MS Office 2021 Vs Microsoft 365 Apps [Comparison guide 2024] (2024)

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Summary: Our blog guides you through the key differences between MS Office 2021 and Microsoft 365 Apps, helping you make an informed choice for your productivity needs. To further enhance your Office experience and secure data protection, we recommend considering Kernel Office 365 Backup & Restore tool, a valuable asset in optimizing your Office suite utilization.

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The release of MS Office 2021 has sparked excitement in the software world, promising substantial improvements over the existing MS Office suite, including new features and enhanced performance. Yet, the question lingers: Is it truly worth the upgrade?

Some argue that if you’re already subscribed to Office 365, transitioning to 2021 may not be necessary. They contend that the new features in 2021, while promising, might appear relatively minor, with most enhancements barely visible, potentially going unnoticed by the majority of users.

Read Also: Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365 Differences and Benefits

In this post, we will take a look into the key details of MS Office 2021 Vs Microsoft 365 Apps, shedding light on their key differences to help you decide which suite is best for you.

MS Office 2021 Vs. MS Office Apps 365

MS Office 2021 represents the most recent desktop iteration of Microsoft Office products, while MS Office in Office 365 stands as the cloud-based variant of the same productivity suite. Both versions include the well-known applications, including MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more.

When evaluating Microsoft Office 365 versus 2021, it’s crucial to understand the key differences between the two. Let’s take an in-depth look at both versions of the Microsoft Office Suite and compare their features.

Subscription service vs. one-time purchase

The primary distinction between Microsoft Office 365 and 2021 lies in their payment models. Office 365 operates as a subscription service, offering continuous access to the latest software version and online storage and collaboration features. On the other hand, Office 2021 is a one-time purchase, providing updates and support only until the end of its support period.

Online storage and collaboration features

Another significant contrast between Microsoft Office 365 and Office 2021 is the inclusion of online storage and collaboration features in Office 365. This allows users to store documents online and collaborate on them in real-time. Office 365 also offers additional productivity tools like Skype for Business, enhancing team collaboration capabilities

MS Office 2021 solely comprises the classic MS Office applications. If you wish to access any additional apps, you must buy them individually or subscribe to Office 365.

Application differences

There are subtle disparities in the individual applications as well. For instance, Excel in Office 365 offers more features compared to Excel in Office 2021. Office 365 Apps have the ability to open and edit PDFs, a feature not available in PowerPoint in Office 2021.

Internet connection

MS Office in Office 365 necessitates an internet connection for downloading and installation due to its cloud-based nature. In contrast, MS Office 2021 can function offline, making it suitable for users without consistent high-speed internet access or those who prefer working offline.

Cloud storage

MS Office in Office 365 includes 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage so that you can access your files from anywhere. MS Office 2021 does not have any extra online storage.


When it comes to Office 2021, you have two options: Home & Student 2021, priced at $149.99, and Home & Business 2021, available for $249.99. If you’re leaning towards a Microsoft 365 subscription, there are several choices. The Personal plan costs $69.99 annually or $6.99 monthly, while the Family plan is priced at $99.99 per year or $9.99 per month.


MS Office 2021 provides security updates and bug fixes exclusively. To access new features, you must buy a new version of the software. In contrast, MS Office Apps 365 offers automatic access to new features and updates upon release. With frequent updates, users will never face any issues like Exchange online archive mailbox is not displaying in Outlook, deleted messages coming back, etc.

System requirements

Lastly, it’s important to mention that the system requirements for MS Office 2021 and MS Office applications in Office 365 can vary slightly. However, these differences depend on the age of the desktop version being used.

MS Office 2021 Vs Microsoft 365 Apps
AspectMS Office 2021Microsoft 365 Apps
Payment ModelOne-time purchaseSubscription service
Online Storage and CollaborationLimitedExtensive
Included ApplicationsClassic MS Office appsAdditional apps in subscription
Features in ApplicationsLimitedEnhanced and up-to-date
Internet ConnectionOffline use possibleOnline installation
Cloud StorageNo extra storage1TB OneDrive storage
PriceOne-time purchase costSubscription fee
UpdatesNew features require purchaseAutomatic updates
System RequirementsVaries based on versionVaries based on version

MS Office 2021 Vs. MS Office Apps 365 – How are they different?

In summary, the primary distinction between MS Office 2021 and MS Office apps in Office 365 lies in the service model. Office 365 operates as a subscription service, offering online storage and collaboration features, whereas Office 2021 is a single-purchase version without online capabilities. Additionally, there are differences in the specific applications. The choice between the two depends on your specific needs and preferences.

It depends on your needs and preferences. If you need the latest version of the software and access to online features, then Office 365 is the best choice. But if you don’t need those things, Office 2021 may be a better option for you.

You can decide between these two: Microsoft Office 365 vs 2021 as you are now wise enough to make a perfect decision.

How to backup Office 365 emails?

If you are utilizing Office 365 applications, chances are you are also using Office 365 emails. Maintaining a backup of all your email data is a prudent practice. We offer an ideal tool to meet your Office 365 backup requirements. – Kernel Office 365 Backup and Restore.

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The tool offers to export unlimited Office 365 data to PST, PDF, HTML, MSG, DOC, & DOCX formats. The tool includes automated backup functionality with built-in CSV files, intelligent filters, and the capability to preserve folder hierarchy in a designated location. Furthermore, it ensures the preservation of the original Office 365 mailbox data, making it easy to find old emails in Office 365 and restore the lost data. With comprehensive compatibility across all Office 365 plans and Exchange Server versions, this software offers an ideal solution for Office 365 users seeking to guarantee the safety and security of their data.


When it comes to getting your work done, you’ve got two main choices: MS Office 2021 and MS Office Apps 365. MS Office 2021 is like buying a software package once, and it’s yours forever. MS Office Apps 365, on the other hand, is like subscribing to a service where you pay regularly to use it.

The big difference? MS Office Apps 365 gives you extra stuff, like online storage and collaboration features. You can work on documents together with others in real-time, which can be super handy.

But here’s a tip: If you use Office 365 for important emails, it’s smart to have a backup plan. That’s where the Kernel Office 365 Backup and Restore tool comes in. It keeps your emails and other Office 365 data safe, so you don’t lose anything important.

So, which one is better? It depends on what you need and how you work. Make the choice that suits you best, and don’t forget to keep your data safe.


Q- Is Office 2021 the latest version?

A- Office 2021 is indeed the latest version of the Office suite. Developed by Microsoft, this latest iteration was unveiled alongside Windows 11 on October 5, 2021. The update comes with several enhancements, including dynamic arrays & VLOOKUP features for Excel, full dark mode support, & performance improvements. These additions make the suite more feature-rich & improve the user experience.

Q- Is Microsoft 365 apps the same as Office 365?

A- Microsoft 365 Apps is indeed a version of Office, but it’s available through various Office 365 & Microsoft 365 plans. However, it offers the same applications that we all know & love, such as Excel, Outlook, OneDrive, PowerPoint, & Word. Also, it includes some lesser-known programs like Teams, Skype for Business, OneNote & Access.

Q- Is Office 2021 a one-time purchase?

A- Office 2021 is a one-time purchase that gives you access to the classic Microsoft apps like Word, Excel, & PowerPoint for both PC & Mac. This means that you can use these applications without having to subscribe to Microsoft 365 services. Unlike the subscription model, Office 2021 is a more cost-effective option for those who don’t need the full range of services provided by the 365 subscriptions.

MS Office 2021 Vs Microsoft 365 Apps [Comparison guide 2024] (2024)


Which version of Microsoft Office is best? ›

Features: Microsoft Office 2021 is the most up-to-date version of the suite and includes all the latest features, such as AI-powered grammar suggestions and new data analysis tools. Office 2019 and 2016 both offer similar functionality, but they lack some of the newer features found in Office 2021.

What would be the main advantage of using Office 365 when compared with MS Office? ›

Here are some key advantages: Subscription Model and Updates:Continuous Updates: Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based service, which means you always have access to the latest versions of Office applications and features. You don't need to purchase new versions separately.

What is the difference between Office 365 and Excel 2021 functions? ›

Limited updates and features Microsoft Excel 2021 does not receive regular updates and feature additions like Microsoft Excel 365. This means that users may miss out on new and improved tools and functions.

Is Office 365 being phased out? ›

Even though most things are changing to Microsoft 365, Office is not going away entirely. Existing Office 365 subscription plans will be unaffected. And we'll continue to offer one-time purchase options, such as Office 2021, and Office LTSC plans. Still have questions?

What is difference between MS Office and Office 365? ›

The most prominent distinction between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021 comes from the different licensing of the products. Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based service that provides access to the latest versions of Microsoft apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and many more.

What is the difference between Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365? ›

Microsoft 365 (en-us) refers to a local installation of Office, tied to a subscription. This is in contrast to, say, Office 2021 which would represent a perpetual (one-time payment) license. If you have a local installation of Office (a full version), you do not need the dashboard app.

What is the disadvantage of Office 365? ›

Disadvantages of Microsoft 365
  • Subscriptions aren't for everyone. You don't have to pay out one-time costs, but you do have to pay every month. ...
  • Compatibility issues with bespoke systems. ...
  • Constant updates mean constant changes. ...
  • Most people only use 20% of the functionality. ...
  • You don't actually own the software.

Why do people pay for Microsoft 365? ›

Any documents you create with the free versions of apps like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are automatically saved to OneDrive. With a Microsoft 365 Personal or Family subscription, you'll always have the most up-to-date modern productivity tools from Microsoft all with the latest features, fixes, and security updates.

What is one of the primary differences between Office 365 and Microsoft 365? ›

Office 365 is a suite of cloud-based productivity applications such as Microsoft Office, SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive, Yammer, OneNote, etc. Microsoft 365, however, is a combination of services that blends together Office 365, Windows 10 OS, and Enterprise Mobility + Security.

What is the most basic difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? ›

365 allows you access from multiple devices while 2021 can only reside on one device. It also gets you access to 1 TB cloud storage, which none of the standalone versions of Office do.

Is Office 365 better than Office 2021? ›

But Office 2021 doesn't get the continually upgraded features and functionality that Microsoft 365 does. What you get when you buy the suite, feature-wise, is it. If you want the updates, at some point in the future, you will have to buy whatever version Microsoft is selling as a perpetual license then.

What's the difference between Office 365 and Office 2021? ›

Office 2021 is a standalone version of Microsoft Office that provides a perpetual license for the software. It allows users to use Word, Excel, and PowerPoint applications without needing a subscription. However, it does not include access to future feature updates or additional services provided by Microsoft 365.

Is Microsoft Office 2024 coming out? ›

Well, Microsoft has made it official! The next version of Microsoft 365 (aka Microsoft Office) will be released later in 2024. In addition to Microsoft offering it as a one-off purchase, there will also be a Mac version of the program and it will support both 32- and 64-bit versions.

Which of the following apps is not included in Office 365? ›

So the answer is (3) Publisher. Office 365 is a subscription service that provides access to Microsoft's productivity apps and other cloud-based services. Office 365 is available in a variety of plans for individuals, businesses, and organisations of all sizes.

Why are so many companies switching to Office 365? ›

Flexibility. With Office 365, companies can choose between a pure cloud environment, an on-premises solution, or a hybrid environment that integrates cloud services into an on-premises IT infrastructure. This enables customers to move to the cloud at a pace that makes sense for their business.

Which is better Office 365 or Office 2016? ›

Microsoft Office 2016 can only be installed on one computer per licence, and users typically access and store documents via a local drive or shared server. However, when around three-quarters of employees now use personal mobile devices for work purposes, the cloud benefits of Office 365 are endless.

Is Office 2016 better than 365? ›

If basic Office applications like Word, PowerPoint and Excel are sufficient, either a standalone Office 2016 version or a lower-tier Microsoft 365 plan should work. However, if advanced features or access to programs like SharePoint are crucial, Microsoft 365 might be the better choice.

Is Office 2016 still good? ›

Despite being discontinued, Office 2016 is still a viable option for those who want Microsoft Office, but don't want to pay monthly or yearly for a subscription to Office 365. We have both Office 2016 and 2019 and have found very minimal differences between the two.

Is Office 365 better than Windows 10? ›

Why Windows 365 offers more functionality than Windows 10. Windows 365 is a cloud service, and as such, it offers all the advantages of a cloud platform while maintaining a focus on desktop delivery.

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