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Microsoft Office 2019 vs. Microsoft Office 2021: A Comprehensive Comparison

Microsoft Office has been a dominant player in the productivity software market for decades. With every new release, Microsoft introduces significant updates and improvements to enhance user experience and productivity. In this article, we will compare two popular versions of Microsoft Office – Microsoft Office 2019 and Microsoft Office 2021. We will explore the new features, improvements, and differences between the two, helping users make an informed decision when choosing the most suitable Office suite for their needs.

Features and Enhancements in Microsoft Office 2019

Microsoft Office 2019 was released as the successor to Office 2016 and brought several new features and enhancements across its core applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook.

  1. Modernized User Interface: One of the noticeable changes in Office 2019 was the modernized user interface. The ribbon interface received a facelift, providing users with a cleaner and more intuitive look. While the changes weren’t revolutionary, they made navigation and accessing various functions more straightforward and efficient.
  2. Improved Inking Features: For users with touch-enabled devices, Office 2019 offered improved inking features. This allowed users to write, draw, or highlight directly on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The enhanced inking experience provided better precision and responsiveness, making it ideal for those who prefer the convenience of a stylus or touchscreen.
  3. Enhanced Data Analysis in Excel: Excel received a significant boost in data analysis capabilities. With the inclusion of new functions and charts, users could perform more complex calculations and visualize data in more meaningful ways. Power users and data analysts found these enhancements particularly useful when dealing with large datasets.

What’s New in Microsoft Office 2021

Released two years after Office 2019, Microsoft Office 2021 aimed to provide users with an updated and more feature-rich productivity suite.

  1. Collaboration Made Easier: Microsoft Office 2021 placed a strong emphasis on collaboration. Real-time co-authoring was significantly improved, enabling multiple users to work simultaneously on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Additionally, the integration of Microsoft Teams directly into the Office suite streamlined communication and collaboration even further.
  2. More AI-Powered Features: Office 2021 introduced more AI-powered features across its applications. These features included AI-driven design suggestions in PowerPoint, smart data types in Excel that could pull information from the web, and advanced grammar checking in Word. The integration of artificial intelligence made Office 2021 more efficient and user-friendly.
  3. Performance and Stability: Microsoft focused on optimizing the performance and stability of Office 2021. Users reported faster loading times and smoother operation compared to its predecessor. The improved performance was particularly noticeable when handling large documents or complex spreadsheets.

User Experience and Interface

Both Office 2019 and Office 2021 boast user-friendly interfaces, but there are subtle differences that set them apart.

  1. Office 2019: The user interface in Office 2019 is clean, familiar, and intuitive. Users who have been using Office for years will find it easy to navigate through the applications. The ribbon interface organizes tools and features logically, making them easily accessible. However, Office 2019 might feel a bit dated compared to more modern software interfaces.
  2. Office 2021: Office 2021 retains the core principles of the ribbon interface but introduces subtle design changes, giving it a fresh and contemporary look. The addition of dark mode not only adds visual appeal but also reduces eye strain during extended usage. Users who prefer a more modern interface might find Office 2021’s design more attractive and engaging.
  3. Touch and Pen Support: Both Office versions offer touch and pen support, but Office 2021 takes it a step further with improved inking capabilities and enhanced touch optimizations. For users with touch-enabled devices like tablets and 2-in-1 laptops, Office 2021 provides a smoother and more seamless experience.

Licensing and Pricing Options

When it comes to licensing and pricing, there are differences between Microsoft Office 2019 and Microsoft Office 2021 that users should consider.

  1. Office 2019: Office 2019 follows a traditional licensing model, where users pay a one-time fee for the software. This means that once purchased, users can use the software indefinitely, but they might miss out on the latest updates and features available in subsequent versions.
  2. Office 2021: Office 2021, on the other hand, introduced a subscription-based licensing option called Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365). With Microsoft 365, users pay a monthly or annual fee and receive continuous updates, feature enhancements, and access to additional cloud-based services such as OneDrive and Microsoft Teams.
  3. Hybrid Options: For those who prefer the traditional licensing model but still want access to the latest features, Microsoft also offers a “perpetual license” option for Office 2021. This license provides access to the latest Office features for a one-time payment but does not include the cloud-based services and additional benefits of Microsoft 365.

Which Version Should You Choose?

When deciding between Microsoft Office 2019 and Microsoft Office 2021, several factors come into play.

  1. Cost Considerations: Typically, the newer version is more expensive than the older one. Therefore, if budget is a significant concern, Office 2019 might be the more economical option. However, users should also consider the lifespan of the software and the likelihood of needing to upgrade sooner.
  2. Compatibility and Support: Office 2021 is likely to be more compatible with modern hardware and operating systems, whereas Office 2019 might face compatibility issues as technology advances. Additionally, the support lifecycle for Office 2019 might be shorter than that of Office 2021, meaning the latter will receive updates and security patches for a more extended period.
  3. Feature Requirements: Evaluate your specific feature requirements. If the AI-powered enhancements, improved collaboration, and enhanced inking features of Office 2021 are essential for your productivity, it might be the better choice. However, if you mainly use basic Office functions and do not require the latest features, Office 2019 could suffice.


Both Microsoft Office 2019 and Microsoft Office 2021 are powerful productivity suites that cater to various user needs. Office 2019 provides a solid set of features for users who prefer a stable and cost-effective solution. On the other hand, Office 2021 excels in collaboration, AI integration, and performance, making it an attractive option for users who demand the latest advancements. Consider your budget, feature requirements, and compatibility needs before making your decision. Whichever version you choose, Microsoft Office remains an indispensable tool for productivity and creativity in the modern workplace.