Microsoft is running bizarre commercials that seem to trash its own Microsoft Office 2019 suite

Screenshot/MicrosoftMicrosoft’s ‘Twin Challenge’ ads pit Office 365 against Office 2019.
  • Microsoft is running a new series of ads, called “The Twin Challenge,” which pits the Office 365 subscription productivity suite against the more traditional Office 2019.
  • The idea is to show that while the names are the same, Office 365 gets updated more often and offers more features than Office 2019.
  • It furthers the idea that Microsoft’s main competition with Office 365 isn’t Google’s G Suite, but rather, older versions of its Office software.
  • Still, it’s bizarre to see Microsoft trash its own products like this.

It’s no secret that Microsoft really, really (really) likes Office 365, the subscription-based version of its flagship productivity suite – not least because it makes a boatload of cash for the company.

But now, Microsoft has chosen an unusual tactic to promote it: It’s running a serious of bizarre commercials that seem to trash Office 2019, the traditional one-time-purchase version of the software suite, in favour of Office 365.

No joke, Microsoft has started to run a series of ads, called “The Twin Challenge,” where one identical twin is set up with a copy of Office 365, and the other with Office 2019. The twin with Office 365, naturally, works faster and finishes their task first, while the Office 2019 user lags behind.

The consumer version of Microsoft Office 365 starts at $US100/year, and has 33.3 million consumer subscribers. The cheapest version of Office 2019 starts at $US150 for a one-time purchase. While that might make Office 365 seem like a better deal on the face of it, people are slow to shell out to update their Microsoft Office suite to the newest version – meaning that over the lifetime of a user’s subscription, Office 365 is likely to rake in more cash for Microsoft.

The basic upshot is that Office 365 gets more features, faster, than the boxed version of Office 2019. Office 365 also incorporates AI-powered assistance, like a nifty automatic PowerPoint slide designer, that the traditional version lacks.

“Office 2019 also delivers full installs of the Office apps we know and love-but they’re “frozen in time.” They don’t ever get updated with new features, and they’re not cloud-connected,” writes Microsoft Corporate VP Jared Spataro in a blog post.

Still, it’s really weird to see Microsoft pit two of its products against each other like this. As Fast Company’s Harry McCracken notes, however, it’s also a good sign that Microsoft’s biggest competitor with Office 365 isn’t Google’s G Suite, but rather, older versions of its own software. It is, perhaps, a good problem to have.

Watch the ads here:

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