What's the difference between Office 365 and Office 2016?

Office 365 is a subscription service that includes the most recent version of Office, which currently is Office 2016. It comes with the applications you’re familiar with, like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, plus extra online storage, ongoing tech support at no extra cost, and more.

You can choose to pay for an Office 365 subscription on a monthly or yearly basis, and the Office 365 Home plan lets you share your subscription with up to four members of your household. Different Office 365 plans are available for home and personal use, as well as for small and midsized businesses, enterprises, schools, and nonprofits.

Office 2016 is also sold as a one-time purchase, which means you pay a single, up-front cost to get Office applications for one computer. One-time purchases are available for both PCs (such as Office Home & Student 2016) and Macs (such as Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac). One-time purchases don’t have an upgrade option, which means if you plan to upgrade to the next major release, you'll have to buy it at full price.

Office Online is the free version of Office that you can use in your web browser. Try the Office Online apps.

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

Your browser does not support video. Install Microsoft Silverlight, Adobe Flash Player, or Internet Explorer 9.

Compare Office 2016 as a one-time purchase to an Office 365 subscription

One-time purchase
(Example: Office Home & Student 2016)

Office 365 subscription
(Example: Office 365 Home)


Pay a single, one-time cost

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

Office applications


Get Office 2016 applications, like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Your apps won't be updated when new features are released.


Get the latest version of Office applications, like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Right now that’s Office 2016, but your version will continue to receive new feature updates. PC users also get Access and Publisher.

Feature updates

Not included

Security updates are included, but you won’t get new features that are added to Office 2016. Upgrades to major releases are not included.


Your version of Office will always be improving. Get the latest features and updates from Microsoft. Major upgrades to future versions are included.

Install Office on more than one computer (Mac or PC)

Not included

One-time purchases are designed for a single operating system, so your copy of Office is good for either one Mac or one PC.


With Office 365 Home, you can install Office desktop applications on up to 5 computers, which can be a combination of Macs and PCs. If you don’t need all of those installs, share them with members of your household.

Install Office and get advanced features on tablets and phones

Not included

Get basic editing features only on your tablet or phone.


Get extra features when you sign in to Office apps on your device. With Office 365 Home, you'll get these extra features on up to 5 tablets and 5 smartphones.

Extra online storage

Not included

Not included.


Securely store your files in the cloud and access them from anywhere. Get 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage per user, for up to 5 users.

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.


Choose an option below to get pricing info.

For home or personal use

Compare prices

For business use

Office 365 subscriptions

Office 365 Home (share with up to four members of your household)

Office 365 Personal (for one individual)

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

Compare Office 365 enterprise plans

One-time purchases of Office

For one PC:

Office Home & Student 2016

Office Home & Business 2016

Office Professional 2016

For one Mac:

Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac

Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac

For one PC:

Office Home & Business 2016

Office Professional 2016

For one Mac:

Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac

For nonprofits: Office 365 Nonprofit plans

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

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

Office 365 subscriptions work on both Macs and PCs. However, if you want a one-time purchase of Office, you’ll need to buy Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac or buy Office Home & Student 2016 for Mac. The primary difference between these two products is that Office Home & Business 2016 for Mac includes Outlook and is licensed for business use.

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

You should connect to the Internet regularly to keep your version of Office up to date and benefit from automatic upgrades. If you don’t connect to the Internet at least every 39 days, your applications will go into reduced functionality mode, and you might see an unlicensed product error. To reactivate your Office applications, simply reconnect to the Internet and sign in to Office 365. Learn how to sign in.

See Also

Find out which Office is right for you

What's New and Improved in Office 2016 for Office 365

Install Office on your PC or Mac

Share Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Email Email

Was this information helpful?

Great! Any other feedback?

How can we improve it?

Thank you for your feedback!