In recent years, organizations have moved more toward cloud-based offerings, which is simply a software-as-a-service model. Cloud-based models have various advantages like pay-per-use, scalability, flexibility, ready-to-move environment, hassle free maintenance and support. Microsoft's Office 365 is a cloud-based office solution. The other versions of Microsoft Office are installation based, which follows the traditional buy-and-install model, and the license is purchased on a per-user basis. Therefore, to use Microsoft Office on multiple systems, then one must purchase multiple licenses. But in case of Office 365, the service is multi-user and subscription based.
Installation-based versions of Microsoft Office are traditional software, which is purchased with a one-time fee, and can then be installed on a system for use. However, multiple copies must be purchased for installation on multiple machines. These traditional one-time purchase versions come with applications like Excel, PowerPoint and Word for a single machine. The updating is also not automatic; one must purchase the latest versions to get newer features and updates. These versions do not provide any online storage, and the technical support is also limited to initial installation.
The Office 365 subscription model comes with applications like Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote and Access. In this model, one can either pay a small monthly fee or annual payment with an additional discount. Office 365 can be installed on multiple devices like PCs, Macs, phones (Android & iPhone) and tablets. The installation is allowed on up to five devices (in any combination) and the updates are also automatic (no need to buy new copies or subscriptions). Cloud storage is available for sharing or collaboration purposes from anywhere and any system. Continuous technical support throughout the subscription period is also included.
Both Office 365 and installation-based versions of Office each have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages, so the decision between the two entirely depends upon the users and their individual needs.