Gone are the days that you can use Office applications as one-time purchase. Microsoft is focusing and moving towards subscription-based usage of all Office applications under Microsoft 365 package. It is also a good idea to have Office applications like Word, Excel, Outlook, etc. in one package instead of purchasing them independently. If you are already owning an one-time purchased license of Microsoft Office 2019, 2021 or earlier versions, here is how you can upgrade to the latest Microsoft 365 version.
Before Upgrading Office Version
There are different things you need to consider when upgrading your Office applications:
- If you are changing Microsoft Office account, then make sure to copy all the files stored in your old OneDrive account. You can simply go to “C:\Users\Username\OneDrive\” folder and copy the content you want to move to the new account’s OneDrive. This step helps you to retain all files that you were previously stored in another account’s OneDrive.
- Find your current product version of Office to decide upon the next action.
- Though all documents will be available after upgrade, you can always take a backup of important documents if required.
Find Current Office Version
The first step in upgrading your Office version is to find the current version you are using.
- Open any Office application like Microsoft Word or Excel.
- Click on the “File” menu and go to “Account” section.
- View under “Product Information” section to find your current version.
As you can see in the screenshot, the current Office version is Microsoft Office Home and Student 2019. In this case, upgrading to Microsoft 365 Personal or Business version needs you to purchase a new product license.
Check System Requirements
Next step before purchasing is to check whether your system supports the latest version. You can check the complete requirements for Windows and Mac in this official Microsoft page. Basically, you need to have at least 1.6 GHz processor with 4 GB RAM and Windows 8.1/10/11 OS for Windows computers.
Purchasing Microsoft 365 License
There are different ways to purchase Microsoft 365 license for upgrading from 2019 or 2021 version. The best option is to purchase it from official Microsoft website by logging in with your account.
In this way, you can simply install the apps on any PC or Mac by logging into your Microsoft account. However, you can also purchase the subscription from Mac App Store or from your smartphone and then link your Microsoft account. The purchase is generally linked to a digital license key with your Microsoft account. If you are using multiple accounts, make sure to use the correct account for purchasing the subscription. Later you need to login with the account you used for purchasing to download and install Office app.
You can install Microsoft 365 on unlimited devices, though you are allowed to login to 5 devices simultaneously. In my case, I have purchased Microsoft 365 Personal version from Mac App Store and already using it on Mac. Here, I show upgrading Office 2019 to Microsoft 365 on additional Windows laptop using the same license.
Upgrade to Microsoft Office 365
There are multiple ways to upgrade your Office 2019 / 2021 to Microsoft 365 version.
- Change license key (and switch account if needed)
- Uninstall old version and clean install from Microsoft account
The first option is ideal, however may not work on all situations. The detailed process for both options are explained in the below sections.
1. Changing License Key of Office 2019 / 2021
When you are in the product information section under “File > Account” section, click on the “Change License” button. You will see an option to continue with your current account or switch to a new account. Make sure to use the correct account that you have used for purchasing the product. Continuing to the next screen will show the available Office products under your account. Select Microsoft 365 option and click “Next” button.
Microsoft will automatically validate and show you a “Product Activated” message. However, you need to continue using old Office 2019 version and the Microsoft 365 version will be updated for you in the background later.
If you want to update the product immediately, then click on the “Update Now” button. Your old version will be automatically removed and updated with the latest version. Remember, you should restart the computer for the changes to take effect and then you see Microsoft 365 version opens.
2. Download and Install Microsoft Office 365 from Your Account
This process has four steps to successfully install the latest version.
2.1. Sign Out from Your Account
Open any of the Office apps and go to “File > Account” section. Click on “Sign out” option and logout of your account. This is required especially when you are switching account to different one.
2.2. Uninstall Old 2019 / 2021 Version
Next, press “Win + I” to open Windows Settings app. Go to “Apps > Apps & features” section and click on the three vertical dots showing against Office app. You will see two options – Modify and Uninstall, select “Uninstall” option to delete the existing Office 2019 / 2021 version from your computer.
Click “Uninstall” button to start the removing process. You will see the bar like below while the uninstallation is in progress.
After successful removal, you will see a success message saying “Done uninstalling” like below.
You do not need to worry about the existing files, they will be still available on your computer after uninstallation. Only thing is that you will not be able to open them until you install the newer Microsoft 365 version.
2.3. Download and Install Microsoft 365
- Go to office.com and make sure to sign in with your correct Microsoft account used for purchase. Click on “Install Office” button showing on the header image next to “My Account” link.
- Alternatively, login to Microsoft.com website and click on “Manage Microsoft 365 Personal”.
- Click on “Install” link below “Install apps” section in the header area.
- This will open the installation wizard pop-up and first you need to confirm the installation language for downloading the file. Though you can change the Office language version later after installation, it is different from your Windows operating system’s display language.
- If you want to change the language, click on “Other Options” link. Choose your language and a version for installation. Microsoft will select the default version automatically, however, you can change it to 32-bit or 64-bit version as per your need. It is also possible to download the offline installer to use without internet connection. In my case, I will use the default version with English and continue the online installation process by clicking on the “Install” button.
- It will download an installer file to your computer. Remember, this is a small online installer file compared to the complete offline installer which will be bigger file including both 32-bit and 64-bit Office apps.
- After finishing the download, open the file to launch the Office installation.
- The installer will start downloading all Office apps from Microsoft server which may take long time depending upon your internet connection’s speed.
- Make sure you have closed all open Office apps, otherwise you will get a prompt to close them before continuing the installation process. After successful installation, you will see a message indicating the installation of Microsoft 365 is finished.
2.4. Check Your Version Again
Now, open Word or Excel, and go to “File > Account” tab. You should see the product information as “Subscription Product Microsoft 365”.
If you still see Office 2019 or 2021, click on the “Change License” button showing below the “Product Information” section. You will see a message showing Microsoft 365 version available for installation under your account. As mentioned, I was already using the license on Mac. Hence, it shows using 2 out of 5 installs, otherwise, it should show 1 out of 5 installs and click “Next” to proceed further.
You will see a confirmation message that Office has been updated. Close the message and all open Office apps.
Relaunch Word or Excel again and check that now you have the latest Microsoft 365 subscription version.
Though Microsoft claims no need to uninstall the previous version, I do not see it works like that. You can simply logout of your account from Office apps and uninstall the app from your computer. Login to your account in Microsoft website to download the latest Microsoft 365 and install on your computer. You can use the app simultaneously on 5 computers to get maximum out of the subscription.