Office 2021 vs. Microsoft 365

Personal computers or office Systems, one of the common office productivity installations is Microsoft Office.

Despite that being a common productivity tool, the challenge is the best-fit solution in Microsoft Office license for a distinct set of users.

Here are some comprehensive highlights of the differences between Microsoft office 2021 and Microsoft 365, as insights for your decision-making.

One major highlighting difference between the solutions is the subscription and licensing model

Microsoft Office 2021 is the single-purchase version of the Microsoft office suite.

With two license models Home & Student 2021 or Home & Business 2021, the cost of the one-time license is $149.99 and $249.99 respectively for each of the Microsoft office 2021.  

In the case of the Microsoft 365 offered Office 365 solution, the subscription structure is a monthly or annual billing cycle, wherein the users are getting the cloud-hosted Microsoft 365 subscription for office.

The key difference between Microsoft 2021 and Microsoft 365 is the cost incurrence timeframe into subscribing to Microsoft 365 Office or Microsoft 2021.

In Microsoft 365, it’s a recurring expenditure with no one-time payment.

However, with Microsoft Office 2021, there is a one-time and perpetual buy wherein once the license is purchased it is for a lifetime with a limited number of systems depending on the version of licensing.


Microsoft 365 SaaS-Based Office 365 is a cloud-based solution wherein the users with a subscription to Microsoft 365 can install one user account into five different devices, and it is a significant solution. 

The key advantage of the Microsoft 365 is that users can continue to work on the documents from their desktops, and on other online browsers too.

For businesses, on-the-go usage of the documents and edits to the documents across the devices on a real-time basis is a big value proposition. 

In Microsoft office 2021, unlike Microsoft 365, the license is used for installing the product on different computers, as per the limit offered for the specific version. 

More often, the installation license is lifetime, and it can be resourceful for limited systems even with multiple times of installation.

But the users do not have any access to an online set-up, and the documents are managed on the specific system only. 

Documents Management 

Microsoft 365 Online Collaboration Tool

A significant difference in document management is another major difference significant to Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Office 2021.

Technically, Microsoft office 2021 is a desktop application installed and any documents created using the Microsoft office 2021 get stored in the specific device only unless they are uploaded into One Drive from Microsoft or any other cloud storage.

The documents in the One Drive folder can be available on the other locations or over the web for download. Else the documents are in the specific system only.

In Microsoft 365, the system is completely based on the cloud, and the users have a simple feature to save all the documents online, and on a real-time basis, the data is stored online.

The other key feature of Microsoft 365 is the sync between multiple devices wherein a user account is signed-up.

The major advantage of the system from Microsoft 365 is the ease of access wherein a document can be seamlessly accessed or edited from the respective locations.

One other key feature of Microsoft 365 the system is its efficacy in terms of accessible and editable online which helps people using the solution On-the-Go accessibility and edit features.

Service and Support

Microsoft Office 2021 is more of a conventional software solution, wherein the bundle of tools does not get upgraded or updated until the next major version is released. 

Even in the case of the service too, there is limited in terms of service with Microsoft office 2021, wherein Microsoft releases monthly security and enhancements updates if any.

It is the user level’s responsibility to ensure the updates are installed into the systems. 

However, the chances of such upgrades are limited and in the case of the Microsoft 365 subscription services, the functionality of regular updates to the system is profound. 

Unlike Microsoft Office 2021, wherein the users must repurchase a new version, in the case of Microsoft 365, what you access anytime is the latest version.

 Also, in the case of Microsoft 365 subscription, any challenges of data backup in the individual devices if got corrupted or deleted, a real-time backup is available over the cloud (unless it is intendedly deleted from the cloud too). 

However, in Microsoft office 2021, such scope is limited and the accessibility to the documents depends on whether there is any alternative backup used. 


Microsoft 65 vs. MS Office

Microsoft Office 2021 is a desktop version and does not require any internet connectivity for effective functioning.

However, in the case of the Microsoft 365 subscription, the users need to have access to the internet for effective functioning. 

Offline saving of documents happens over the desktop, and upon active internet connection, the documents are saved to the cloud.

Still, for users with limited internet connectivity and minimal use of office productivity tools, Microsoft Office 2021 can be a potential choice. 

The other constraint encountered with Microsoft 365 subscription is the user account from a specific system stops working in the absence of an internet connection over 30 days.

Though the necessary measures are in progress from Microsoft 365 to avoid these issues, still the issue persists and needs redressal. 

Based on the review of the critical features, it is evident that the Microsoft 365 subscription is a new-age solution, and the users have hassle-free data management and security. 

However, for people with limited use and limited internet connectivity conditions, the scope of using Microsoft office 2021 can address the purpose.

In the selection and choice between Microsoft 365 and Microsoft office 2021, the emphasis should be more on the usage requirements and security than that on the pricing. 

Engage with the Exabytes Singapore team for better insights into Microsoft 365 subscription and support. 

Contact an Exabytes professional over WhatsApp for instant information to sign up for a Microsoft 365 subscription as low as S$7.99/user/month.

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Anytime On Demand Collaboration with Microsoft 365

A Complete Comparison between Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365

Top 10 Microsoft 365 Alternatives & Competitors to Consider

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