Cloud-delivered applications and services have been around for a few years now, however recent improvements in internet speed and data security and storage have seen a dramatic increase in the popularity and uptake of cloud-delivered computing – both on the home front and in business.
Microsoft entered the cloud space some years ago with an earlier cloud version of Office called the Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) which, in 2011, was repackaged and released as Office 365. Since then, Microsoft has invested heavily in promoting Office 365 and this has seen a dramatic uptake in both the home user market and the business sector.
So what exactly is Office 365 and how will this change the way we work and communicate with others?
Here are a few common questions answered:
What is Office 365?
Put simply, Office 365 is the name given to a new way of paying for, accessing and using popular software and services from Microsoft. This includes the Microsoft Office suite of applications – Excel, Word and PowerPoint – and a range of other applications and services including email, cloud storage space and collaboration tools.
Why use Office 365?
Instead of purchasing a licensed copy of the software every few years for several hundred dollars, you can get the latest version of Office applications delivered to you via a web browser on any device from as little as $9 per month, depending on the plan you choose.
For business, the pay as you go model has proved very attractive as it removes much of the cost of IT infrastructure maintenance and enables agility, as businesses can quickly upscale as needed.
Can I use Office 365 on a mobile device?
Yes. The subscription model provides access to a range of applications and services hosted online by Microsoft. You can access these from any device that can access the internet including:
You can now travel anywhere in the world and have easy access to photos, documents and software without having to carry all that excess baggage!
Is there a subscription plan for my needs?
Yes. There are various Office 365 subscription plans available for different users:
- Personal and University Plans
- Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business Plans
What applications do you get for your subscription?
With the Home, Personal and University Plans, you receive Smartphone access, OneDrive storage, and monthly Skype credit along with the following Office 2013 installs:
- Five PC/Mac installs
- Five tablet installs.
- One PC/Mac install
- One tablet install.
- Two PC/Mac installs
- Two tablet installs.
With the Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business Plans you receive the following:
- OneDrive for business
- Business class email
- Online conferencing
- Public website
- File storage and sharing
- Office online
- Desktop versions of Office applications
Can I use the same version of Word as I have on my desktop or is it a cut down version?
An Office 365 subscription allows you to download full versions of the applications to your computer and a few other devices you use regularly, as well as access the online versions when working away. All you need is an internet connection and your login details.
When working on your usual device, you can open and work with documents using the full version of Word and when working away using a shared computer for example, you just log in and use the online version. While the online versions do not have all the functionality of the full desktop versions, they are still pretty good and offer most of the usual functionality for editing, formatting and working with documents.
What else do I get with an Office 365 subscription?
- OneNote – A note-taking and personal information management application for collecting, organising and sharing digital notes.
- Delve – A smart view of all the news, documents and interactions that are most important to you as you work, based on an algorithm which captures your usage patterns. It does this by searching your emails, meetings, contacts, social networks, and corporate documents stored in Office 365 and using this to show you the things you need to see.
- Video – Office 365 Video is an intranet website portal where colleagues can post and view videos. It's a streaming video service for your organisation that's available with SharePoint Online in Office 365.
- OneDrive – You can keep all your files and photos in OneDrive then access and share them from anywhere on a phone, tablet or computer. The Business plans provide OneDrive for Business, which allows workers a shared cloud storage space for collaborating on work.
- Sites – A tool for sharing documents and other collaboration with colleagues – often referred to as a team site. You can upload documents to a site to share with anyone who is a member of your site.
- Skype for Business (Lync) – A tool for instant messaging, voice calls and video conferencing within Microsoft’s cloud productivity suite.
What happens when new versions or updates of the apps are released?
Improvements to the Office applications will continue to be released in increments. As long as your subscription is active, you will always be working with the latest versions without paying any extra.
Will there be a new MS Office desktop version out soon to replace 2013, or do we all have to switch to the cloud for updates?
Microsoft has said that it will continue to develop and release full versions of the Office applications every few years in the traditional license model alongside Office 365. The next release, Office 2016, is due out later in 2015.
Where can I get up to speed with Office 365?
I’m glad you asked! My colleagues and I can help you out. MCI Solutions run one-day Office 365 introductory courses in Sydney and Melbourne, or we can come to your office to train your whole team. Just call 1300 768 550 for details.