Microsoft Office 2019: Everything you want to know

Are you eagerly anticipating the release of Microsoft Office 2019? You are not alone. Plenty of others are waiting with bated breath to see what sorts of features will be packed into this brand-new version. As expected, Microsoft has remained pretty tight-lipped about what we can expect to see in regards to Office 2019 features. Despite Microsoft keeping their cards pretty close to the vest but digging through the rumor mill has yielded what features are likely to crop up in this new Office update.

When will Office 2019 be released?

Microsoft has yet to announce an official release date. However, they have mentioned that they are planning on the second half of 2018. Office 2016 was released toward the end of September, so you could speculate that Office 2019 will be released around that same time. But, there is really no way to know for sure when you will be able to get your hands on the latest update.

Commercial, volume-licensing customers can preview Office 2019 before official launch thanks to Microsoft’s Commercial Preview program. To be eligible for the preview, your business needs to be registered with Microsoft Collaborate.

Office 2019 vs. Office 365

While Microsoft has stayed relatively quiet about the specifics of what people can expect in the new Office 2019, they have teased a few features. Many of those features are already offered in Office 365, which has led to some confusion among customers: What exactly is the difference between Office 2019 and Office 365?

Here is the main difference: Office 2019 is a one-time purchase, and you will not receive any feature updates after you buy it. Of course, you will still get standard security and quality updates — but you will see any new tools or functionality added. You will need to be using Windows 10 as your operating system in order to run Office 2019.

In contrast, Office 355 is a subscription-based service. Unlike Office 2019, Office 365 is powered by Microsoft cloud and thus includes more collaborative and up-to-date features than Microsoft’s perpetual software does. Microsoft has channeled much of its recent energy and attention into Office 365 in the cloud, however, they also recognized that not everybody was willing and ready to make that switch.

“Most of our cloud-powered innovation is coming to Office 365 and Microsoft 365,” explains Microsoft in their FAQs about the Office 2019 preview, “However, we know that this is a journey for some customers who cannot move to the cloud in the near term. We want to support all our customers in their journey to the cloud.” Again, many of the features we can expect from Office 2019 are likely already offered via Office 365. But, this perpetual software update is a good way for users who are not ready to move to the cloud to get access to the new tools and functionality.

Office 2019 features we’ll likely see

Again, it is tough to speculate exactly what we should anticipate seeing in the new Office 2019, especially when features in preview or beta mode do not always end up in the final product. But, Microsoft has teased users’ interests with a few interesting features.

1. Word 2019 is focusing on “Getting work done easier,” and new features include: Black theme, Office sounds, Learning tools captions and audio descriptions, Text to speech, Improved inking functionality, and Accessibility improvements.

2. Excel 2019 is focusing on “Performing better data analysis,” and new features include: Funnel charts and 2D maps, New Excel functions and connectors, Publish Excel to PowerBI, PowerPivot enhancements, and PowerQuery enhancements.

When it comes to data management and analysis, Excel still reigns supreme. Office plans to kick things up a notch in the 2019 version of the software.

3. PowerPoint 2019 is focusing on “Creating more impactful content,” and new features include: Zoom capabilities for ordering of slides within presentations, Morph transition feature, Insert and manage Icons, SVG, and 3D models, and Improved roaming pencil case.

Those features are already included in Office 365 ProPlus but are not available to people who are currently operating with Office 2016.

4. Outlook 2019 is focusing on “Managing email more efficiently,” and new features included: Updated contact cards, Office 365 Groups (requires Exchange online account), @mentions, Focused inbox, and Travel and delivery summary cards.

Microsoft is hopeful that these additions will help users manage their email far more efficiently and effectively.

5. Improved inking features. Those who use Microsoft Surface devices are probably already big fans of the digital pen that allow them to draw, note, and doodle directly onto their device’s screen.

Office 2019 will introduce all new inking capabilities across all apps — such as pressure sensitivity, tilt effects that adjust the ink’s thickness depending on the angle of the pen, and even a roaming pencil case, which allows users to store and organize their favorite pens, pencils, and highlighters to roam with them across their different devices.

Office 2019 (perpetual) vs. Office 365 (subscription)

Office 2019 (for both Windows and Mac) is a one-time purchase and does not receive feature updates after purchase. Office 2019 includes a meaningful subset of features found in Office 365, but it is not part of Office 365. Office 2019 will receive quality and security patch updates as required.

Office 365 is a user-based subscription service powered by the Microsoft cloud. It provides access to a suite of services beyond what the perpetual version provides, and receives feature updates on an ongoing basis. Essentially it includes the most collaborative, secure, and up-to-date features.

Why is Microsoft launching Office 2019 when it has shifted its strategy to Office 365 in the cloud?

Most of our cloud-powered innovation is coming to Office 365 and Microsoft 365. However, Microsoft recognizes that some customers cannot move to the cloud in the near term, and they want to support all of their customers in their journey to the cloud, at the pace that makes the most sense to them.

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