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March 13, 2022updated 20 Jan 2024 3:34am

What is Office 365?

Office 365 gives you access to a host of applications.

By James Nunns

Office 365 was the brand name for a group of software and services offered by Microsoft. The company has now changed the name to Microsoft 365.

In addition to being a brand name, Microsoft 365 is a subscription plan that includes access to Microsoft Office applications and other productivity services over the Internet.

The cloud suite of applications allows the use of Microsoft Office apps on Windows and OS X and provides storage space on Microsoft’s cloud storage service OneDrive.

Office 365
Image: Shutterstock

What is included in Office 365?

Microsoft 365 includes the traditional products in the Microsoft Office suite, such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, OneNote and Teams. Multiple packages are available, ranging from personal to enterprise.

Business-focussed Microsoft 365 subscriptions also include apps and services such as Sharepoint, Exchange, Access and Azure.

Depending on the subscription, the suite can also include as much as 1TB of cloud storage per user as well as cybersecurity protections.

Why did Office become a cloud service?

Office 365 was first announced by Microsoft in 2010 and became available to the general public in 2011.

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Facing pressure from Google Apps, Microsoft decided to bring together all its online services into an “always-up-to-date cloud service”. Included in Office 365 (now Microsoft 365) was Outlook email, which offers an email service, task management, calendar and contacts manager.

Microsoft continues to make Office available as a one-time purchase of a permanent licence. However, this only includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint and not the online features and services provided by Microsoft 365.

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