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

Microsoft 365 offers a subscription service that ensures you have access to the latest, cutting-edge productivity tools from Microsoft. It provides a range of plans suitable for various user groups, including individuals for home and personal use, small to midsized businesses, large enterprises, schools, and non-profit organizations.
The Microsoft 365 plans cater to both home and business users, offering a comprehensive suite of familiar desktop applications such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. In addition to these powerful apps, the plans provide additional cloud storage and cloud-connected features, facilitating real-time collaboration on files. By subscribing to Microsoft 365, you ensure access to the latest features, fixes, and security updates, all accompanied by continuous technical support at no additional charge. The subscription offers flexible payment options, allowing you to choose between monthly or yearly payments. Moreover, the Microsoft 365 Family plan enables you to share these subscription benefits with up to five additional individuals.
Note: Microsoft 365 Basic is a new subscription that includes 100GB of cloud storage, secure ad-free email, and Microsoft support.
See the Microsoft 365 Basic FAQ for more information.

Microsoft offers a variety of Microsoft 365 plans tailored for businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations. These plans typically include the option to install fully featured desktop apps, but there are also basic plans available that provide online versions of Microsoft 365, along with file storage and email. You have the flexibility to choose the plan that best suits your needs, whether you are a small business, enterprise, school, or non-profit organization.

On the other hand, Office 2021 is offered as a one-time purchase. This means you pay a single upfront cost to obtain the Microsoft 365 apps for a single computer. One-time purchases are available for both PCs and Macs. However, it’s important to note that there are no upgrade options included with the one-time purchase. If you plan to upgrade to the next major release, you will need to purchase it at the full price.

If you prefer a web-based experience, Microsoft 365 for the Web is available as a free version. It allows you to access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more through a web browser. All you need to do is sign up for a Microsoft account using either a new or existing email address, and you can utilize these applications for free on the web.

Looking for product details and prices?

Compare Microsoft 365 subscription with Office 2021 (one-time purchase)



One-time purchase (Example: Office Home & Business 2021)


Microsoft 365 subscription
(Example: Microsoft 365 Family or Microsoft 365 Personal)


Pay a single, one-time cost.


Pay a small monthly fee, or save by paying for a full year.


Microsoft 365 applications


Get Microsoft 365 apps like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint



Get the fully installed and latest versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook, and OneNote for Windows or Mac. You’ll always get the latest features, new tools, security updates, and bug fixes. (PC users also get Access and Publisher.)


Feature updates

Not included

Security updates are included, but you won’t get any new features. Upgrades to major releases aren’t included.



Your apps will always be improving. You’ll get all the latest features and updates, as well as security updates and bug fixes.


Install Microsoft 365 on more than one computer (Mac or PC)

Not included

One-time purchases can be installed once on either a PC or Mac.



You can install Microsoft 365 Family or Personal, on all your devices and sign in to five at the same time―that means you can use the Microsoft 365 apps no matter where you are or what device you’re on. This includes PCs, Macs, tablets, and phones. With Microsoft 365 Family you can also share your subscription with up to five other people.


Advanced features on tablets and phones

Not included

Install the mobile apps for free and get basic editing features on tablets or phones under 10.1 inches.



Install the mobile apps for free and get extra features when you sign in to Microsoft 365 apps on your device.


Extra online storage

Not included

Not included.



Securely store your files in the cloud and access them from anywhere. Get 1 TB of cloud storage. With Microsoft 365 Family you get 1 TB per user, and anyone you’re sharing with will also get their own 1 TB of cloud storage.


Technical support is included

Not included

Initial technical support is included for installing only.



Contact us throughout your subscription at no extra cost for help with technical issues, or for subscription and billing support.