What Is The Difference Between Microsoft Office Classic and Premium

June 15, 2020 - by Bill Jelen

What Is The Difference Between Microsoft Office Classic and Premium

What do you lose when you choose Microsoft Office Classic instead of Premium? A lot! Our recommendation at MrExcel is that you should never buy Office 2019. It is obsolete and missing important features.

Office versions comparison
Choose the right Office

While Classic Office provides the basic features, you won’t be getting any of the shiny new features that Microsoft is investing heavily in now.

The retail box for Microsoft Office 2019 Home & Student makes it clear that you are not getting Outlook, Access or Publisher when you buy Excel 2019. But in the feature description for Word, Excel, Power Point and OneNote it says that you are getting “Classic” instead of “Premium”. What does that really mean?

I don’t think it is fair for Microsoft to not explain what you are losing when you choose the Classic version of Excel. I can’t find any description of what you get in Excel Classic versus Excel Premium, so I made my own:

Feature Classic Premium
Can use SUM function
XLOOKUP (superior to VLOOKUP in every way)
Automate with VBA
Automate with M (using Power Query)
Automate with TypeScript
Import PDF files Using Power Query
Fuzzy Matching in Power Query
Data Profiling in Power Query
Intellisene in Power Query
Create Pivot Tables
Set Defaults for Future Pivot Tables
Power Pivot
Collaborate: Multiple people editing same workbook
Dynamic Array formulas
Data Types for Geography, Stocks, Exchange Rates
STOCKHISTORY function for historical stock & exchange rates
Artificial Intelligence to analyze your data
Insert Cutout People in your documents
Smart Lookup
Sheet View (improvement on Custom Views)
Picture Transparency
Ink to Shape
Store variables in formulas with LET function

The simple fact: Excel 2019 includes most features released before March 2018. It does not include any of the new Artificial Intelligence features. You don’t get the new Wolfram Alpha data types. You won’t get the new calculation engine that was rewritten and released in September 2019. The Excel team describes the new collaboration feature as “Excel’s Moon Shot”, but you won’t be able to collaborate if you buy Office 2019.

If you want the latest and greatest features, the best route is to subscribe to Microsoft 365. There are various plans for home, student, or business. Any of those should deliver the power you need in Excel.

How about Word? What is lost if you choose Word Classic instead of Premium? You won’t get the Dictation feature. The Resume creator is missing. Ink gestures, the new commenting tools, follow-ups, and Transform to Sway are all missing. The “Editor” icon offers improvements to grammar and spelling checker in Word.

In PowerPoint, you will lose: Subtitles and Live Captions for Presentations. The AI-based Designer is not available. Enhancements to Morph are not available. You can not re-use slides.

Several features are common to Office Premium and will be missing from Excel, Word, and PowerPoint: Ink to Shape, Picture Transparency, Cutout People, Sensitivity Labels, @Mentions in Comments.

MrExcel’s recommendation: Take Office 2019 out of your shopping cart and go with a subscription to Microsoft 365.

Thanks to Word MVP Ute Simon and Office MVP David Benaim for providing the lists of features missing from Word and Power Point.

Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of:
MrExcel 2022 Boosting Excel

The 6th Edition of MrExcel XL, updated with new functions released for Microsoft 365.