What is Office 365? How is it different from Microsoft Office?
“Office 365” refers to subscription plans that include access to Office applications plus other productivity services that are enabled over the Internet (cloud services), such as Skype for Business web conferencing and Exchange Online hosted email for business, and additional online storage with OneDrive and Skype world minutes for home.
Many Office 365 plans also include the desktop version of the latest Office applications, which users can install across multiple computers and devices. The Office 365 plans that are online-only are a great choice for certain business needs, and they are compatible with desktop versions of Office 2016, Office 2013, and Office 2010.
All Office 365 plans are paid for on a subscription basis, monthly or annually.
“Microsoft Office” is the name Microsoft still uses for their familiar productivity software. Office suites have traditionally included applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. All the new Office suites (except Office Home & Student 2016, which does not include Outlook) include the latest versions of these applications. These suites can be installed on only one PC and do not come with any cloud-based services included in Office 365.
Will Office 365 work with my copy of Office?
Office 365 works with the latest three versions of Office: Office 2016, Office 2013, and Office 2010. If you use Office for Mac, Office 365 is compatible with Office for Mac 2016 and Office for Mac 2011. If you have an earlier edition of Office, you will need to update to a newer version in order to use Office 365, or you can subscribe to one of the many Office 365 plans that include the latest version of Office. In addition to getting the latest version of Office as part of your subscription, you will also get automatic updates, so your Office will always be up to date.
Is Internet access required for Office 365?
Internet access is required to install and activate all Office 365 plans and to manage your subscription account. Internet connectivity is also required to access Office 365 cloud productivity services, including email, conferencing, IT management, and other services.
Many Office 365 plans also include the desktop version of Office, for example, Office 365 Business Premium and Office 365 Enterprise E3. One of the benefits of having the desktop version of Office applications is that you can work offline and have the confidence that the next time you connect to the Internet all your work will automatically sync, so you never have to worry about your documents being up to date. Your desktop version of Office is also automatically kept up to date and upgraded when you connect to the Internet, so you always have the latest tools to help you work.
What is the cloud?
“The cloud” is a friendly way of describing web-based computing services that are hosted outside of your organization. When you use cloud-based services, your IT infrastructure resides off your property (off-premises), and is maintained by a third party (hosted), instead of residing on a server at your home or business (on-premises) that you maintain. With Office 365, for example, information storage, computation, and software are located and managed remotely on servers owned by Microsoft. Many services you use every day are a part of the cloud—everything from web-based email to mobile banking and online photo storage. Because this infrastructure is located online or “in the cloud,” you can access it virtually anywhere, from a PC, tablet, smartphone, or other device with an Internet connection.
How many users does Office 365 support?
Office 365 is highly scalable and can support everything from a one-person business to companies with tens of thousands of users:
- Office 365 Business plans are best for companies with one to 300 users.
- Office 365 Enterprise plans fit organizations ranging in size from a single employee to 50,000-plus users.
What do I need to install when I sign up for Office 365?
You don’t need to install anything in order to use Office 365.
To help you easily connect your desktop version of Office 2016, Office 2013, or Office 2010 to Office 365, Microsoft provides Office 365 customers an install-able piece of software—called “Office Desktop Setup”—at no charge.
Office Desktop Setup provides many benefits, including:
- Automatically detecting necessary updates.
- Installing updates and components upon approval or silently from a command line.
- Automatically configuring Outlook and Skype for Business for use with Microsoft Office 365.
- Uninstalling itself from the client computer after running.
You can find and install Office Desktop Setup in your Office 365 administration center.
If your plan includes a subscription to Office, you will also be able to install that directly from the Office 365 administration center.
What if I already own a domain name?
You can add the domain name you own to Office 365 to create domain-based email addresses.
Will my trial information be transferred to my Office 365 subscription?
Yes. If you purchase Office 365 licenses for the accounts you create during your free trial, the information and configuration for these users’ accounts will remain intact. Once your free trial expires, you won’t be able to continue using Office 365 for free. You will have an additional 30 days to purchase Office 365 before your account information is erased. Once your trial account information has been erased, it cannot be retrieved.
Can I switch to other Office 365 plans?
Yes. If you need to upgrade, you can transition your account to a different plan. For example, you can upgrade from an Office 365 Business plan to an Office 365 Enterprise plan.
Can I mix and match different Office 365 plans?
Yes, you can mix and match Office 365 plans. Please note that there are some license limitations at the plan level. The Office 365 Business, Business Essentials, and Business Premium plans each have a limit of 300 users, while the Enterprise plans are for an unlimited number of users. For example, you can purchase 300 Business Premium seats, 300 Business Essentials seats, and 500 Enterprise E3 seats on a single tenant.
Can I cancel my subscription at any time?
You can cancel your subscription at any time. However, depending on the product and the type of subscription you have, there may be a penalty for canceling before the end of your contract. For subscriptions with a monthly commitment payment, there is no penalty for canceling your contract at any time. Annual commitment subscriptions that are paid month to month may incur some penalties if canceled early. Annual commitment subscriptions that are paid up front do not receive a refund if canceled prior to the full contract period.
What happens to my data if I cancel my subscription?
Your data is yours. If you decide to cancel your Office 365 subscription, you can download your data—for example, your email and documents on team sites—and save it to another location. You should save your data before you cancel. After you cancel your subscription, data associated with your Office 365 account will be available to your administrator(s) in a limited function account for 90 days.