What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (2023)

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (1)

Microsoft 365is a subscription service that makes sureyou always have the most up-to-date modern productivity tools from Microsoft. There are Microsoft 365plans for home and personal use, as well as for small and midsized businesses, large enterprises, schools, and non-profits.

Microsoft 365 plans for home or businessinclude the robust Microsoft 365 desktop apps that you’re familiar with, like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. You also get extra cloud storage and cloud-connected features that let you collaborate on files in real time. With a subscription, you'll always have the latest features, fixes, and security updates along with perennial tech support at no extra cost. You can choose to pay for your subscription on a monthly or yearly basis.The Microsoft 365 Family plan also lets you share these subscription benefitswithup to five additional people.

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.

Most of the Microsoft 365 plans for business, schools, and non-profits include the fully installed desktop apps, but Microsoft also offers basic plans with the online versions of Microsoft 365, file storage, and email. You decide what works best for you: Small business, Enterprise, School, or Non-profit.

Office 2021 is sold as a one-time purchase, which means you pay a single, up-front cost to get Microsoft 365 apps for one computer. One-time purchases are available for both PCs and Macs. However, there are no upgrade options, which means if you plan to upgrade to the next major release, you'll have to buy it at full price.

Microsoft 365 for the web is a free version of Microsoft 365 that you can use in a web browser. All you need is to sign up for a Microsoft account with a new or existing email address.Use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more for free on the web.

Tip:If you're a small business owner looking for more information on how to get Microsoft 365 set up, visit .

Not sure what you have now? See What version of Office am I using?

Ready to install Microsoft 365apps? See Install Office on your PC or Mac.

Looking for product details and prices?

Buy or try Microsoft 365

Compare Microsoft 365 subscription withOffice 2021 (one-time purchase)

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

Microsoft 365 subscription
(Example: Microsoft 365 FamilyorMicrosoft 365 Personal)


Pay a single, one-time cost.

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

Microsoft 365 applications

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (2)

Get Microsoft 365 apps like Excel, Word, andPowerPoint.

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (3)

Get the fully installed and latest versions ofExcel, Word, PowerPointand 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 Accessand Publisher.)

Feature updates

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (4)

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

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (5)

Your appswill 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)

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (6)

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

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (7)

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

Advanced features on tablets and phones

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (8)

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

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (9)

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

Extra online storage

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (10)

Not included.

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (11)

Securely store your files in the cloud and access them from anywhere. Get 1 TB ofcloud storage. WithMicrosoft 365 Familyyou 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

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (12)

Initial technical support is included for installing only.

What's the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021? (13)

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

Need help choosing a Microsoft 365 for business plan?

Deciding on a plan can depend on your specific business needs. The Microsoft 365 plan chooser is designed to help you with this. The chooser will make recommendations based on your answers to questions such as the size of your business, your field of work, the devices you use, and what kind of features, IT support, and security you're looking for. See Help me find the right plan for my business.


Choose an option below to get pricing info.

Compare prices

Microsoft 365 subscriptions

For home or personal use:

Microsoft 365 Family (share with up to 5 additional people)

Microsoft 365 Personal (for one individual)

Microsoft 365 Basic

For business use:

Compare Microsoft 365 small and midsized business plans (up to 300 users)

Compare Microsoft 365 enterprise plans

For non-profits:

Microsoft 365 Nonprofit plans

One-time purchases of Microsoft 365

Office Professional 2021

Yes. You can buy standalone versions of Word, Excel, andPowerPointfor Mac or PC. Go to the Microsoft Store and search for the app you want.

You can also get a one-time purchase or a subscription version of Visioor Project, available for PCs only. Buy Visio or buy Project.

Microsoft 365 subscriptions andOffice 2021 can be installed on either Mac or PC.Compare prices

You don't need to be online to use Microsoft 365apps after they are installed and activated on your devices. However, you will need internet access initially to install and activate Microsoft 365, to install any updates, and to manage your billing. Internet access is also required to access documents stored on OneDrive, unless you install the OneDrivedesktop app. However, after your Microsoft 365 apps (like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) are installed, you can use them offline.

You should connect to the internet regularly to keep your apps up to date and benefit from automatic upgrades. If you don’t connect to the Internet at least once a month, your applications will go into reduced functionality mode, and you might see an unlicensed product error. To reactivate your Microsoft 365 applications, simply reconnect to the internet and sign in to Microsoft 365. Learn how to sign in.

No. There are benefits with saving your files to the cloud, but the choice is yours. With both Microsoft 365 and non-subscription versions of Office, you choose where you want to store your documents. The option is yours tosave them to a local device or save them to the cloud using a service such as OneDrive.

You can even choose to store your files in the cloud, but continue to access them from your device whether you're online or offline. You do this by syncing your files to your device and making them available for offline access. SeeSync files with OneDrive in Windows orSync files with OneDrive on macOS.

To learn more about the benefits of saving to the cloud, seeVideo: Why store files in the cloud? To learn more about the choices for where to save your files, seeSave your files andSave, back up, and recover a file in Microsoft Office.

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See Also

Find out which Office is right for you

What's new in Microsoft 365

Install Office on your PC or Mac

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