Microsoft has been pretty successful at getting people to pay for its Office suite as a service. According to the most current available numbers, Office 365–which entitles users to the latest version of all the Office apps across multiple devices–has 155 million commercial monthly active users and 33.5 million consumer subscribers. But with a grand total of 1.2 billion Office users worldwide, the subscribers are still outnumbered by folks who paid for the suite once and aren’t entitled to upgrades as part of the deal. Many of them are presumably clinging to ancient editions.
It’s obvious why Microsoft would rather you pay a monthly fee for Office than plunk down money only once and hold down onto a single version indefinitely. But now company is releasing some online ads that aim to make Office 365’s advantages over plain Office tangible. Each one involves identical twins from the Seattle area competing to perform the same tasks: one in Office 365, and one in boxed Office. In each, the twin using Office 365 speeds ahead by using cloud-powered, Office 365-only features such as the ability to auto-fill an Excel spreadsheet with data such as state names and populations.
Here are the ads–for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
The competitions were pseudo-reality at best: A Microsoft representative told me that the twins were coached on using their respective versions of the suite off-camera, and the trash talking (by the Office 365-using twins) and baffled frustration (from the Office 2019-using ones) feels a bit manufactured. And each ends with a completely staged gag such as an Office 365-using twin using the time she saved to make a smoothie. But the takeaway–Office 365 has extra features that can make you more productive–is pretty effective.
It’s been true for many years that Office’s biggest rival isn’t some other suite, but rather old versions of Office that people don’t want to give up. With these new ads, the message is that Office 365 is the best version of Office–and Microsoft is willing to show people being bogged down by Office 2019 to make its point.