Microsoft really, really, really doesn’t want you to buy Office 2019

Microsoft launched a new ad campaign for its Office suite today. Usually, that’s not something especially interesting, but this one is a bit different. Instead of simply highlighting the features of Word and Excel, Microsoft decided to pitch Office 365 and Office 2019 against each other (as an extra gimmick, it used twins to do so, too). But here’s the deal: Microsoft really doesn’t want you to buy Office 2019, and the ads make that abundantly clear.

The reason for that is obvious: Office 365 is a subscription product while Office 2019 (think Office Home & Student or other SKUs) comes with a perpetual license, so that’s a one-time sale for Microsoft. Subscriptions are a better business for Microsoft in the long run (hence its recent focus on products like Microsoft 365, too).

For the longest time, the annual non-365 Office release was simply a snapshot of the state of the Office apps at a given time. That changed with Office 365. Now, Office 365 users are the ones who get all the online features, including a bunch of AI-driven tools, while the Office 2019 versions don’t get any of these.

Office 365 subscriptions start at $70 for personal use and $8.25/month for business users. Office Home and Business is a one-time $250 purchase.

Unsurprisingly, in the new ads, which give the actors twins various challenges to perform in the likes of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, Office 365 beats Office 2019 every time. Yawn. The ads aren’t very good and you will cringe a few times (though sadly, they are no rival to Microsoft’s worst commercial ever, 2009’s Songsmith debacle), but you’ll definitely come away with a sense that Microsoft really wants you to subscribe to Office 365 and not buy a perpetual Office 2019 license and then maybe buy the next update in 2025.