At the recent Ignite conference, Microsoft announced the general availability of Office 2019—a move that caused a bit of confusion among organizations and business users. What is it? How does it differ from Office 365? What does it mean for Office 365 subscribers? What does it mean for my organization?
The answers to some of the questions are straightforward. Office 2019 is the latest standalone, one-time-purchase version (now called “perpetual” by Microsoft) of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Project, Visio, Access, and Publisher.
Regarding what Office 2019 will mean for your organization—that depends mostly on whether you use a standalone version or cloud-based Office 365. For Office 365 subscribers, it will not mean much—all the features that are new to Office 2019 were rolled out to Office 365 over the past three years.
However, for organizations using a standalone version and Windows 10, an Office 2019 upgrade will deliver three years’ worth of new features, including:
- Excel: New functions, 2D maps, and Power Pivot and Power Query enhancements. Users will also be able to publish from Excel to Power BI in Office 2019.
- Outlook: Updates to contact cards, support for “@ mentions” in Outlook, and focused inbox features.
- Word: A new black theme, learning tools, text-to-speech features, plus accessibility and usability updates.
- PowerPoint: Support for 3D model display and manipulation and SVG files on slides, new morph transitions, enhanced zoom capabilities, and the ability to write by hand and move elements with your pencil while editing.
- OneNote: The updates to OneNote are perhaps the most extensive. These include ink effects, improved ink-to-text, Researcher, a notification center, integration with Windows 10, and more. Microsoft said in a separate release that it combines OneNote 2016’s best features with Windows 10 usability. These features include ink-to-text, improved syncing and an enhanced user experience.
Office 2019 applications will receive regular security and stability updates, but they will not receive feature updates. Additionally, Office 2019 does not include any of the cloud-connected features found in Office 365—such as Editor and Researcher in Word; Designer in PowerPoint; the Ideas feature in Excel; real-time collaboration across Word, Excel and PowerPoint; and more.
An upgrade to Office 2019 will be no small task. To enable employees to stay productive—and to ensure the organization gets the most value from its tech investment—business leaders need to approach Office 2019 with a solid plan that includes training, support, software coaching, and clear communication.
Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.