Microsoft 365 Vs Office 2021: Which One Should You Use?

Two significant contenders stand out in the realm of productivity software: Microsoft 365 and Office 2021. As individuals and businesses seek the best-fit solution for their productivity needs, deciding between these options becomes crucial. This comparison will explore the differences between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021, exploring their licensing models, features, costs, support, updates, security, and more.

By examining these essential aspects, we aim to assist you in making an informed choice on whether to embrace the cloud-based subscription service of Microsoft 365 or opt for the one-time purchase of Office 2021. Join us as we unravel the nuances of Microsoft 365 Vs. Office 2021 to help you determine which suite best suits your unique requirements and empowers you to excel in your personal or professional endeavors.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 _fossguruMicrosoft 365 is a comprehensive and powerful productivity suite offered by Microsoft. It provides various applications and services to enhance collaboration, communication, and efficiency for individuals, businesses, and organizations. Microsoft 365 is widely used across the globe due to its extensive capabilities and user-friendly interface.

The suite includes popular applications like Microsoft Word, allowing users to create and edit documents easily. Microsoft Excel offers powerful spreadsheet functionalities for data analysis and calculation purposes. Microsoft PowerPoint enables users to design professional presentations with multimedia elements.

In addition to the classic Office applications, Microsoft 365 incorporates cloud-based services. OneDrive, for instance, is a cloud storage platform that allows users to store and access their files from anywhere with an internet connection. This feature facilitates seamless synchronization between devices, ensuring access to the most up-to-date files.

Moreover, Microsoft 365 includes Microsoft Outlook, a robust email and personal information management application. It allows users to manage emails, calendars, tasks, and contacts efficiently, making it an essential tool for professionals.

Beyond the core applications, Microsoft 365 offers additional services like SharePoint, a platform for creating, managing, and sharing content, and Yammer, a social networking tool for businesses to facilitate communication and information sharing.

With regular updates and continuous improvements, Microsoft 365 remains a versatile and indispensable suite for individuals and businesses, empowering them to accomplish tasks efficiently and stay connected in a fast-paced digital world.

System Requirements

For Windows:
  • Operating System: Windows 10 (32-bit or 64-bit editions) or Windows Server 2019.
  • Processor: 1.6 GHz or faster, dual-core.
  • RAM: 4 GB RAM for 64-bit, 2 GB RAM for 32-bit.
  • Hard Disk Space: 4 GB of available disk space.
  • Graphics: A DirectX 9 or later graphics card is required for graphics hardware acceleration.
For macOS:
  • Operating System: One of the three most recent versions of macOS. As of my last update, this would include macOS 10.14 Mojave, macOS 10.15 Catalina, and macOS 11 Big Sur.
  • Processor: Intel processor.
  • RAM: 4 GB RAM.
  • Hard Disk Space: 10 GB of available disk space. HFS+ hard disk format (also known as macOS Extended or APFS).

Office 2021

office 2021 -fossguruOffice 2021 is the latest standalone version of the Microsoft Office suite. It is a one-time purchase option for users who prefer not to subscribe to the Microsoft 365 service. Office 2021 provides a collection of essential productivity applications designed to meet the needs of individuals and businesses.

The suite includes classic Office applications like Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Microsoft Word is used for creating and editing documents, while Microsoft Excel offers powerful spreadsheet capabilities for data analysis and calculations. Microsoft PowerPoint is ideal for designing dynamic presentations, and Microsoft Outlook is a reliable email and personal information management tool.

Office 2021 does not require a continuous subscription, meaning users only need to make a one-time purchase to own the software permanently. This model allows users to access and use the applications locally on their devices without an internet connection, making it suitable for those who prefer offline Access.

Office 2021 provides the latest features, updates, and security patches, ensuring users have a current and reliable productivity suite for their daily tasks.

The standalone version is suitable for individuals and businesses who do not require the additional cloud services offered in Microsoft 365 and prefer a more traditional licensing model.

Overall, Office 2021 offers a solid and dependable set of productivity tools for users seeking a permanent and non-subscription-based solution to meet their office requirements.

System Requirements

  • Operating System: Windows 10 (64-bit) or later, or macOS 10.14 Mojave or later.
  • Processor: 64-bit processor with at least 1.6 GHz speed (for Windows) or an Intel processor (for macOS).
  • RAM: At least 4 GB RAM for optimal performance.
  • Hard Disk Space: Approximately 4 GB of available disk space for the installation. However, additional space may be required for updates and temporary files.
  • Graphics: A DirectX 9 or later graphics card with WDDM 2.0 driver (for Windows) or a compatible graphics processor (for macOS).
  • Display: A monitor with at least 1280 x 800 resolution.
  • Internet Connection: An internet connection is required for product activation, updates, and Access to online features.

Difference Between Microsoft 360 vs Office 2021

Here are some essential differences on the topic of Microsoft 360 vs Office 2021.

Office 2021

Microsoft 365


Starting at USD 149.99

Starting at USD 9.99/month

License type

Perpetual, one-time purchase

Monthly or yearly subscription


  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook (in Business edition)
  • Publisher and Access (in Professional edition)
  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Outlook
  • Publisher
  • Access
  • OneNote
  • Teams

many more in different plans

Apps on the web



Users and devices

1 user on 1 PC or MAC 1 user on a desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone
Online storage


1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage


First 60 days

Around-the-clock phone and online support


Security and stability updates only Feature, security, and stability updates are installed automatically


Monthly security updates
  • Regular security updates
  • Access and privacy controls
  • Password policies.

License Type

Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based service, meaning users pay a recurring fee (monthly or annually) to access the applications and services. This model allows continuous Access to the latest updates and features as long as the subscription remains active. In contrast, Office 2021 is a one-time purchase option. Users make a single upfront payment and own the software permanently without any further payments. The choice between the two depends on whether you prefer the convenience of continuous updates and Access to cloud services through a subscription or a one-time payment without ongoing costs.


The cost of Microsoft 365 varies based on the specific plan chosen and the number of users included. Since it involves a subscription, users need to budget for regular payments. On the other hand, Office 2021 requires only one payment upfront, making it attractive for users who prefer to avoid recurring expenses.


Microsoft 365 and Office 2021 include essential applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook for everyday productivity tasks. However, Microsoft 365 might offer additional applications like Publisher (for desktop publishing) and Access (for databases), depending on the specific subscription plan. If you require these additional applications, Microsoft 365 may suit your needs.

Customer Support

Subscribers of Microsoft 365 benefit from ongoing customer support. Microsoft assists with technical issues and continuously improves the user experience with updates. On the other hand, Office 2021 typically offers essential support, and users may need to purchase additional support packages for more extensive assistance.

Mobile Compatibility

Microsoft 365 and Office 2021 have mobile versions available, enabling users to access some Office applications on smartphones and tablets. However, Microsoft 365’s mobile apps often offer more features and seamless integration with cloud services, allowing users to work across devices and access files from anywhere.

App on the Web

Microsoft 365 provides web-based versions of Office applications accessible through a web browser. This allows users to work on their documents without installing software locally. In contrast, Office 2021 lacks web-based applications, limiting users to working on devices where the software is installed.

Users and Devices Connected

Microsoft 365 offers greater flexibility regarding users and devices. Depending on the subscription plan, multiple users can share the service through their accounts and use it on different devices simultaneously. This feature is handy for families, businesses, or organizations with multiple users. In contrast, Office 2021 is typically limited to use on a single device per license.


Microsoft 365 subscribers receive regular updates, including new features, improvements, and security patches. This ensures users have Access to the latest functionalities as long as their subscription is active. On the other hand, Office 2021 might receive security updates but lacks the ongoing feature updates provided by Microsoft 365.


Both Microsoft 365 and Office 2021 offer security features to protect documents and data. Microsoft 365’s cloud-based nature often provides additional security measures and allows for data backup in the cloud. However, the overall security level can also depend on how users manage their files and settings within the software.

Cloud Storage and Collaboration

Microsoft 365 offers a significant advantage by integrating cloud services like OneDrive. This allows users to store files in the cloud, making them accessible from any device with an internet connection. The cloud storage feature facilitates easy collaboration, enabling multiple users to simultaneously work on the same document. This seamless collaboration is particularly beneficial for teams working together, as they can view, edit, and comment on files in real time, improving productivity and streamlining workflows.

On the other hand, Office 2021 lacks built-in cloud storage integration. While you can save files locally or use other cloud storage services, it may provide a different convenience and real-time collaboration than Microsoft 365. Users might need to manually share files and manage different versions, which could be less efficient, especially for teams or individuals working in different locations.


Microsoft 365 offers greater accessibility through its web-based versions of Office applications and mobile apps. Users can access their files and work on documents from any device with internet access, whether a computer, tablet, or smartphone. 

While Office 2021 does have mobile apps, it lacks web-based versions of the applications. This limitation means that users might have more restricted accessibility options, especially when they don’t have access to their primary device. Without web-based Access, working on files or documents from a different device may require additional steps and could be less convenient compared to the continuous Access provided by Microsoft 365.

Additional Services and Features

As a subscription-based service, Microsoft 365 often includes additional services like Microsoft Teams. This platform facilitates organizational communication and collaboration, providing a hub for team discussions, video meetings, and file sharing. Depending on the subscription plan, Microsoft 365 offers cloud-based versions of applications that receive more frequent updates.

On the other hand, Office 2021 is primarily focused on the core applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. It does not include the additional services provided by Microsoft 365, which might be essential for users looking for a comprehensive suite with various collaboration tools.

Integration with Other Microsoft Services

Microsoft 365 benefits from seamless integration with other Microsoft services, such as SharePoint and Dynamics 365. This integration provides a more unified and streamlined experience for businesses and organizations that use multiple Microsoft products.

While Office 2021 can work with other Microsoft services, the level of integration and compatibility might not be as comprehensive as with Microsoft 365. Users relying heavily on Microsoft’s interconnected services may find the extended ecosystem of Microsoft 365 more advantageous.

Licensing Flexibility

The subscription-based model of Microsoft 365 offers more flexibility in licensing, making it suitable for businesses and organizations with varying user needs. Administrators can easily add or remove users as required and adjust the subscription plan to match the organization’s changing requirements. 

On the other hand, Office 2021 follows a one-time purchase model. While it may be more suitable for individuals or small businesses with fixed needs, adjusting licensing for a growing organization could be more cumbersome. 

Which one to choose?

Choosing Microsoft 365 or Office 2021 depends on your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Here are some factors to consider:

Choose Microsoft 365 if:

  • Ongoing Updates: You want continuous Access to the latest features, improvements, and security patches. Microsoft 365’s subscription model ensures you stay up-to-date with the latest advancements.
  • Cloud Services: Access to cloud storage (OneDrive) and collaboration tools (Microsoft Teams) is essential for your work or team projects.
  • Multiple Devices and Users: You need the flexibility to use the service on multiple devices and share it with other users, especially in businesses or families.
  • Additional Applications: You require applications like Publisher (for desktop publishing) or Access (for databases) not included in the core Office suite.

Choose Office 2021 if:

  • One-Time Payment: You prefer to make a single upfront payment and own the software permanently without recurring expenses.
  • Local Installation: You mainly work on a single device and don’t require Access to files and applications from multiple devices or locations.
  • Basic Needs: You only require the core Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook) for standard productivity tasks and don’t need additional services or features.
  • Limited Collaboration: You primarily work independently or with minimal collaboration needs; cloud-based collaboration tools are not a priority.


Ultimately, the choice depends on how you plan to use the software, collaboration requirements, and financial considerations. If you need the latest features, cloud services, and collaboration tools, Microsoft 365 is likely the better fit. On the other hand, if you prefer a one-time payment and have basic productivity needs, Office 2021 might be more suitable. Consider your specific needs and how each option aligns with your workflow to make the best decision for your situation. S, it is up to you t choose when it comes to Microsoft 365 or Office 2021.

Fardeen is a tech expert and enthusiast who graduated from a reputable university. With his passion for technology and commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest advancements, Fardeen has become a valuable resource for anyone seeking guidance in the ever-evolving digital landscape. His dedication and eagerness to share his knowledge with others make him a valuable asset in the technology industry. Fardeen's skills and expertise could be harnessed to pursue a career in technology or even start his venture to help others harness the power of technology.

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