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What version of Office 365 has the best Excel experience?


June 07, 2019 - by Bill Jelen

Which version of Office 365 should you buy? If you spend 20, 30, 40, or more hours a week in Excel, there are three specific choices that will work.

Microsoft marketing has made it super-confusing to figure out which version of Office is the right one for you. In most companies, your I.T. department is going to make the decision, but as an Exceller, it is critical that you provide input to the I.T. department.


These are the versions that you should consider:

  • Office 365 Pro Plus is US $12 per month per user. Along with Excel, you get Power Pivot, Power Query, Inquire, and 3D Maps. This covers Office installed on up to five PCs. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneDrive. When you visit the landing page, the important paragraph is the third one under All Features.

    Office 365 Pro Plus
    Office 365 Pro Plus

  • Office 365 Enterprise E3 is $20 per month per user. It also includes Excel tools such as Power Pivot, Power Query, Inquire, and 3D Maps. It can be installed on five PCs. It includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, OneNote, Publisher, SharePoint, Access, and Teams. The magic paragraph is found when you scroll 53% down the page:

    Office 365 Enterprise E3
    Office 365 Enterprise E3

  • Office 365 Enterprise E5 is $35 per month per user. It includes everything in Enterprise E3 plus a Power BI Pro subscription for live dashboards. There is no “magic paragraph” on this landing page, but the Excel team in Redmond assures me that it includes everything in Enterprise E3.


You Can Save Money In Very Limited Circumstances:

  • Office 365 Home is US $99 per year for up to six devices in one home. As of 2018, this version includes Excel, with Power Pivot, Power Query, Inquire, and 3D Maps. It also includes Publisher and Access. But there is a huge catch. According to paragraph 1aIV of the License Terms, you can not use this version for “commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating activities.” Some people might be using Excel just for fun. If you are one of them, I applaud you, and buy the Home edition here:


  • Office 365 Personal is US $69.99 per year for use by one person. You can use the device on multiple devices (PC, laptop, and phone), but it is only licensed to one person. As of 2018, this version includes Excel, with Power Pivot, Power Query, Inquire, and 3D Maps. It also includes Publisher and Access. According to paragraph 1aIV of the License Terms, you can not use this version for “commercial, non-profit, or revenue-generating activities.” Buy the Personal edition here:


    To overcome the prohibition on commercial activities, you can go one of two routes.

    • If you are an employee of an organization that has a Microsoft Volume License agreement with active Software Assurance or previously had active Software Assurance, or that meets certain other criteria. For so long as you meet Home Use Program User eligibility requirements, you may subscribe to and use the service/software for commercial purposes at the above prices.
    • Or, some countries offer Office 365 Solo as described below.

  • Office 365 Solo is US $117.75 per year for use by one person. The Solo version does not include the limitation for non-commercial use only. However, it is currently offered only in Japan.


These are the versions that an Exceller should never consider:

Never consider Office 365 Enterprise/E1. This $8 a month plan offers Office on five phones or tablets. This is not the real Excel. Anyone beyond a casual user will not be able to function with this.

Office 365 Enterprise/E1
Office 365 Enterprise/E1

Office 2019 is already obsolete. It does not have any features introduced in the last nine months of Excel 2018 nor anything released in Office 2019. Avoid these at all costs: Office 2019 Home & Student. Office 2019 Home & Business. Office 2019. You will be missing: Artificial Intelligence with Ideas, Geography Data Types. Stock Data Types. Exchange Rates. Awesome new functions like SORT, SORTBY, FILTER, UNIQUE, RANDARRAY, and SEQUENCE.

If you need the cool Excel tools like Inquire and Power Pivot, do not consider Office 365 for Business, or Office 365 Business Premium. These plans at $8.25 a month and $12.50 a month do not include the power tools for Excel.

If you need the cool Excel tools like Inquire and Power Pivot, do not consider Office 365 Home nor Office 365 Personal as your only version of Excel. These plans at $99.99 per year or $69.99 per year do not include the power tools for Excel. You can probably survive if you have Office 365 ProPlus at work and Office 365 Home at home.


Bill Jelen is the author / co-author of
Microsoft Excel 2019 VBA and Macros

Use this guide to automate virtually any routine Excel task: save yourself hours, days, maybe even weeks. Make Excel do things you thought were impossible, discover macro techniques you won’t find anywhere else, and create automated reports that are amazingly powerful.