Microsoft Office Vs. Microsoft Works

By Laura Gittins

A man uses a Microsoft Surface tablet computer at a promotional event
i Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Microsoft Office and Microsoft Works are both office suite packages that offer several types of applications, including word processors, spreadsheet programs and a database management tool. Works was initially marketed as a cheaper, lite version of Office, but with the introduction of Microsoft Office Starter 2010, Works was discounted. Works is still available on several home and office computers and is supported on the Microsoft website.


Works actually predates Office, having an initial release in 1988, with modules for word processing, spreadsheets, databases and telecommunications. It was initially planned for release on the Macintosh. Nine stable versions of Works were released, with the latest becoming available in 2007 as a free, ad-supported package. Some of the various applications in Office, including Word and Excel, were developed and released years prior, but the Office suite itself first became available as a bundled package in 1990. Many versions of Office are still within Microsoft`s support lifecycle, with Office 2003 receiving extended support into 2014.


Microsoft Office has several distinct programs, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, Visio and Sharepoint. The suite is available in dozens of languages and versions are compatible on both PCs and Macs. Works, on the other hand, offers a limited set of applications. Its programs include Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Database, Calendar, Portfolio and Task Launcher, many of which are scaled-down versions of programs featured in Office.


Office is a leading collection of desktop applications. When you upload documents to the Web, you may notice that you're permitted to upload only files with the DOC or DOCX extension, both of which are industry standards created in Microsoft Word. Some other applications are also popular choices for the services they provide, including Excel, PowerPoint and, Outlook. Some offices that didn't need the wide variety of applications available in Office may have opted for the Works suite instead, which was also a cheaper package, and still use it due to its simpler interface.


If you're debating whether you want Office or Works on your machine, the choice may have already been made for you. Microsoft discontinued development on Works in 2010, although it still has several help and how-to documents in the Microsoft support site as the software is still in use. Microsoft also offers a program you can install that takes documents you created in Works and converts them for Office. Meanwhile, new features, components and fixes for Office are constantly in development.