Most CTOs and heads of enterprise technology groan when colleagues ask if Office can be upgraded. Why make the costly effort of overhauling an existing application suite? Even if it seems less stressful to pass over the opportunity to upgrade Office, you should still take a look at what Microsoft Office 2019 is going to offer.

So what is Office 2019?

Microsoft Office 2019 will be the successor to Office 2016 and is being released as a new application suite for those corporate customers not quite ready for the cloud. Microsoft's General Manager for Office is pitching some new features such as inking, new formulas and charts, and visual animations for presentations, yet we still await a proper Office 2019 preview. However, it is expected that previews will become available in mid-2018.

What’s new is that there is no Microsoft Office beta from now on. You will need to decide on purchase straight away. With an Office 2019 release date set for the second half of 2018, how can you decide if Microsoft Office 2019 is the application suite your business needs?

Read next: Common Microsoft Office productivity fails and how to avoid them

How much will it cost?

Existing versions of Office include both subscription-based payments and one-time payments.

As at March 2018, Office 365 Enterprise has annual payments ranging from $96 per user per year for E1 to $420 per user per year for E5. An additional add on called ProPlus will set you back an additional $96 per user per year. It should also be noted that enterprises only have access to annual payments subscriptions.

Office Professional 2016, however, will set you back $399 per user as a one-time payment.

How much will Microsoft Office 2019 for enterprises cost? The problem is - we do not know yet. But here's what we do know - it will be a one-time payment, just like Office 2016. Here is a general benchmark for deciding on the price - we believe it should cost a similar amount as the standalone Office 2016 or $399 per user as a one-time payment. Any price significantly over this will mean you’ll need to consider the benefits more closely.

An enterprise which does not need a wide range of features can do with Office 365 E1 alone for $96 per year. However, if Office 2019 does cost $399 per user or below, it may be worth it, as Microsoft plans to withdraw support for Office 2016.

Will I receive updates regularly?

Both Office 2016 and Office 365 receive security updates on a monthly basis (usually on the second Tuesday of each month). Non-security bugs are fixed every month for the first 5 years after release. However, feature-wise, Office 2016 is the final version that you pay for while Office 365 receives new features and functionality on a bi-annual basis.

The same applies to Ms Office 2019 as Ms Office 2016. Once you buy it, it’s the final version. Office 2019 changes will be bug-related only. If features and functionality are more important to you, it may be wise to stay with Office 365 if you already have it as you pay the same price for an increasingly superior product. However, if you are a cost-sensitive customer, Office 2016 is preferable (if you already have it). But if you want a balance of the two, perhaps upgrading to Microsoft Office 2019 may be the best option for you.

Can it function with cloud based services?

All the applications connected with Office online can connect to Exchange, OneDrive, and Skype for Business. However, Office 365 is allowed to connect to those cloud-based services forever, while Office 2016 can only connect to them in the first five years after purchase.

MS Office 2019 also only has five years of cloud connectivity.

Reason? Microsoft has explicitly said it recommends corporate customers use Office 365 and to be on the subscription model. If long-term functioning with cloud-based services is a high priority for you, then Microsoft Office 2019 may not be the best option.

That being said, do keep in mind that Templafy will support Office to bring custom company document templates and digital assets right to where people work with documents, presentations and emails, and that this service is easily centrally governed. One cloud based service to which you won't lose access!

See out how Templafy integrates with Microsoft Office to help your enterprise create compliant, on-brand and up-to-date documents, presentations and emails:

Will I receive technical support?

Yes, but not forever. Microsoft will support both Office 2016 and Microsoft Office 2019 for five years only. Microsoft is clear about why it will do so. Essentially, it is aiming to retire the one time purchase model completely at some point in the future and move completely to the Office 365 subscription model. And at that point of time, the subscription model will only work with Windows 10.

In short, you need to ask yourself – within the next five years, is it really a pressing priority for the organization to have a regularly updated, subscription-based application suite as well as Windows 10? And can it do with an existing Office 2016 suite? If the answer to both questions is no, then Ms Office 2019 may be ideal for your enterprise.

Whether you choose to stick with Office 2016 or Office 365 or try out Microsoft’s latest Office 2019 when it becomes available, Templafy will integrate to keep your custom company templates and digital assets easily accessible and up-to-date.