On April 21, 2020, Microsoft officially made the switch on its office suite lineup from Office 365 to Microsoft 365. Most Office users will be immediately familiar with the software suite. Incorporating household names like Word, Excel and PPT, Microsoft 365 encompasses a full suite of software for both personal and enterprise use. While some of the software can be used free, Microsoft 365 is generally regarded as a paid subscription with varying prices depending on use. Keep reading to learn more about how Microsoft and Office 365 differ as well as what you get for your money.
What’s in a Name?
It’s totally fair to think the new naming convention is confusing. Realistically, the name is a lot less important than whether or not Microsoft 365 meets your needs. That said, Office 365 was generally regarded as a cloud-based suite of apps and services centered around business productivity needs. It included familiar apps like Word, PowerPoint and Excel as well as other notable apps like Skype for Business, Yammer, OneDrive, Teams, Planner and more. Office 365 was a subscription-based service that had plans for individuals all the way up to enterprise-level pricing.
On the other hand, Microsoft 365 is regarded as an all-in-one bundle that includes everything about Office 365 plus intelligent cloud services along with world-class security. There are three varieties of Microsoft 365: Home, Business and Enterprise, and it is available for both Windows and macOS users.
There is no question that for the uninformed user, this is all very confusing. If you were already paying for Office 365 before April 21st, 2020, you already have Microsoft 365. When Microsoft 365 did launch, Microsoft did unveil a host of new features that were automatically included for all users. This includes new tools for writing on the Web, managing finances and a new way to connect with family and friends.
What’s New in Microsoft 365?
When you purchase a Microsoft 365 subscription, you get a number of tools and software:
- Access (PC Only)
- Publisher (PC Only)
- OneDrive (1TB)
- Skype (60 minutes for calling mobile phones and landlines)
- Compatibility on PC, macOS, Android and iOS
- Advanced security features to protect from malware and phishing attacks
So what is new between the two services other than the name? For one, Microsoft Editor is now included for all Microsoft 365 subscribers. Microsoft’s answer to Grammarly, this AI-powered service is available in more than twenty languages. Accessible in Word, Outlook.com and browser extensions in Edge and Chrome, Editor has a variety of capabilities.
Standard services like spelling and basic grammar are checked by Editor as are more advanced grammar and style refinements to write more clearly and concisely. For students and teachers there is also a plagiarism-check to ensure all written content is original. Outlook users also benefit from Editor by making sure emails don’t go out to your bosses riddled with spelling errors.
Are you a frequent PowerPoint presenter? Microsoft 365 adds an AI which helps coach anyone giving a presentation. This feature double-checks in real time to make sure you are not talking too fast, saying “umm” too much or just reading from your slides. You will also receive grammar suggestions to improve your speech.
Managing money is always an important tool, and Microsoft’s new solution to manage, track and analyze your money is incredibly handy. “Money in Excel” enables you to link bank and credit card accounts directly to Excel, download transaction details and import them into a budget or financial spreadsheet.
“Microsoft Family Safety” is yet another new addition with the release of Microsoft 365. This new service is an excellent tool for parents who want to manage family screen time across any software where Microsoft services are available. This includes Windows 10, Android and Xbox. Family members receive location-sharing notifications so you can see where family members are on a map. Parents can also receive a notification when a child arrives at work or school.
What About Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is something of an anomaly in the Microsoft 365 space. Business users of Microsoft 365 receive Teams as part of their subscription. Home users are stuck on Skype with their family, personal or student subscriptions. However, in light of the COVID19 pandemic, Microsoft took the smart step in late June and made Teams available for personal use to help stay in contact with friends and family.
For personal use, Teams includes the basics like video calling, text chat, uploading and sharing files and documents as well as a calendar. Enterprise subscribers will get the full suite of features as well as the ability to remove the 300-user cap. It also ups the storage cap from 1GB per user on the free account to 1TB for enterprise subscribers.
How Much Does It Cost?
For the most part, Microsoft’s release of Microsoft 365 did not stray from the pricing model of Office 365.
- Personal (one user): $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year
- Family (up to six users): $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year
- Student 2019: $149.99 one-time purchase
- Basic (per user): $5.00/monthly (based on annual commitment) or $6.00 monthly
- Standard (per user): $12.50/monthly (based on annual commitment) or $15.00/user monthly
- Premium (per user): $20.00/monthly (based on annual commitment) with no monthly pricing option
Overall, Office 365 and Microsoft 365 don’t feel all that different. In fact, they feel practically the same save for the new features which would have likely come to Office 365 anyway. However, the name changes feel more like Microsoft is trying to appeal to more home users. It very well might be a play at Google’s increasing market share with Docs, Drive, Gmail, etc. Ultimately, the value for the money is exceptional as the company’s office suite has long set the bar for everything from schoolwork to presenting to the CEO. Do you prefer Microsoft 365 or Google Docs?