoft Office mobile applications (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) can be downloaded free for Windows 10,  iOS 8.0 or iOS 9.0 (for iPad Pro)or later, and Android KitKat 4.4 or later.

Browser Compatibility

Office 365 applications are accessed from a browser which can be run from multiple devices, including PCs, Macs, Android and Apple devices, whereas Office 2016 is accessed through the desktop version and does not depend on browser support.

Office 365 works best with Internet Explorer 11 and Microsoft Edge, and is supported on the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari (on Mac only).

Software Updates

  1. When Microsoft releases a new version of their applications and office suite, active Office 365 subscribers automatically get the most updated version whereas Office 2016-only users will need to purchase the latest version for an upgrade.
  2. Through regular Windows updates, Office 2016 receives bug and security fixes but it does not apply any major enhancements or new versions.

An active Office 365 subscription from today until 2020 will always have access to the most recent version, for example Office 2020 (if released) but purchasing Office 2016 today means in 2020, the user will still only be able to use Office 2016 as it was when purchased.

  1. To upgrade Office 2016 to a later version, a new investment is required each time.

Educational Resources

  1. Office 365 offers collective services and educational resources and apps, that allows sharing and collaboration with students and teachers who qualify against a valid academic institution.
  2. Office 365 for Education includes Office Online with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive, Yammer, and SharePoint.

Office 2016 Professional offers the standard office applications at a higher cost than Office 2016 for Students with reduced applications and only include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Pricing Models

Office 365 subscription plans are modeled for different pricing levels on a monthly or annual basis, whereas Office 2016 provides once-off pricing for each office bundle.

For example, Office 365 Home is designed for private households, with office applications for up to 5 users, and Office 365 Personal for one user is a more affordable option for individuals.

Office 365 vs Office 2016

Comparing two of several different packages available for Office 365 and Office 2016 home and business users:

Comparing packages available for Office 365 and Office 2016 educational and home users:


Microsoft is moving away from the physical media installation and diverting consumers towards Office 365, but it may be some time before everyone adopts that approach voluntarily.

If consumers don’t want to manage subscriptions or if they don’t have constant high quality internet connectivity, going with Office 2016 being “buy once up-front and install” is more practical, as long as consumers understand the software will stay as is until they actively purchase an upgrade.

  • Office 365 is a subscription (monthly or annually) that provides online access to cloud applications and the full desktop versions for Office.
  • Office 2016 is the desktop-only version of Microsoft Office and being locally installed, internet connectivity does not play any part in accessibility.
  • Office 2016 can only be integrated with Office 365 (online) with a valid Microsoft Account, internet connection, and the purchased subscription plan.
  • Students however may be more inclined to go with subscriptions to keep up to date with requirements as technology moves forward.

Office 365 for Education has increased discounts and offerings for teachers and students providing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Microsoft Teams and other classroom tools.

  • Office 365 Personal is designed for an individual with 1TB storage on OneDrive and caters well for single home users.

Office 2016 Home and Student, and Home and Business editions would fit in this category but the Office 2016 Professional is widely-used in organizations that have not moved to Office 365.

Office 2016 may have a bigger cost upfront but works out cheaper in the long run if you willing to forego getting new versions ‘for free’.  If planning to use Office 2016 for two years or more and the cloud storage is not an important factor, then the once-off purchase would be more suitable.

If features, updates, new releases, cloud storage, and multiple devices are considerably important, then Office 365 would be the better choice, which will come with a bit more cost in the long term than with Office 2016.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for sharing. It was very helpful

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References :

[0]Shaffer, Ann, et al. New Perspectives Microsoft Office 365 & Word 2016: Comprehensive. USA, 2016. Print.

[1]Shaffer, Ann, et al. New Perspectives Microsoft Office 365 & Office 2016. USA, 2016.

[2]Freund, Steven, et al. Discovering Computers & Micorosft Office 365 Office 2016: "A Fundamental Approach". USA, 2017.



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