In the past two years there have been changes made to the products that Microsoft have been providing, and in many cases Office 365 and Microsoft 365 have been used interchangeably to describe a variety of services one can purchase from the software provider. Why do people do this? Why is there confusion between the two services? What are the actual differences between them?
Well to explain, we first need to understand the history of Microsoft’s subscription models.
In 2011, Microsoft launched their cloud-based software solution Office 365. This would be a software package that wasn’t locked to a single device, that would include Microsoft’s most popular core applications; the Office suite e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, as well as other Microsoft services like Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive. To this package over the years there have been other additions like SharePoint and Microsoft Team. There were a number of tiers you could purchase, depending on the package of services that you required, and they were paid for via a monthly fee.
Microsoft 365, prior to the recent changes, was a different subscription service that Microsoft offered. It combined the applications included in the Office 365 package, as well as a subscription to the Windows 10 Operating System and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite. It was essentially a beefed up version of the traditional Office 365 package for businesses and organisations that need to manage multiple mobile devices.
Changes to Microsoft products in 2020
However, since April 2020 Microsoft has rebranded the software that it offers. They have now cut down their software subscription services to simply Microsoft 365, so that all users have access to the EMS service. Because the change happened as the Covid-19 pandemic became more serious, many didn’t register the name change and still refer to Microsoft’s 365 monthly subscription services as “Office 365”. To reinforce this change, Microsoft is now specifically addressing the service as “Microsoft 365, formerly Office 365” when you look it up on Google.
But confusingly Microsoft do still offer a service called Office 365. Instead of it being a monthly subscription model that comes with all the bells and whistles of Microsoft 365 (the traditional services from Office 365+ Windows OS+ access to their Enterprise Mobility Suite), it is a paired down application with access to the core Microsoft Office programs and communication software like MS Teams. It is available for one off purchase at a sizable price. Office 365 is ideal for users who have no use for the more extensive array of applications that Microsoft offer, and would rather pay a larger fee upfront for lifetime access rather than a monthly service with extensive support; or for larger organizations that have existing Windows license agreements or have no use for them, but extensively use the traditional Microsoft programs like Word and Excel, as well as the more modern Microsoft services such as Exchange, their storage solution OneDrive and Teams for communication and working from home solutions.
If you would like to learn more about Microsoft, the software they provide, or the complex state of Microsoft licensing, you can here.