Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365: What Are the Differences?

LibreOffice vs Microsoft Office

Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365: What Are the Differences?

There’s nothing more confusing than when a company undergoes a complete and total overhaul of some of their most popular products with very little warning. This is exactly the case with Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365, which underwent a huge rebrand in 2017 without much fanfare at all. Even after all these years, people are still left with questions about Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365. What’s the difference? Let’s break down what sets these two apart in an effort to come up with some answers.

Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365: Side-By-Side Comparison:

SpecsMicrosoft 365Office 365
Product TypeGroup of productivity, collaborative, and cloud-based software and servicesSubscription SaaS platform for businesses
First ReleasedJuly 2017October 2010
Operating SystemWindows, Android, macOS, iOSWindows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Mac OS X 10.5 (and all later versions)
IncludedEverything in Office 365 plus Windows 10 Enterprise, Enterprise Mobility + Security, Windows IntuneOutlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Skype, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams
Subscription PlansMicrosoft 365 Personal, Microsoft 365 Family, Microsoft 365 Apps for business, Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise, Microsoft 365 EducationOffice 365 Personal, Office 365 Home, Office 365 Business, Office 365 ProPlus
Price$69.99 (Personal)$69.99 (Personal)

Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365: Key Differences

Now that we have a better idea of the basic specifications for Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365, let’s take a look at the most important distinctions between the two. From what each subscription service includes to the different subscription plans available to the target audience for each, these are the key differences that exist between Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365.

Infographic Microsoft 365 vs Microsoft Office

What’s Included

Firstly, let’s break down what each subscription service includes. This is probably the most obvious way to set the two apart, as Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365 do vary slightly in their offerings. At its start, Microsoft 365 included everything in the Office 365 Business Premium subscription plus everything in Windows 10 Enterprise and everything in the the Enterprise Mobility + Security suite. It later added Outlook, OneDrive, Teams, SharePoint, and beyond. In essence, it’s everything included in Office 365 plus some additional products and services thrown in.

Office 365, on the other hand, was a lot more limited in scope. Though there were numerous tiers to choose from depending on your intended usage (which we’ll get into more down below), most Office 365 subscriptions came with the same basic products and services. These included Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and numerous other Microsoft add-ons such as Skype, SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive, Outlook, and so on. If you had to pick a winner between what’s included in Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365, it’d have to be Microsoft 365.

Microsoft 365 Package
Microsoft 365 Personal (12-Month Subscription)
  • Create, organize, and do work remotely
  • Access Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more
  • Create, edit, and share files and photos
  • Access to Outlook for emails
  • Built-in ransomware detection and recovery
  • Compatible with Macs, iPads, iPhones, and Android phones,
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02/26/2024 07:52 pm GMT

Subscription Plans

Now that we know the difference in what’s included with Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365, it’s worth breaking down the different subscription plans that fall under each umbrella. The primary plans for Microsoft 365 are as follows:

  • Microsoft 365 Personal
  • Microsoft 365 Family
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for Business
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise
  • Microsoft 365 Education

Office 365, by comparison, had some very similar-sounding subscription plans to choose from. They included:

  • Office 365 Personal
  • Office 365 Home
  • Office 365 Business
  • Office 365 ProPlus

Most noticeable about these subscription plans? The fact that Microsoft 365 has far more to choose from than Office 365. All in all, Microsoft 365 has more than a dozen subscription tiers across its Private, Business, Enterprise, Education, and Firstline umbrellas. Office 365 offered merely a fraction.

Target Audience

This leads us to our third and final consideration: target audience. Who is Microsoft 365 intended for, and how does it differ from Office 365’s intended audience? As we previously mentioned, Microsoft 365 has over a dozen subscription plans geared toward five primary audiences. These include private customers, business customers, enterprise customers, education customers, and firstline customers. In other words, just about everyone under the sun has a Microsoft 365 plan geared towards them.

Office 365, by comparison, had a much smaller pool of customers targeted by its software as a service subscriptions. When it all boils down, Office 365 had two main targets: Personal subscribers and business subscribers. While Microsoft did make some distinctions underneath each of these umbrellas (as well has offer its services to educational and firstline customers), there’s no denying that Office 365 spent much more effort keeping its personal and business plans at the forefront of its mind.

The History of Microsoft 365

At the July 2017 Microsoft Inspire conference, the world-renowned tech giant had an announcement to make. Three popular Microsoft products and services would soon be coming together as one. The newly launched Windows 10 Enterprise would be combining with the Office 365 Business Premium subscription service and the Enterprise Mobility + Security suite to create Microsoft 365: a brand new enterprise subscription product for businesses of all shapes and sizes. For a time, that’s all Microsoft 365 was — a mere extension of Office 365. Not for long, however.

In March of 2020, Microsoft officially announced that all of its consumer-oriented Office 365 subscription tiers would be rebranded under a new (but familiar) name: Microsoft 365. This rebranding went into effect in April of that same year. While Microsoft surely knew the plan all along, this was the first indication to us in the general public that the existing subscription-based SaaS (software as a service) platform known as Office 365 was on its way to being phased out. Shortly after, the remainder of Microsoft’s business plans were also rebranded.

At the time, the only plans that retained the Office 365 branding were Microsoft’s subscription tiers oriented toward enterprise, educational, healthcare, and government subscribers. This didn’t last long, though. In October of 2022, just over two and a half years after the major Office 365 rebranding, these remaining tiers adopted the Microsoft 365 name as well. Between November of 2022 and January of 2023, Microsoft slowly phased out the last remaining bits of the Office 365 brand. Today, the only place you’re likely to find the Office 365 name is in legacy products.

How Office 365 Came to Be

Office 365 first originated in October of 2010. It launched as a private beta at the time, only open to a select few small businesses and organizations. It entered into its public beta phase in April of 2011, then officially went public in June of that same year. At the time, Microsoft intended the subscription-based SaaS (software as a service) platform to be exclusively for businesses. They geared the subscription service directly toward corporate customers, making sure to highlight the inclusion of such workplace productivity apps as Exchange Server and SharePoint.

When Microsoft released Office 2013 in February of — you guessed it — 2013, they took the opportunity to broaden the horizons of their Office 365 subscription-based SaaS. The tech giant added a slew of new subscription tiers to Office 365, effectively expanding far beyond just the corporate customer base. New tiers included plans for other various sized businesses alongside a brand new set of personal plans for general use. Microsoft threw in additional products and services including OneDrive, Skype, and even a one-year subscription to Xbox Live Gold.

The Office 365 subscription service saw several years of additional upgrades and updates between 2013 and 2016. During this same time, they continued to tinker with branding, as well. (For instance, they renamed their “Home Premium” Office 365 plan to simply “Home,” then added a “Personal” tier to the mix not long after.) They spent much of 2014 tweaking the amount of cloud storage available to each tier. Then, in 2017, Microsoft announced the biggest change of all: Office 365 would be combined with Windows 10 Enterprise to create Microsoft 365. (We know what came after that.)

Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365: Pros and Cons

Pros of Microsoft 365Cons of Microsoft 365
More affordable than purchasing individual applicationsLarger subscription tiers can be pretty pricy
Comes with lots of cloud storageSome plans limit access to certain products and services
Easy cross platform access to documents and filesCloud storage can leave you without access to documents and files if your internet connection goes out
Scalable for businesses of all sizesSome plans limit the number of emails you and your team can send in a day
Pros of Office 365Cons of Office 365
Subscribers always had access to the latest versions of Microsoft products and servicesNot everyone needed to subscribe to all of Office 365’s products and services
Safe and secure cloud storage accessPrices pretty high with some of the more fully loaded plans
Shared plans offered collaborative workspacesOlder devices not able to support newer versions of Microsoft products and services
Subscriptions could be canceled at any time, no contracts necessaryYou didn’t own any of the software, meaning canceled subscriptions will revoke access

Microsoft Office: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • While we think of Microsoft Office as a family of products and services, it all started with Excel. Way back in 1982, Excel — then named Multiplan — became the very first Office application. The Excel name came a few years later in 1985.
  • Excel wasn’t the only Office product to go by a different name at the start. PowerPoint was originally called Presenter upon its release in 1984. It was then rebranded as PowerPoint in 1987.
  • The very first Microsoft Office bundle was actually released for Macintosh, not Windows. It first hit macOS way back in 1989. Microsoft Office for Windows didn’t release until the following year in 1990.
  • Microsoft Office 95 was seen as the true launch of the Microsoft Office product suite. This release came with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Schedule+, Binder, and Bookshelf.
  • For the past several releases, Microsoft has settled into a three-year cycle for its Office versions. The most recent release is Microsoft Office 2021, preceded by Microsoft Office 2019, Microsoft Office 2016, and so on.

Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365: Which Is Best?

Looking at the history of Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365, it’s clear that the question isn’t so much about which is best as it is about whether or not you should subscribe to Microsoft 365. As we now know, Office 365 is essentially no more. Microsoft 365 now stands in the place where all Office 365 subscriptions used to stand. So, should you subscribe to Microsoft 365? It depends on what you need. In short, if you or your business frequently rely on the Microsoft products and services included in the subscriptions, then you really can’t go wrong with a Microsoft 365 plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) subscription from the titular tech giant. It’s available in both professional and personal plans. It includes Microsoft’s top productivity products and services such as Teams, Excel, Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and OneDrive.

What is Office 365?

Office 365 is the now-defunct predecessor to Microsoft 365. In short, this was the name for Microsoft’s cloud-based SaaS (software as a service) subscription before slowly but surely rebranding to Microsoft 365 between the years of 2020 and 2023.

Is Microsoft 365 the same as Office 365?

The long answer is that there are some nuances between the two, but the short answer is yes. Microsoft 365 serves as the replacement — or the successor — to the Office 365 subscription plan.

When was Microsoft Office first released?

Though the various components of Microsoft Office were released throughout the 1980s, the first official iteration of Microsoft Office was released for Mac in 1989 and Windows in 1990.

What's the latest version of Microsoft Office?

The latest version of Microsoft Office is Microsoft Office 2021. For the past several versions, Microsoft has released a new version every three years. As such, we can likely expect another new version in 2024.

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