woman working with microsoft project 2021

Microsoft Project Standard 2021 & Microsoft Project Professional 2021 – Worth The Upfront Cost?

6 min. read

In your quest for the most suitable Project management software, we will recommend that you always choose the software that best fits your project needs. There are various Project management solutions on the market, but by far, Microsoft Project has been the most popular. This software is continuously being developed and is advancing throughout the years. Microsoft Project Standard 2021 and Professional 2021 are the latest versions that have been released recently. 

Project Standard and Project Professional are used as standalone desktop versions of a personal project management tool. Project schedules are created in the client/desktop, and saved as MPP files, and they can be shared with others or can update project progress as the project moves forward. Also, it is used to connect to Project Online or Project Server.

To find out which Microsoft Project is the most suitable solution for the specificities of your project, program, or portfolio, here we would like to compare these two versions: MS Project Standard and MS Project Professional. We will also discuss the differences between Microsoft Project Plans and Microsoft Desktop.

What Are Differences Between The Two Versions of Microsoft Project 2021?

Microsoft Project Standard 2021

Microsoft Project Standard is a project management solution designed to be installed on a desktop. It supports schedule development, budgeting, task management, and reporting. It has limited functionality and doesn’t support collaboration, resource management, and synchronization with Project Online and Project Server. 

MS Project Standard 2021 has the following features:

  • One complete Project desktop application
  • Simple Management of schedules and costs
  • Simple Management of tasks, reports, and company information
  • Automatically inserted start and end dates
  • Clear visualization of more complex time plans with several timelines

MS Project Standard 2021 is available for a one-time payment of $679.99.

Two businesswomen discussing microsoft project 2021

Microsoft Project Professional 2021

Similar to MS Project Standard 2021, MS Project Professional 2021 is a desktop version, but it comes with a wider range of functionalities. It supports collaboration, and resource management and synchronizes with Project Online and Project Server. When Microsoft Project Professional syncs with Project Online and/or Project Server it is also called “Project Online desktop client”. It is important not to confuse MS Project Professional with the Project Online desktop client, as they are almost identical. The only difference is that Project Online Desktop Client comes with Kanban boards.

The Professional edition includes all the features of the Standard version, plus more features like team collaboration tools and the ability to connect to Microsoft Project Server.

Microsoft Project Professional 2021 has all the functionalities from the Standard version, plus the following additional features:

  • Management of resources
  • Synchronization with Project Online and Project Server
  • Clear insight into Time recording, administration of salaries, invoices, etc.
  • LTSC (Long Term Service Channel) support
  • Compatibility with programs such as Office 2021 and Office LTSC

MS Project Professional 2021 is available for a one-time payment of $1,129.99

What Is The Difference Between MS Project Desktop And MS Project Plans?

Microsoft Project Desktop version is client software installed on your PC. You should have used Excel, and Word applications in the 2000s. The desktop version works very similarly. The application works on your PC and the files are stored on your computer. You purchase a desktop license for one time, and you can use it as long as you want. To get general software patches, you should keep your license active. However, Microsoft does not update the desktop versions with new functionality features as it does the cloud-based Project for the Web version.

MS Project Online has almost the same features as the desktop version. However, it works on the browser. All changes and saves are stored in the cloud. Plan 1, 3, and 5 are actually the naming for different pricing levels/subscriptions. Plan 1 comes with the basic features and Plan 5 has the most features respectively. To keep online access, Microsoft requires payment in monthly or annual installments. 

Colleagues in front of a laptop with microsoft project 2021

What Criteria Should I Use To Determine The Best Version For My Organization?

There is no easy way to decide which one suits your organization. The following matrix provides considerations in making a decision for your organization:

Your entry could not be saved. Please try again.
We sent links to your email! You should have received an email from us already. If you did not receive, make sure you check your spam folders and add masterofproject.com to safe senders list to receive our emails.

100% FREE PMP® Pack

Let us send you links for our Free PMP Pack. Package includes:

- PMP Question Bank
- PMP Flash Cards
- PMP Prep Book Sample PDF
- Free PMP Overview Training
- PMP Cheat Sheets & more

MS Project OnlineMS Project Desktop
Do the project managers work independently or in collaboration in your organization?In CollaborationIndependent
Does your organization use cloud or local storage of each PM to store organizational assets (repository)?CloudLocal storage
Do you plan to integrate project plans into other organizational tools (e.g. Power BI)?YesNo
Do you have project coordinator, and team leader roles in your projects who will need simple planning features such as start/end date of tasks, etc?YesNo

To have a better understanding of which suits better for your organization, please book a call with our sales rep at [email protected].


Microsoft Project Standard 2021 offers many functionalities that can facilitate the successful management of your projects. Amongst other great features is the visualization of timelines and complex schedules which is a perfect option for project managers who manage complex multi-path projects and for program managers who need clear insight into the progress of multiple projects simultaneously.

If, on the other hand, you plan to use Project Online and/or Project Server, then Microsoft Project Professional will be the right choice for you. You should also choose the professional version of Microsoft Project if you want to have an oversight of the administration of projects and/or the management of project resources.

The choice is yours, and we hope that this article will help you to make the right decision in selecting a solution that will best support your management efforts!

Read More About MS Project: