As a marketer, I was wondering – why is Microsoft thrashing Office 2019?

Microsoft just released series of ads titled as ‘The Twin Challenge’, where one identical twin is using Office 365 – their subscription-based version of productivity suit while the other works with Office 2019 – the one-time purchase version.

This series of three videos show 3 pairs of twins polish their resume and send that across to recruiters in Word, fill out data in Excel and fine-tune a presentation in PowerPoint. Have a look at the ads below:

Of course, the twin with Office 365 works faster & finishes their task first. The idea is to show that Office 365 gets updated more often & offers more features than Office 2019.

While most of us would expect Microsoft trashing Google’s G-suite (or even Apple’s iWork as a payback), it’s weird to see Microsoft trashing its own product for sake of the other. But the second glance makes the reason of Microsoft doing this obvious.

Office 365 is a subscription-based product that starts around $70 (Rs 4,199 in India) a year while the Office 2019 that comes with a perpetual license (hence just one-time sale) retails at $150 (Rs 7,799 in India). Given that most users and even businesses are slow to (or they hardly) update their productivity suits to the newest versions, making more people opt for Office 365 is likely to rake more cash for Microsoft.

While for many, even the basic version of word or excel would do most times, the execution of these ads- where Microsoft brings forth Office 365’s cloud connectivity (access from anywhere, real-time co-authoring) and use of power of AI to create impact content with fewer efforts, suggests that Microsoft is going for evolved users (professionals, students) and businesses that thrive on these features.

These ads accentuates what Microsoft’s VP Jared Spataro once said, ‘though Office 2019 offers full installs of office apps, its frozen in time (it doesn’t get updated with newer features, and is not cloud connected), while Office 365 not only includes fully installed office apps, they get better over time with monthly updates and AI-powered capabilities.’ Basically, if a cloud hasn’t won you over, AI would win.

The marketing team at Microsoft has certainly done justice to the one line brief – there are people who considering Microsoft Office apps, make them prefer Office 365 over anything else.

There are over 33 Mn Office 365 subscribers at present & I won’t be surprised if the numbers swell over the next few months.