Microsoft has been marketing Office 365 very aggressively, especially in the last couple of years. But in typical Microsoft style, there are several different versions of Office 365, which actually have names but tend to fall into the general bucket called “Office 365.”
We’ll try to sort out the basics for you. First of all, any version of Office 365 is a subscription service – you pay monthly for the right to use that version, and if you stop paying then it is no longer available to you. Contrast that with the “old” way of using Microsoft Office – you bought a license, and could use that license forever (with some exceptions) without bothering to upgrade to the newest and latest version. The upside of a subscription service is that you always have the most recent version. The downside is like any other rent vs. buy decision – in the long run buying is almost always better economically.
Secondly, all of the various Office 365 subscription services bundle various elements of Microsoft Products. For example, the cheapest option, at $5 per month, is Office 365 Business Essentials, which includes Outlook, Work, Excel and PowerPoint, but only the web version, nothing that you can use on your computer desktop. Business Essentials also includes the services of Exchange, SharePoint, MS Teams and OneDrive.
At the other end of the scale, Office 365 Enterprise E5 Edition, at $35 per user per month, provides every Microsoft Office application you could ever use (plus others you probably will never need) plus unlimited file storage and unlimited email storage, for use in the cloud and on your desktop and up to five other devices (think home PC, smart phone, tablet). E5 also includes the services of Exchange, SharePoint, MS Teams, OneDrive and Power BI Pro with advanced security, analytics and Voice capabilities.
There are eight basic versions of Microsoft Office 365, each a bit different. If you are wondering if you could or should benefit from an Office 365 subscription feel free to talk to one of our network consultants for advice. In most cases they can also save you some money on the recurring cost.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 888-523-2568.