What is Microsoft 365? FAQ and all you need to know and

Microsoft changed the name of Office 365 (Its Software as a Service – SaaS) to Microsoft 365 recently, after tidying it a bit. This post is about Microsoft 365 and the frequently asked questions about the cloud offering.

Microsoft 365


Microsoft 365 FAQ

Microsoft 365 is the new name of Office 365. It is a cloud-based subscription service offering productivity tools from Microsoft Office and plenty of cloud space on OneDrive. It is available in different editions:

  • Personal,
  • Home,
  • Pro,
  • Business Basic
  • Business Standard
  • Business Premium
  • Apps for Business
  • E5
  • E3.

These productivity tools belong to the Microsoft Office suite. There is Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Additional apps are available based on the OS you are running and also depends on the type of subscription you got. For example, Microsoft 365 has a Publisher app for PC but not for Mac. The Publisher isn’t available for Personal edition, but it is there in the other editions.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium subscription includes these applications:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • Outlook
  • OneNote
  • OneDrive
  • PowerPoint
  • Publisher
  • SharePoint
  • Exchange
  • Teams
  • Power BI
  • Kaizala
  • Flow
  • To-Do
  • PowerApps.

Microsoft 365 also offers 1TB of cloud storage on OneDrive to each user covered by the subscription. For example, the Home Edition offers 1 TB of cloud space each to a maximum of six users it allows in the plan.

1. What is Microsoft 365 used for?

Microsoft 365 is used to create, share, and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in real-time. It allows saving work directly on the OneDrive so that you can access the latest version of files by any computer running a supported operating system.

Note that this service is different than the online version of Office Productivity Tools that can be accessed at office.com The apps include Mobile Word, Mobile Excel, Mobile PowerPoint, Mobile OneNote, OneDrive, and email solutions. They can be used simply in a browser that presents different options to work and collaborate in real-time.

Microsoft’s office apps at office.com are free to use and lack some of the best features that are available only in Microsoft 365 and Standalone Microsoft Office for desktop. For example, you can’t use headings and sub-headings in a document being created or edited in the online MS Word web app in the free version.

To understand Microsoft 365, simply think of it as MS apps available on all devices with an Internet connection and contains way more options than the online Office version available at Office.com (also known as Office web apps).

2. What is the difference between Microsoft Office and Microsoft 365?

Microsoft Office is a suite of applications that require a one-time license. It is not a cloud-based offer but is downloaded to your computer. So, you can’t access it from other computers. You can access it only from the computer on which you installed Microsoft Office. If you need a new version of Microsoft Office, you have to upgrade the apps using a new license key.

On the contrary, Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based Software as a Service offer. You can choose to pay monthly or annually. You can access your files and documents from any computer that has an Internet connection. You can edit them using desktop apps or by using web-based apps. You have the option to store files directly on the cloud even if you haven’t OneDrive installed on your computer. You can turn off saving files to OneDrive if you don’t want your files on the cloud.

3. Do I need Microsoft 365?

This depends upon your needs. The web-based apps – MS Word, MS Excel, and MS PowerPoint – should be sufficient for an average user. But there is a lack of features in Office online (the mobile apps). For example, you cannot create a “Table of Contents” using these apps. If you need all features of Microsoft Office, you can either buy a desktop version or subscribe to Microsoft 365.

With the purchase of a Microsoft 365 subscription you get to enjoy all features, you get the latest versions of Microsoft Office apps at no extra fee; and you also get one Terabyte of OneDrive. Plus, you can share the subscription among six people: each of the six people get to download the latest version of MS Office Apps: MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, etc. Each user gets one Terabyte of OneDrive where s/he can store files automatically (or manually if you so wish) and collaborate with other users in real-time.

On the other hand, if you want to pay only once and use the apps for as long as you want, you can go for the desktop package of MS Office.

4. Is Microsoft 365 free? Is Microsoft 365 or Microsoft Office better?

Microsoft 365 is not free. But it comes in different editions and priced accordingly. You can check out the cost here. Also, some editions can have a month of the free trial period. Office apps for mobiles are free to use on Android and iOS.

5. Do I have to pay for Microsoft Office 365 every year?

It depends on you. There are two payment options – monthly and annual. The annual package saves you some money as it offers some discount (up to 16%)

6. Can I buy Office 365 for a lifetime?

No. You can buy Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) for a month or for a year. It is a subscription-based service, so you have to pay it monthly or annually until you choose to cancel the subscription. There is no lifetime option.

7. Is Microsoft 365 worth it?

Yes. It saves you both time and money in the long run when compared to desktop apps from Microsoft Office. You don’t have to spend on buying the latest Office software each time it is released. You can share each subscription with others – for example, six people can share one Home edition. Each of them gets 1 Terabyte of OneDrive in addition to the office software.

8. Can I buy Microsoft Office without a subscription?

Standalone desktop Microsoft Office apps like MS Word, MS Excel, MS OneNote, etc. can be bought without any subscription. But if you are referring to the web-based service, Microsoft 365 needs a subscription. If you want to use Mobile Word, Mobile Excel, and Mobile PowerPoint, you need not pay anything.

9. Can I buy Microsoft Office permanently?

Microsoft Office is a desktop suite of apps. Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based cloud offering that is available for recurring monthly or annual charges. If you buy the desktop suite, it is permanently for you. For example, if you buy Office 2013, you can use it as long as you want. But unlike Microsoft 365, the version won’t update automatically. If you need an advanced version such as Microsoft Office 2019, you will again have to purchase the 2019 version.

10. Do I have to buy Microsoft Office every year? What happens if I don’t renew Microsoft 365?

Unless you set it to manual renewal, your card will be charged the fee for Microsoft 365 a few times, and then, you will get a notice to change the card on file. With time, you will be unable to access the apps.

11. Which version of Microsoft 365 is best?

The latest version of Microsoft Office is always the best as it is more secure and offers a better interface. Thus, it keeps changing with every release of new versions. If you don’t want to miss out on the latest features Microsoft 365 is better for you. If you don’t want to pay recurring charges and are ok with leaving out updated versions, Microsoft Office desktop is good for you. As of writing this post, the best version is Office 2019.

12. How many devices can I install Microsoft 365 Home on?

Microsoft 365 Home can be used on six devices at a time. This does not include the mobile apps (Mobile Word, Mobile Excel, Mobile PowerPoint, and OneNote) as they are free to use on mobile devices for as long as they’re available as such.

The above were frequently asked questions (FAQ) for Microsoft 365. If you have any questions unanswered, please comment. We’ll try our best to answer them.

Microsoft 365

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Alice AUSTIN is studying Cisco Systems Engineering. He has passion with both hardware and software and writes articles and reviews for many IT websites.

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