May 5, 2020

Microsoft 365 & Office 365:
Once Apart, Now Coming Together


Microsoft continues to be one of the leading providers of business productivity tools worldwide, and their collections of apps, tech and devices have grown year over year.

One of their most notable productivity tool collections are Microsoft 365 and Office 365. Up until recent times, these tools have been connected but operating apart, causing much confusion about which is which and what the differences in the services are.

The Office 365 Suite

On April 21st, Microsoft rolled out several changes to both their Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites, mostly announcing a dynamic merging of the services into one. In this article, we’ll cover the major past differences between Microsoft 365 and Office 365 and look closer at how this new, all-encompassing suite of tools is benefiting businesses of all industries and sizes.

Following as a successor to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), Office 365 was launched by Microsoft in 2011. Its main offerings included modern productivity tools”such as Word, PowerPoint and Excel”that were formerly available through a subscription service. The Office 365 suite also included storage and cloud-connected apps, along with other collaborative Microsoft services such as SharePoint Online, SkyDrive (now OneDrive), Office Communicator (now Skype for Business) and Exchange Online. Recently, Office 365 had become more recognized and regarded for its compatibility with Microsoft Azure, which allowed for easy cloud management of applications and services.

“The Office suite is core to the Microsoft productivity experience, and that’s not changing. But over the last several years, our cloud productivity offering has grown well beyond what people traditionally think of as “Office.” –  Jared Spataro

Put simply, Office 365 was, and continues to be, the collection of productivity tools that are accessible to individuals, business and organizations from their range of devices. However, with the recent product name changes, what was once distinguished as Office 365 has merged into what is now regarded as the new Microsoft 365. With this merging, many more advancements to Office 365 have been added. For example, the Office apps that formerly operated well within the individual Home, Business and Enterprise categories are now seamlessly working together to provide customers with all the tools they require, with whatever project they are working on at that time.

For instance, an employee can keep track of personal goals and tasks in OneNote, while also sharing innovative ideas with their colleagues through the company’s Microsoft Teams account. This same individual can utilize Office Home tools to manage family calendars and even share pictures with their loved ones through their iCloud storage. And when they’re on the go, they can keep in contact with coworkers and team members through Yammer chat, boosting collaboration and making it easy to connect from wherever they may find themselves.

In the former version of Office, these diverse tasks would be more cumbersome to manage, and also cost the individual much more in multiple subscriptions. In this way, what was just one “Office” cubical of tools has now become a whole organization of technologies working together, optimally. Before we dive into the all-encompassing new Microsoft 365, let’s look at how the former version of Microsoft 365 began, and what changes you can expect to see in the new evolution of the productivity tools.

The Former Microsoft 365 Collection

First announced at the annual Microsoft Inspire Conference in 2017, the Microsoft 365 package began as a licensing bundle of tools – including Windows, Office and Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS) – that was primarily for enterprise customers. It has since grown into a more comprehensive suite of tools, including artificial intelligence technologies (AI) and more cloud capability for storage and accessibility.

Essentially, the Microsoft 365 bundle includes all the Office 365 serviced and apps, with the addition of two distinct products:  Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility and Security. The addition of the Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS) is what really beefs up the Microsoft 365 bundle’s security, enabling users to keep better control of company data across all devices. EMS also allows companies to protect important work files when company devices are lost or stolen by easily managing mobile access and even wiping data from personal devices if necessary.

There’s no denying the value of the previous Microsoft 365 bundle. However, many personal customers found that though they didn’t require the high security a large corporation might, they still wanted to keep their Office documents secure, and be able to utilize the more advanced AI technologies without upgrading to a more expensive subscription. This is just one of the many reasons why Microsoft””in a move towards simplicity and innovation””has chosen to combine these powerful forces into one, collective Microsoft 365 brand of productivity tools. Let’s review all the major changes from this merging.

The New Microsoft 365

The rollout of the newest evolution of Microsoft 365 included product name changes, added subscription options and even more cloud access and functionality. Former Office 365 tools have been combined with innovative Microsoft technologies to give an upgrade to their capabilities and efficiencies.

“Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are more important than ever before. But in Microsoft 365 we’re breathing new life into these apps with the help of the cloud and AI, and we’re adding new, born-in-the-cloud experiences like Teams, Stream, Forms, and Planner.” –  Jared Spataro

The changes put in place on April 21st, allowed former Office 365 subscribers to begin enjoying the new Microsoft 365 immediately. With the combined effectiveness of the former Office 365 and Microsoft 365, all Personal, Business and Enterprise solutions received a huge boost in the efficiency of their tools, plus some added new features that makes Microsoft 365 one of the most progressive collections of productivity solutions.

Enhance Your Content and Your Creators

For departments that focus on the writing, building and creation of content for the company, the new and improved Office applications help individuals get more done, while also improving their own skills.  The new AI-powered Microsoft Editor  writing service assists individuals in writing with confidence across 20+ languages, guiding the writer in producing polished content with grammar corrections, vocabulary suggestions, and sentence structure.

With this, Marketing departments than ensure the content provided through email, presentations and websites are all clearly communicated, and the individuals themselves have the tools to improve their writing going forward.

Work From Home Smoothly and Securely

As many companies are now operating online ”with employees primarily working from home” it is more important than ever that individuals can have easy access to the documents and tools they need to get the job done, wherever they are. Advanced collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams and the Office Mobile App, make it easier than ever before for coworkers to share, connect and meet online in a robust digital workplace that supports teamwork no matter where the team is working.

Additionally, Microsoft 365 provides access to all Microsoft applications, including all third-party integrated tools, simply by signing in with a single Microsoft account. And to keep these important tools and company files secure, businesses can seamlessly manage what documents can be accessed by certain employees and certain devices, adding the extra security the new Microsoft 365 is known for.

Gain Insights to Stay Innovative

One of the biggest benefits new Microsoft 365 users will find is the abundance of insights that are now accessible with the combined applications and tools. For instance, Microsoft Forms allows companies to accurately collect important customer information through polls, surveys and questionnaires. This enables organizations to quickly receive customer feedback on products or services that can help them improve their offerings and assess customer satisfaction. These insights and survey results can then be housed in the Outlook Customer Manager, which keeps all sensitive customer information secure and in one place.

Plus, the new  Workplace Analytics app  helps companies organize and unlock key patterns and valuable information from this customer data, helping them to build detailed customer personas, create targeted products and even improve employee experience. All these applications work together, without needing multiple sign-in’s, subscriptions, or devices, making the new Microsoft 365 as agile and advanced as it is simple and secure.

“Microsoft 365 brings together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. It delivers a complete, intelligent, and secure solution to empower people” –  Yusuf Mehdi  , Corporate Vice President, Modern Life, Search & Devices at Microsoft

The changes that went into effect on April 21st have simplified how Office 365 and Microsoft 365 will be regarded in the future. Knowing now how these two productivity toolboxes came to be one, it is projected that even more individuals will look into integrate these technologies to help manage their companies and their homes. You can find up-to-date information about the Microsoft 365 tools, upgrades and changes on the dedicated page,  here.