Office 365: An In-depth Review By

Despite having the most famous set of Office applications, Microsoft’s cloud based Office suite took a long time to materialize. Unlike Google Drive, which has its origins nearly a decade back, Office 365 was released in 2011. While Microsoft might have been late to the party, the expansion of the cloud based suite has been quite remarkable. Office 365 now offers web based applications that no other service provider, let alone Google can match.

What is Office 365 Pros and Cons

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What is Office 365 and What Does it Offer?

Office 365 provides a comprehensive suite of Microsoft applications including; Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OneNote, Publisher, Outlook, and Skype. Furthermore, it comes coupled with OneDrive, which provides premium quality cloud storage.

Office 365 has packages for individuals, and businesses. Business users can benefit from additional products such as social networking services, Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, etc. Since digital devices have evolved immensely over the past few years, Microsoft’s Office 365 subscriptions allow end users to use these applications on as many as 15 devices including laptops, mobile phones and tablets.

What does Office 365 offer

A Suite with Web, Desktop and Mobile Versions of Microsoft Products

While previously Office 365 was only limited to the web, it has lately begun also offering desktop and mobile versions for Office applications. For example, Office 365 Business provides web versions for Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as a single license for 5 PCs or Macs, 5 smartphones, and tablets per user.

Office 365 has over the years taken a life of its own with various associated products and add-ins, making it even more productive. A few examples include; Napa Office Development ToolsOffice 365 Threat Intelligence and various app integrations.

Office 365 Compatibility list

Difference Between Office 365 and Office 2016

Office 2016 is an application suite which provides Microsoft Office applications like PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and Outlook. Office 2016 requires a one-time purchase per computer.

Office 365 plans not only provide the desktop version of the latest Office suite (e.g. Office 2016) but also include additional services that are enabled via Internet. These include; premium versions of services like OneDrive, and Skype. With Office 365 you can get the desktop version of Office, install it on your PC, Mac, smartphone or tablet (including Android and iOS devices). Office 365 requires a subscription which can be purchased monthly or annually.

Microsoft Office 365 and Office 2016 Comparison

A Complete Introduction to Office 365

In case you’re still confused about what Office 365 is, check out this video by Microsoft which explains all about the apps and benefits of Office 365.

Office 365 Subscription Types

Office 365 has a number of editions to suit the needs of individual, business and enterprise users. Below is a brief explanation of the basic features for some of the major subscription types offered by Office 365.

Office 365 Home and Personal

Office 365 Personal: Whether you’re a freelancer or a loner who needs access to all major Office applications like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, as well as Publisher and Access (PC Only); this subscription package can be perfect for you. Additionally, this subscription also offers 1Tb OneDrive storage and 60 minutes of monthly Skype calls. Subscription to this package makes you eligible to install Office on 1 PC or Mac, 1 tablet and 1 smartphone. This subscription costs $6.99 per month.

Office 365 Home: This subscription costs around $9.99 per month and provides all major office applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote, along with (PC Only) Publisher and Access. Furthermore, the package also provides 1TB of OneDrive storage per user, 60 minutes of Skype calls, installation on up to 5 PCs or Macs, 5 tablets and 5 smartphones. This package is suitable for the whole family and can be perfect for home users with as many as five family members.

Office 365 Business

Office 365 Business Essentials: For $5 per user per month, this package offers access to essential applications like Microsoft Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, Skype for Business and Yammer. Unfortunately, this subscription type does not include desktop versions of Office applications but you can use the web version for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Office 365 Business: This package costs $8.25 per user per month with access to desktop Office 2016 applications including; Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and (PC Only) versions of Access and Publisher. It also comes with the standard 1TB OneDrive storage. A single license of this package covers 5 PCs or Mac, 5 tablets and 5 smartphones. This package is hence suitable for small businesses.

Office 365 Business Premium: This subscription basically combines features of both Office 365 Business Essentials and Office 365 Business. Not only does it offer the desktop version of Office 2016 but also services like Microsoft Exchange, OneDrive, Skype for Business, SharePoint and Yammer. The subscription costs $12.50 per user per month.

Office 365 Enterprise

Office 365 Pro Plus: This is a basic edition for enterprise users which costs $12 per user per month. The package offers desktop editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note and a PC Only edition of Access, along with 1TB OneDrive.

Office 365 Enterprise E1: With this package you only get the web version of Office apps. This subscription is more geared towards provision of services. The available services with this app include; OneDrive, Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Yammer, Stream, Flow and Power Apps. This subscription costs $8 per user per month.

Office 365 Enterprise E3: For $20 per user per month, this subscription provides combined features from Office 365 Pro Plus and Office 365 Enterprise E1. In other words, you get access to web and desktop versions of Office applications, as well as access to all major Microsoft services like OneDrive, Yammer, Exchange, SharePoint, Flow, Stream, Microsoft Teams, etc.

Office 365 Enterprise E5: For $35 per user per month, this subscription provides all the features of E3, with additional features like enhanced security, analytics, and voice capabilities. This package also comes with Power BI.

Office 365 Enterprise K1: If you’re looking for an even more advanced package, then for $4 per user per month, you can opt for K1, with a wide array of online services offered by Microsoft, Active Directory integration, task automation, Workday management and a range of other features.

Office 365 for Enterprise

Note: All Office 365 packages provide the web versions for PowerPoint, Word, Excel and Outlook. Packages might change over a period of time.

The Verdict

Office 365 provides an unmatched pool of Microsoft applications and services that users can subscribe for according to their requirements. Whether you’re a professional user, need a package for your family members, or someone running a business, Office 365 has something for everyone. While many users have criticized Microsoft for moving towards a subscription based model, the 1Tb OneDrive and Skype minutes alone make up for the meager monthly subscription costs. Not to mention SharePoint, Yammer, Exchange and other Microsoft services have their own unique value that rival products are still having a hard time matching up to. You can get started with office 365 by activating your free trial.

About Farshad

IT professional, communications specialist and Blogger!

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