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Microsoft Visio Version Comparison

If you’re tired of dealing with data in theoretical and table formats and seek a way to present it visually through diagrams for better understanding and decision-making, Microsoft Visio is the perfect solution.

Microsoft Visio stands out as a premium and advanced application used by individuals and various organizations to create professional and technical diagrams. It enables the seamless construction of flowcharts, networking diagrams, floor plans, pie charts, engineering designs, and more. Creating diagrams is just one facet of Visio; it covers a range of features that are discussed in these articles. Primarily, the guide covers a feature comparison of all Visio versions, aiding in understanding the differences among various Microsoft Visio versions.

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What is Visio?

Microsoft Visio holds a crucial role within the Microsoft 365 suite. The inception of Visio dates back to the introduction of its first version, Visio 1.0, by Shapewear Corporation. Microsoft later acquired these products, incorporating them into their suite.

In essence, Microsoft Visio is an application or software empowering users to present their data or information in a more imaginative manner. This involves the creation of diagrams, flow charts, and graphical presentations for enhanced visualizations and comprehension. The conventional and less effective method of presenting data in tables and theory often results in a loss of reader interest. Visio addresses this by offering advanced features, including the creation of flowchart diagrams, network diagrams, professional charts, and engineering drawings like floor plans.

Visio comes in various versions and packages, each offering distinct capabilities ranging from basic to professional plans. Additionally, the tool has adeptly extended its reach to cover all platforms, including Visio for the web and desktop applications of Visio.

The Difference in Visio Versions  2019  vs Visio 2016 vs 2013

The Microsoft Visio tool is crafted for generating technical diagrams, flow charts, corporate-level management charts, and other engineering drawings. These functionalities showcase the tool’s versatility. Microsoft, as a company, remains committed to advancing its applications through ongoing research and updates. Since its debut in the software market, Visio has undergone continuous evolution. Over the years, newer and more beneficial features have been incorporated into various versions of the Visio tool.

Each version introduces notable features and enhancements. In this discussion, we delve into the comparisons and distinctions among all Visio versions spanning from 2013 to 2021, encompassing Visio 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2021.

1. Visio 2013

  • Enhanced and User-Friendly Interface: Similar to other popular Microsoft tools, Visio has incorporated the well-received Metro design in its latest update. This ensures a more user-friendly interface for improved handling and visualization compared to the previous version.
  • Inclusion of Ribbon Toolbar: Notably, the Visio 2013 version has introduced the Ribbon toolbar, providing effortless access to features and enhancing the overall user experience.
  • Support for New File Formats: The 2013 version of Visio introduces a new file format with the (.vsdx) extension. This enables file-saving in a more efficient manner, reducing file size and ensuring seamless compatibility.
  • Author Assignment and Commenting Feature: A significant addition to this version is the ability to assign authors and a commenting feature. This allows users to share diagrams with team members, enabling collaborative work where everyone can simultaneously contribute and leave comments regarding the changes they make.
  • Introduction to Multiple Business Rules and Market Standards: Visio 2013 brings a novel concept by introducing multiple business rules and market standards. While the predecessor version already had some predefined business rules, Visio 2013 takes a step further by incorporating notation and a business modeling process structure. Additionally, users now have the flexibility to establish custom validation rules for their diagrams.

2. Visio 2016

After a three-year hiatus since the release of Visio 2013, Visio unveiled its subsequent version in 2016, incorporating numerous new features and enhancements to elevate the functionality of the tool.

The notable additions are detailed below:

  • Information Rights Management: Introduced in the 2016 Visio version, this protocol ensures the security of your diagrams or information by adhering to information rights management protocols.
  • One-Tap Data Connectivity and Linking: The primary feature of this version is the convenient one-tap connectivity with various data sources. Visio allows easy connections to Sharepoint, SQL database, and Excel with minimal effort. Furthermore, it facilitates the linking of diagrams with data through a simple tap.
  • Addition of New Shapes and Templates: The Visio 2016 version introduces the latest shapes and styles, enabling users to create more intricate diagrams effortlessly.
  • Starter Diagram: The Starter Diagram is especially beneficial for guiding users at the beginning, helping them swiftly initiate diagram creation or tasks.
  • Implementation of Enhanced Features: Advanced features, including a streamlined print review, tips for beginners to enhance zooming capabilities, and the introduction of page breaks, are all accessible in the Visio 2016 version.

3. Visio 2019

After the improvement in the 2016 Visio version, The next version launched in 2019. The updated or new features are mentioned below:

  • Enhanced stencils and Extra Shapes: Visio 2019 introduces new stencils, which are collections of various shapes. These enable users to craft diverse diagrams according to their needs, offering additional options for customization and styling.
  • Improved UML: In Visio 2019, the UML feature has been upgraded to version 2.5. This includes a new tool for drawing UML diagrams, enhancing the diagramming capabilities.
  • Offers notation for Database: Notably, this version now supports the creation of notation diagrams, incorporating the Crows foot and Chen’s notation for the convenience of users.
  • Integration with Azure: In addition to the existing templates, Visio 2019 introduces the latest Azure templates. These templates are designed to illustrate cloud architecture diagrams, enhancing the integration with Azure services.
  • Wireframe Interface: The Wireframe Interface is a valuable tool for designing websites and mobile applications. These templates facilitate the creation of design sketches, providing a clearer and more easily understandable representation for users. This ensures that readers grasp ideas quickly and effortlessly.

Latest version Visio 2021 Features

The most recent version of Microsoft Visio currently available in the market is Visio 2021. We’ve traced Visio’s development from 2013 to 2021, witnessing its significant evolution and enhancement. The tool has adapted and improved, offering numerous advanced and useful features. These advancements aim to simplify the user experience, enabling the creation of hassle-free diagrams in just a few steps.

However, Visio 2021 stands out as a game-changing update in the market due to its advanced features. Let’s explore the characteristics of this latest version.

  • Data Visualization: One standout feature is Data Visualization, specifically Dynamic Data Visualization. Upon closer examination of its features, it becomes evident that generating diagrams is now a one-tap process. This feature enables users to automatically draw diagrams from various data sources, such as Excel, Exchange, and other Microsoft data tools. Visio 2021 incorporates various built-in templates and shapes; users can simply select them, and Visio will take care of the rest.
  • Power Automation and Integration: The standout feature of Visio 2021 was the powerful automation of diagrams. What does this mean? It implies that these features empower users to transform their Visio Diagram processes into dynamic automation for specific actions or key points in the workflow. In simpler terms, users can define different points or flows in the diagram, and if a particular event triggers, a specific action is executed according to user customization. For example, if you are designing the flow of employees and tasks in your office, notifications can be sent to the manager and team leader when an employee is absent or completes a specific assigned task.
  • AWS and Azure Integration for Modern Templates and Stencils: Visio 2021 introduced various enhanced and advanced templates and shapes for drawing diverse diagrams. Notably, Azure and AWS architecture templates and flowcharts stand out in this version. In addition to these, UML templates, templates for crime scene investigation, and numerous other templates are part of these updates.
  • Improve Connectivity: In the previous edition, users encountered connectivity issues when working collaboratively, along with delays in accessing collaborative features. Microsoft has made significant improvements in these areas with their Visio 2021 version.
  • Collective Work: Not only that, but these new versions also enhance and provide seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook and Teams. This means a larger number of individuals can now collaborate on a single diagram simultaneously. They can easily share these diagrams with other Teams through an access management system. This system allows for commenting, setting views, and editing based on team member designations. All these functionalities are now possible in the Visio 2021 version, ensuring a more streamlined and efficient collaborative experience.

Features of Visio 2021 in professional

The Microsoft Visio Professional Plan is an upgraded version of the Standard plan. It naturally includes all the features found in the Standard plan. Furthermore, it incorporates advanced features that go beyond the standard offering. Any limitations present in the Standard plan are addressed and overcome in the Visio Professional plan.

Some of the enhanced features in the Professional plan include collaborative working capabilities, task automation, and templates specifically designed for UML, web, network, and server architecture.

For a clearer understanding, we provide a detailed list of the additional features of the Professional plan below:

  • As implied by its name, the Professional plan facilitates the creation of sophisticated diagrams using user-friendly built-in templates and shapes.
  • This plan includes an extensive library containing predefined templates and shapes adhering to industry standards like BPMN 2.0 and UML 2.5. By satisfying these standards and validating your diagram, users can craft more refined professional diagrams or flowcharts.
  • A crucial element of the Professional Plan is the Data Visualizer. Through these advanced features, users can effortlessly generate diagrams from selected data sources based on their application. In simpler terms, Visio Professional promptly generates a preview diagram using your data. All that’s required is choosing the appropriate template and various shapes.
  • In addition, you have the option to connect the diagram to a live database or data source. This allows for the dynamic design of the diagram, and you can retrieve the diagram in real-time, utilizing all the capabilities of Visio Professional.
  • Advanced Automation is a noteworthy feature in professional planning. It enables the automation of actions for specific events. When such events occur, predefined actions are executed. For example, you can receive email notifications whenever your team members reach their set goals. This ensures a high level of monitoring and tracking for diagrams.

Features of Visio 2021 in Standard

If you’re seeking basic diagram functionality without the need for real-time data updates, choosing the Visio standard plan is an ideal solution. It saves your valuable money compared to a professional plan with advanced features that may not align with your actual needs.

Here, we outline the key features of Visio Standard, allowing you to compare both editions and select the one that best fits your requirements.

  • The basic edition possesses the ability to create both simple and intricate diagrams using a variety of pre-built templates and shapes.
  • The user-friendly interface closely resembles that of Microsoft Office. This familiarity enables users to easily comprehend and take advantage of the functionalities offered by Visio Standard.
  • It follows information rights and management protocols, ensuring the prevention of any potential data breaches.
  • Live preview features permit users to see a visual representation of their diagram, providing a clear understanding of the final result upon completion. This enhances user comprehension and interaction.
  • Enhanced features in the standard edition include the capability to edit and commit changes to a shared file with others. Consequently, you can collaboratively work with any person of your choosing and monitor their progress or alterations in the diagram.
  • It’s important to note that this edition lacks support for technical diagrams such as UML, Wireframe interfaces, and server architecture networking diagrams. In brief, professional and technical templates are not encompassed in this edition.

Should I Upgrade from Visio Standard to Professional?

Deciding to upgrade from the standard to the professional edition is a crucial choice, as both plans have their distinctive features. However, our response to these inquiries will be impartial. Opting for the professional or standard plan, or transitioning from standard to professional, essentially hinges on the user’s needs, the number of individuals intending to use these tools, and the frequency of their usage. Examining these factors will provide clarity on whether or not to upgrade.

Upon careful consideration of these aspects, it must be noted that if you are an individual user or collaborating with a team, the standard plan may not meet your requirements. This is because the standard plan lacks collective and collaborative features. In contrast, the professional plan offers advanced features such as sharing diagrams with editing and commenting access, and the ability to add validation to diagrams. All these features are available exclusively in the professional plan.

If you’re aiming for real-time data connectivity, process management aligned with industrial standards, and more, Visio Standard might not be the ideal choice for you. The Professional Edition, on the other hand, caters to these fundamental needs by providing diverse connectivity options compatible with various data sources, including Excel, SharePoint, MySQL Server, Azure, and more. It ensures real-time monitoring of your diagrams.

Moreover, the Professional Edition supports libraries and adheres to benchmark market standards. These standards, like UML 2.5, AutoCAD, and IEEE, can be applied and validated in your diagrams. Additionally, this version empowers you to create and personalize design stencils and shapes. You can share these customizations and gain access to extensive libraries of built-in templates.

If the mentioned features align with your daily requirements and Visio is your primary tool, upgrading to the Professional Edition is a worthwhile consideration.

Microsoft Visio Version Comparison – FAQs

1. Is Visio 2021 compatible with Office 365?

Ans: Yes, Visio 2021 and Office 365 can work together seamlessly, but only if both applications meet the specified requirements. It is generally recommended to install both programs using Click-to-Run technology. This ensures that you won’t encounter any compatibility issues when using both applications on the same device.

2. Can I install Visio 2016 with Office 2021?

Ans: No, it’s not the best approach. Visio 2016 and Office 2021 might not smoothly work together on one device due to version differences. It’s advised to avoid potential compatibility problems by using both applications on the same version. Alternatively, consider upgrading the older version tool.

3. Is Microsoft Visio free?

Ans: No, Microsoft Visio is not available for free; it requires a one-time payment for a service or plan. Yet, if you wish to familiarize yourself with the tool, there is an option to utilize the Microsoft Visio Free one-month trial. This trial allows you to assess the tool before committing to a paid Visio subscription.

4. Why use Visio instead of PowerPoint?

Ans: Various reasons demonstrate that Visio is an ideal solution for creating, editing, and formatting diverse technical diagrams, flow charts, pie charts, network diagrams, process flow diagrams, and more. In contrast, PowerPoint lacks such advanced features. Additionally, Visio supports linking data sources, real-time monitoring of diagrams, and integration with powerful automation and exporting features, which are not present in PowerPoint.

5. What is Visio best for?

Ans: Visio is an application developed by Microsoft that possesses the capability to generate technical and professional diagrams. It offers a superior and more efficient means of conveying and illustrating data. Visio provides support for a diverse array of built-in, user-friendly templates designed for crafting flowcharts, network diagrams, engineering drawings, and process management diagrams. Notably, Visio comes equipped with advanced functionalities such as exporting, automation, and real-time monitoring of diagrams, making it a comprehensive tool for various diagrammatic needs.

6. What do people use Microsoft Visio for?

Ans: People and groups commonly utilize Visio for producing polished diagrams, networking representations, flowcharts, and various engineering diagrams. This tool enables users to observe live data through diagrams and flowcharts for process management. In addition to these collaborative functionalities, automation and a variety of pre-designed templates are standout features of Visio.

7. Do you get Visio with the office?

Ans: No, Visio is not included in the regular office package. It is a standalone application that you must purchase separately from the store. Alternatively, users can choose it as part of the Microsoft 365 plans.

8. What is the difference between Visio Standard and Professional?

Ans: Both Visio editions are employed to craft technical diagrams and flowcharts. Nevertheless, a notable distinction lies in the fact that the professional plan provides a broader array of features and possesses greater capabilities compared to the standard plan. To describe, it includes advanced functionalities like robust automation, a diverse set of data sources and connectivity options, advanced templates, and support for industrial standards.

9. What is the best diagram software for Microsoft?

Ans: It is true that among the various applications developed by Microsoft, the most outstanding tool is Microsoft Visio. This tool stands out due to its advanced, powerful, and effective features, enabling users to easily visualize data and maximize its utility. With the assistance of built-in, user-friendly templates, individuals can effortlessly create a variety of diagrams such as flowcharts, process management diagrams, pie charts, network diagrams, and engineering designs.


The evolution of Microsoft Visio over the past 15 years has been significant. This article comprehensively covers the features of Microsoft Visio from 2009 to 2013, 2016, 2019, and 2021. All key features of each version are discussed, including distinctions between Professional and Standard editions.

The guide includes a dedicated section for users facing confusion about upgrading from the standard to the professional edition of Visio 2021. This section aims to assist users in making informed decisions based on their specific requirements and preferences.

In conclusion, we aspire to have addressed all aspects of Microsoft Visio, providing a thorough understanding of its evolution and features from its predecessor versions to the current version.

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