Every business owner or manager responsible for office productivity and workflow is looking for tools to help them streamline their operations. And Microsoft produces one of the best packages available in the industry in the form of its Office suite, based around those familiar solutions — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Office 365 was Microsoft’s subscription-based cloud offering featuring all those applications and some additional features, but it’s now been surpassed by a new package — Microsoft 365. So, if you’re confused or want to find out about these solutions to see if they’d make a good fit, here’s all you need to know.

Introduction to the Products

Microsoft Office is still available as a one-time purchase for anyone who wants access to the apps mentioned above. But there are many reasons to consider Microsoft 365, which is structured as a monthly subscription plan but comes with several perks that you won’t get with Office as a stand-alone product.

Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365

Why did the company change the package name from Office 365 to Microsoft 365? Apparently, this was a branding decision and designed to differentiate the subscription service from the traditional Office packages. Clearly, Microsoft thought Office was too similar to Office 365 and may be showing confusion in prospects’ minds. Now, the new naming convention reflects the company’s strategy of providing a single complete productivity platform for all its customers.

Are There Any Differences?

Apart from the name, there are certain differences, although there are no wholesale changes. Microsoft 365 will still contain the same applications and subscription options that Office 365 offered before. However, the company does offer some new subscription plans, detailed below, which should meet the needs of any business.

How Does Office 2019/2021 Compare with Microsoft 365?

If you’ve been used to using Office 2019 or 2021, you’ll want to know how these products compare with Microsoft 365.

Firstly, it’s important to remember that the basic Office 2019 or Office 2021 products are stand-alone versions that you simply purchase once and own for life. Also, the note-taking app OneNote was bundled into Office 2021 with the messaging app Teams.

However, Office 2019 will only run on Windows 10 and macOS and is not automatically updated. This means that if you want access to the newest version, you must purchase Office again when the company releases an upgrade. Still, some smaller companies may only need access to the basic apps on one device with the more “traditional” user experience.

By contrast, Microsoft 365 will be automatically updated whenever needed and will have the most up-to-date and modern productivity tools with the latest core features. You can also access certain other web-based services or apps like Stream and Sway. In addition, Microsoft offers a variety of subscription plans to cater to businesses, enterprises, educational establishments, and nonprofits.

Access as much cloud storage space as you like through OneDrive. When you subscribe at the entry level, you will get up to 1 TB of free storage, which equates to more than 300,000 images or over 1 million documents. And with a single subscription, you can use these apps on PCs, Macs, or tablets, whether you use Windows, iPad, or Android. You can also subscribe monthly or annually and open Microsoft 365 on up to 5 different devices.

What’s the Difference Between Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Standard, and Premium?

There is a range of Microsoft 365 plans for businesses of all sizes, from Basic up to Enterprise E5.

Plans for Small and Medium Businesses

For small and medium businesses or those organizations with up to 300 users, consider the following:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic. This includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Teams, and all the familiar Office Apps — Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard. This package will include all the features of Business Basic but also comes with security features like Microsoft Identity Manager and Advanced Threat Protection.
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium. This is an upgrade on Business Standard and has device management tools like Windows Autopilot and Intune.

Plans for Frontline Workers

Microsoft realizes that some staff members will often work directly with customers or the general public on their tablets or phones and need to be as productive as possible. So, Microsoft 365 has two separate plans for these frontline workers:

  • Microsoft 365 F1 includes all the features found in Microsoft 365 Business Basic but also has task management and shift management tools like Kaizala and StaffHub.
  • Microsoft 365 F3 is an upgrade on F1. It’s got advanced security and compliance tools, with Azure Information Protection and Advanced Threat Protection.

As with the business plans, the frontline worker plans are meant for companies with up to 300 users.

Plans at the Enterprise Level

At the enterprise level, you can find two plans for organizations with unlimited users. However, for some reason, Microsoft has decided to retain the Office designator when describing the available plans.

  • Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise. This is the enterprise edition of all the office apps, with cloud-based file storage and sharing. However, it does not include access to business email.
  • Office 365 E1. E1 builds on the above package and includes business services like email, file storage and sharing, meetings, and IM. In addition, it allows access to Office on the web but does not include Office apps.
  • Office 365 E3. E3 uses Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise and Office 365 E1 as a base and then adds advanced security and compliance tools — Windows Hello for Business, Azure Information Protection, and Advanced Threat Protection.
  • Office 365 E5. E5 upgrades the E3 plan by adding reporting, analytics, and compliance tools like Cloud App and Power BI Pro.

Learn More about Microsoft 365 and Look Into Implementation

If you’d like to explore your options and get help from an experienced IT company that provides professional and managed IT services, get in touch with Softlanding. We are a Microsoft solutions partner and only deploy or implement Microsoft solutions from Azure to Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Teams.

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Softlanding is a long-established IT services provider of transformation, professional services and managed IT services that helps organizations boost innovation and drive business value. We are a multi-award-winning Microsoft Gold Partner with 13 Gold Competencies and we use our experience and expertise to be a trusted advisor to our clients. Headquartered in Vancouver, BC, we have staff and offices in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary to serve clients across Canada.

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