Published 04th June 2020 by | Cloud Computing, Software

Office 365 is now Microsoft 365. So what is it?

Office 365 has been renamed Microsoft 365, comprising the well-known and widely used applications Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.

Having finally ditched the Office 365 name in April 2020, the firm has since indicated that the new Microsoft 365 branding will apply for all new sales. While many of the features of Microsoft 365 are not wholly new, the move by Microsoft isn’t just a change of name for the sake if it.

It cements Microsoft’s vision of the future of secure collaborative working, with productivity at its core and agile ‘work anywhere, anytime, with anyone’ philosophy. In this article we’ve boiled down Microsoft 365 down to its essentials in order to provide an overview of exactly what you get.

What is Microsoft 365?

In essence, Microsoft 365 provides organisations with:

  • Productivity tools: The key emphasis for Microsoft 365 is productivity and collaboration across organisations, so it’s no surprise that security and communication tools feature heavily alongside the productivity tools.
  • Subscription only licensing: Microsoft 365 is available only either as a monthly or annual subscription, meaning that the old perpetual license which allowed buyers to keep their old applications running via regular updates is no longer available. (Note: Alliance Solutions offer annual licenses on a quarterly subscription basis to assist clients budget for their services).
  • Storage and communication: The new solution, as well as comprising the original Office applications – or apps – now also comes with cloud-based file storage and email storage as well as communication tools based in the cloud.
  • Agile working: Because subscriptions are user-based rather than device-based, the Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook apps can be installed on up to five iOS and Android phones and tablets, and five PCs or Macs and used simultaneously on those devices. Mobile apps are also available for OneDrive and Teams.

The upshot is that Microsoft sees its future firmly as enabler of secure, agile collaborative, cloud-based working for distributed teams working across different and multiple workplaces and time zones.

Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise

Microsoft may have changed the name of Office 365, but its familiar naming conventions remain. The two main editions for business are Microsoft 365 Business and Enterprise. It’s still the case that a huge range of options includes apps, licensing, services and versions or editions make for a potentially bewildering task when it comes to defining exactly what your organisation requires.

Among the key name changes are the following:

  • Office 365 Business Essentials is now Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Office 365 Business Premium becomes Microsoft 365 Business Standard.
  • Microsoft 365 Business is now Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus are now Microsoft 365 Apps.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Business Premium plans include services for small and medium-sized businesses whereas Enterprise plans include Yammer and a range of business automation tools. The online subscription-based Microsoft 365 app suite includes feature updates across the whole suite, usually on a 6-monthly cycle to tie in with updates to Windows 10, as well as monthly security updates.

What’s available in Microsoft 365?

The essential components of Microsoft 365 are as follows:

Microsoft Teams

One of the key features offered by Microsoft 365 – and which has been heavily promoted during the COVID-19 pandemic – is the Teams service. This bundle of collaborative tools combines unified communications, messaging and, importantly, video conferencing. It replaces Skype for Business.

Exchange Online Business Class Email

Businesses using Microsoft 365 receive a generous 50 GB mailbox via Exchange Online for each suMicrosoft 365 Teamsbscribed user. Email is accessed via the desktop cross-platform Outlook app, via mobile device or simply via a browser.

OneDrive For Business File Storage

With OneDrive For Business, each subscribed user receives 1TB of personal storage. Data can be synced via different desktop platforms, and personal data can be kept separate to business data. Data storage allowance can be upgraded if required.

SharePoint Online Filesharing

Teams needing collaborative access to the same files can share and sync files via File Explorer in Microsoft 365 using the same client as OneDrive, which users will find has a much less unwieldy interface. Administration controls can be put in place to constrain users from sharing confidential information outside the organisation.


As might be expected (and mentioned above) specifying and licensing Microsoft 365 is still complex. Subscriptions are user-based, so Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook apps can be installed on up to five iOS and Android phones and tablets, as well as on five PCs or Macs and used simultaneously on those devices.

Although reflecting the new Microsoft 365 brand, products retain the same naming convention and are aimed at specific types of business based on size and feature requirements.

Next steps

Ask Alliance Solutions for more information about evolving and upgrading your Office 365 solutions to Microsoft 365 on 0800 292 2100.

We can carry out a complete license review across your organisation to establish which elements need updating, as well as advising how the new Microsoft 365 tools can be deployed across your organisation to benefit your working practices.

Email us at or call on 0800 292 2100.

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