MS Home vs. Business: What’s The Difference?

By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 02/23/19 •  16 min read

Microsoft Office 365 is the premier Office software solution for both home and business use. Both the home version and the business version share many similarities, but what are the differences between Microsoft Office home versus Microsoft Office business?

Both the Home and Business versions of Microsoft Office share the following programs and services: Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access, Skype and OneDrive. The Business version does not include Publisher, but does include Exchange, Sharepoint and Teams, while Office for Home does not.

Microsoft has empowered business users and home users alike, by providing software tools to increase productivity. Microsoft Office is the standard measure by which all other software productivity tools compare.

A Brief History of Microsoft Office

The first version of Microsoft Office was made for the Mac.

Since 1989, Microsoft released the first version of the Office suite, known as “Microsoft Office”. Ironically, the first official version of Microsoft Office, which included Excel, PowerPoint, and Word. was released for the Macintosh operating system.

On November 19, 1990, Office for Windows was available for the young Windows operating system, Windows 2.0. Prior to this release, you could purchase each program separately, but only for MS-DOS.

It is important to note that back when Microsoft Office was released for Windows, it did not look anything like it does today. The graphical interface was very rudimentary by today’s standards. Prior to the release of Microsoft Office 1.0, people would primarily use the keyboard to navigate from within Excel and Word, as the computer mouse was not widely accepted at that point. In fact, in order to use these MS-DOS based programs efficiently, you almost needed to be a computer geek in order to take advantage of all that they had to offer.

Microsoft Office changed all that. It brought simplicity, making it a lot easier to navigate (with a mouse), and offered an all new WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) interface, which made using a computer exciting.

Things have dramatically changed in the last 20 years.

There have been other “Office” solutions that have tried to topple Microsoft Office, including Star Office, WPS Office, Libra Office to name a few. Admittedly, Google does offer great free Office solution which has increased in popularity in the last 10 years, but none of these have even come close to dethroning Microsoft Office.

The problem for competitors of Microsoft Office is that it has so saturated the market worldwide. Like Windows, everybody uses Microsoft Office, and it shows no sign of slowing down. On the contrary, more people are using Microsoft Office today than ever before.

Microsoft continues to thrive as industry leaders delivering stellar software products. They are not just leading the industry, they are steering the industry.

Back in 2001 or so, I remember spending $503 for Microsoft Office at Staples. That was in incredible amount of money for us back then, and we really could not afford it at the time, but we bought it as an investment because we knew that we would be using Microsoft Office for years to come.

Today, Microsoft offers their Office suite as a subscription plan. I love it because it is fair. I sure wish that they had offered this back in 2001.

Microsoft Office is made available for a very fair price.

If Microsoft had offered a subscription plan back in 2001, I would have subscribed. Microsoft would have made a ton of money off of me, ($1,800) had I kept my monthly subscription at $99.99 a year. However, I would have been able to afford that, and I would have received updates to Microsoft Office as long as I maintained my subscription. More on subscription plans later. Let’s take a look at Microsoft Office Home.

Microsoft Office For Home

What is Microsoft Office for Home and what does it include? Let’s get right to it and take a close look at its offerings.

Microsoft Office for Home is a suite of Office applications designed specifically for Home use. How do you define “Home use”? These are applications that you would use to manage your home with.

For example, your kids could use Microsoft Word to write complete homework assignments and write term papers. You might find yourself using Excel to create a budget, and your kids might use PowerPoint to prepare for a school presentation. You could use Outlook to manage all of your e-mail, Microsoft Publisher to create flyers or brochures, and Microsoft Access to manage a wine collection or even your household finances. Skype will allow you to visually call someone on the other side of the planet, or across the street, and OneDrive let’s you save everything you create in any of your Office applications in safely in the cloud.

Now, let’s take a quick look at each of these applications. Microsoft Office for Home applications include all of the following.

Microsoft Word

Word is where it all started. Microsoft Word is a word-processor that allows you to create, edit and format documents of any type for any use. Microsoft Word is arguably the most widely used Office application in the world, having found it’s way in millions of businesses world-wide.

Microsoft Excel

Excel is a spreadsheet in an electronic format used for storing, organizing and manipulating data. This data can be manipulated to create graphical charts to help users identify trends, expose trends, and filter data to find specific information. Additionally, you can link this data for use in other Microsoft Office applications

Microsoft PowerPoint

PowerPoint is widely used to easily create presentations. Kids can use it to create school projects, and adults can use it to make a presentation before their client, or perhaps to pitch an idea with the decision makers in their place of business. It is “Wizard” driven to make it easy to create a presentation within minutes, and you can fully customize the layout and design after having created it.

Microsoft Outlook

Outlook is an incredibly powerful e-mail program that allows you to manage your e-mail from your desktop computer, tablet, cell phone, or even from the internet via the cloud. Microsoft Outlook has matured since it was first released in as an MS-DOS application in 1992. Today it is used by over 50,000 companies world-wide and of these companies, the average ranges anywhere between 50-200 employees.

Microsoft Publisher

Publisher is a desktop publishing program that allows you to create professionally designed calendars, flyers, postcards, posters, newsletters, cards, certificates, and much more. Microsoft Publisher is “Wizard” driven, so that you can apply any one of hundreds of “templates” to the project at hand, and can then modify the layout design to your liking.

Note that Microsoft Publisher is only available for the PC, not the Mac and there are no mobile versions available.

Microsoft Access

Microsoft Access is a relational database that shares the same familiar look and feel of other Microsoft Office products. It consists of tables, relationships, queries, forms, reports, macros and modules. Everything you need out of a relational database. Microsoft Access is Wizard driven, and once you have answered all of the questions it asks, it will then automatically create a relational database for you. You can then edit it afterwards, should you need to. It is incredibly powerful, and deceptively simple to create a databases.

Note, like Publisher, Microsoft Access is only available for the PC, not the Mac and there are no mobile versions available.

Microsoft Office for Home also offers the following Services:

Microsoft OneDrive

OneDrive is cloud-storage where you can save all of your images, files and documents. When stored in the cloud, they are accessible from any device, be it a desktop computer, (PC or Mac), tablet (Android or IOS), and even cell phone, Android or IOS). You can even access your files from any device connected to the internet. OneDrive even allows for two or more people to collaborate on a given document at the same time, and OneDrive will save all the changes in real-time.

Microsoft Skype

Skype is a communications tool that will allow you to either speak, type or see the person that you are “Skyping” with. With Skype, one can talk and see someone on the other side of the planet in real-time at little to no cost, as it used VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol), to communicate. Basically, it uses the internet to communicate.

There are three ways in which you can obtain Microsoft Office for Home. These are Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal, Office Home and Student 2019. The first and second solution is subscription based, and the third option allows you to purchase the Office suite outright, however, the third option only comes with the core applications, namely, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Below you will find a screenshot from Microsoft’s website,

As you can see from the image above, Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal offer the exact same software applications and services. The difference between the two is that Office 365 Home allows up to 6 people in your household to utilize these applications and services.

You can use Microsoft Office on the PC, Mac, IOS, Android, even from your browser.

Regardless of which of these solutions you choose, it is important to note that you can use them on a PC, Mac, Android Tablet, iPad, Android phone, or an iPhone. Additionally, with your subscription, (annual or monthly), you can use Microsoft Office on as many devices as you wish, and each person get’s 1 Terabyte of cloud storage to use! Thanks to OneDrive, your data follows you, and is not specific to the devices you use.

As mentioned earlier, the Office Home & Student 2019 version of Microsoft Office only includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Because it’s a one-time purchase, it does not come with any upgrades or updates. Additionally, you can only use it on a PC or Mac, but not both. The license only allows for use on one computer, (PC or Mac).

Of the three available Office for Home solutions, I think that the Office Home & Student 2019 is the least attractive for multiple reasons. To begin, you only get three of the Office products, and you can’t save any of your files to the cloud using OneDrive. Additionally, it would take 21 months of using the Office 365 Personal edition to equate the $149.99 you would have paid for the Office Home & Student 2019 version. It just does not seem worth it to me, unless you don’t need (or would not use), Outlook, Publisher, or Access, and live in a place where you don’t have internet access.

The pricing model offered by Microsoft is for Microsoft excellent.

If you are looking to purchase a Microsoft Office subscription for yourself, you will want Office 365 Personal. At an annual price of only $69.99 (or $6.99 / month), that’s a great deal. If you purchase the annual subscription, you will save $13.89. But at $6.99, that’s a visit and a half to Starbucks. Not bad. Not bad at all.

If you need to purchase a Microsoft Office subscription for your family, (more than one user), you will want to take advantage of either the annual subscription or monthly subscription to Office 365 Home.

For only $99.99 a year, or for a monthly subscription of $9.99, every member of your family can access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher and Access, not to mention Skype and OneDrive. With the annual subscription, you’ll save $19.89 over the monthly subscription.

If I may, let me over-simplify just how great a deal Office 365 Home is for a family. If you had 6 people in your family, if each of them were to purchase the Office 365 Personal subscription, as the head of your family, you would be paying $59.94 per month! $9.99 for 6 up to people is just outstanding.

Microsoft Office For Business

What is Microsoft Office for Business and what does it include? Microsoft Office for Business is a suite of Office applications designed specifically for Business use. At the start, you’ll notice that it includes everything that the Home version includes, (with the exception of Microsoft Publisher). It also includes OneDrive, the service that allows users the ability to archive images, files and documents to the cloud. In addition to that, the Office for Business version adds the following services.

Microsoft Exchange

Exchange Server is a mail and calendar server that runs exclusively on Windows Server operating systems. It is an extremely powerful application that allows for the creation and management of all company mailboxes and calendars for every single employee within a company.

Microsoft Sharepoint

Microsoft Sharepoint is a collaboration platform that allows for the sharing of documents and files within a company. You can set departments up within Sharepoint so that documents and files can only be shared within a given department. Additionally, can search for documents or words within documents, so that it can serve as “Google like” search environment within a company. It is a very powerful tool if set up correctly.

Microsoft Teams

It has been said that Microsoft Teams is Skype on Steroids. Not only can you communicate via chat, voice, or video calls to individuals, but with Microsoft Teams, you can hold live streaming video conferences and share files with other “Teams” members.

There are three ways in which you can obtain Microsoft Office for Business. These are Office 365 Business, Office 365 Business Premium, Office 365 Business Essentials. You’ll note that each solution offered is subscription based. Below you will find a screenshot from Microsoft’s website, Let’s take a brief look at its offerings.

Microsoft Office for Business has three distinct offerings, one of which is sure to meet the needs of any business regardless of it’s size.

Office 365 Business

The Office 365 Business package allows for each user in the business to have their own desktop version of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access (PC only). This is the perfect solution for business that needs a desktop version of the Microsoft Office on a PC, Mac or mobile device (or all three).

The only caveat is that business e-mail, (Microsoft Exchange), is not included in this package. But you do get OneDrive with this package, so all of your company documents will be encrypted safely in the cloud. Generally speaking, this is a great solution for smaller businesses.

This would be good for the business that has more than 6 employees, and do not need Skype or Teams, then this is probably a great package for your business. If however, your Business requires additional features, you will want to consider the Office 365 Business Premium package.

With the Office 365 Business package, if you choose to pay annually, the cost per employee comes out to $8.25 per month. However, if you choose to pay monthly, Microsoft will charge you $10 per employee per month, with no annual commitment.

Office 365 Business Premium

This package is the “Grand-Daddy” of all business Office solutions, and has proven successful in very large companies worldwide.

This package offers a scalable solution for large businesses that are growing and require services such as Microsoft Teams to video conference, Microsoft Exchange to manage every employee’s mailbox and calendar, and Microsoft Sharepoint to manage documentation throughout the company.

With the Office 365 Business Premium package, if you choose to pay annually, the cost per employee comes out to $12.50 per month. If however, you choose to pay monthly, Microsoft will charge you $15 per employee per month, with no annual commitment.

Office 365 Business Essentials

This package is a great solution for companies do not require any of the office products such as Outlook, Word, Excel, access, or PowerPoint, but do require an email solution and other services such as exchange, Sharepoint, OneDrive, Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams.

With the Office 365 Business Essentials package, if you choose to pay annually, the cost per employee comes out to $5.00 per month. However, if you choose to pay monthly, Microsoft will charge you $6.00 per employee per month, with no annual commitment.

In a Word, What is the Difference Between Microsoft Office for Home and Microsoft Office for Business

So far, we have shown the differences between Microsoft Office for Home vs Microsoft Office for Business by showing what each offers so far as the software that is included in each, and the subscription plans that each offers, but other than that, what is the difference?

Microsoft has built a business model that works for everyone.

In a word, scalability .

If you are single and need Microsoft Office, Microsoft has a solution specifically designed for you. If you are the head of the household and need the members of your family to be able to use Microsoft Office, Microsoft has a solution for you as well. If you are a student headed off to college, Microsoft even has a solution for you.

If you are a small business just starting out, Microsoft has a solution for you. If you are a medium to large business, Microsoft has a scalable solution for you as well.


If there ever was a question as to the reliability, dependability and product integrity of Microsoft Office, understand that Microsoft Office 365 now has over 120 million business users. If it were not immature product that was both reliable and dependable, you would not see anywhere near these numbers.

Microsoft Office has grown from a suite of products to delivering both products and services for both home use and business use. This is suite of Office products and services will continue to grow with the needs of both home users and business users alike.

What Other Free Office Solutions Are Available?
Currently, there are several Office solutions available on the market right now, such as Libre Office but most notably is the suite of software tools by Google. The G-Suite offers Google Docs, Sheets, Drive, Keep, Calendar, Forms, and Slides.

Does Microsoft Offer A Free Trial?
Microsoft offers a free 30 day trial of Microsoft Office which includes Word, Excel, Access, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher. When the trial ends, you will be able to read the documents but you won’t be able to edit them without purchasing a license.

What Is Product Activation?
Microsoft requires that you activate Microsoft Office to make sure that your installation is a genuine Microsoft product. Product activation ensured that it is a valid copy, and not an illegal pirated copy. Upon product activation, no personal information is sent to Microsoft.

Tim Chesonis

Tim has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Tim, click here.