Microsoft has been moving toward a subscription-based model in recent years in order to make incremental changes rather than big changes to file types that posed all sorts of difficulties for Excel users. Right now there is not much difference between Excel 365 and the new 2019 version in terms of functionality, rather it just involves a different licensing agreement.
The Difference Between an Excel Perpetual and a Subscription-Based License.
Excel 365 is the subscription-based version of Excel and Excel 2019 is the perpetual, stand-alone, bought-outright version. A perpetual license has always been made available by Microsoft for outright purchase and outright ownership. The user will not receive any updates until the next version of the software is released. Understandably this has caused users to become impatient when they find out about new features included in a newer model.
Subscription-based Office 365 is designed to regularly release updates which means that changes are gradual and users have time to get used to the changes. Organizations are able to choose their update channel on the subscription model to occur monthly or semi-annually.
While Excel 2019 licenses are available for purchase, Microsoft strongly recommends organizations and individual users to use the subscription option. To support this preference Microsoft announced in 2017 that users using Office 2016 on a perpetual license will not be able to connect to their cloud-based services after 2020. It is expected that the 2019 version will have similar limitations and it seems likely that this will be the last version that will be offered on a perpetual license.
What’s New in Excel 2019 and Excel 365 Subscription Version?
The following features have been introduced in the new Excel 2019 version which is already available to those with an Office 365 subscription:
Visuals such as bullet charts, speedometers, and word clouds previously available only in Power B1.
Full SVG Graphics
The new version will have full SVG graphics support. In addition, the Excel application features 500 built-in icons which look great on infographics and dashboards.
Expanded Insights Feature
By clicking on a table with data and selecting ‘Insights’ from the Insert tab, several charts on the right-hand side of the page gives insight into the data. This is rather handy as a data analysis tool.
Excel Connection to Flow
Excel’s connects to Flow that allows the creation of automated workflows to collect data automatically or to synchronize data sources. This is a particularly useful feature for models that need constant updating such as currency exchange rates or stock prices.
Excel Connection to Forms
Excel connects to Forms which means a form user interface that is very easy to use and can be shared through a link.
New Functions such a SWITCH, IFS, MAXIFS, MINIFS, and TEXTJOIN.
Map and Funnel Charts
Map charts allow data to be displayed on a map using provinces, states, countries, and even zip and postcodes. Numbers can be color-coded or displayed as a heat map.
Power Query Data Cleansing New Features
New features include parameters, conditional columns, and new transformations.
When a file is stored on OneDrive or Sharepoint users can edit simultaneously using the co-authoring feature.
Default Behavior for Pivot Tables
For those who regularly change their preferences for Pivot Tables, a default behavior can now be assigned.
Online Data Types
The first two online data types supported are Stocks and Geography with more promised to come. Using the all-new A1-powered Online Data Types feature, a cell containing a country or region value, for example, can extract more details such as capital city, area, population, etc.
Note that to use these tools you have to have either Excel 365 or Excel 2019 as the formula will not work if opened in a non-compatible version which may undermine the functionality of the model unless viewed online.