Launched in 2017, Microsoft 365 began as a licensing bundle for enterprise customers combining Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS). As such, it integrated Microsoft’s productivity tools into a set of apps and services that put artificial intelligence (AI) and other cutting-edge innovations to work for business. Since launch, it’s gained millions of users globally – including many in London – such that the company calls it ‘the world’s productivity Cloud.’ Then on 30th March 2020, the company announced a Microsoft 365 rebrand to include small to medium-sized business for the first time.

Now, let’s be honest: there’s always been some confusion in the market place about the difference between Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Office 365. The best way of looking at it is to see Office 365 as simply part of what’s offered in Microsoft 365. So if you chose Microsoft 365, instead of paying for just Office 365, you’d get your operating system (Windows 10 Enterprise) and security tools (Enterprise Mobility and Security – also known as EMS) as well.

But just as you get a handle on what Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Office 365 are and offer you, the company is changing some (but not all) of the branding around the two. What’s more, Microsoft is extending the Microsoft 365 package to include family and small to medium-sized business users for the first time.

Covid-19 means you may have missed the Microsoft 365 rebrand to include small to medium-sized business

As we said, Microsoft announced the Microsoft 365 rebrand on March 30 – the same day the company unveiled its new

bundles which include consumer and small to medium-sized business subscriptions – all of which will come into effect on April 21, 2020.

However, the announcement was made just when most of us here in London and the rest of the world were occupied with concerns about Covid-19. So if these changes passed you by in the pandemic frenzy, this blog post will quickly bring you up to speed.

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Clarifying the changes to Microsoft 365

In this blog post, then, we’re going to cut through the confusion and clarify the changes the company is making to the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 packages so you can see how they may impact you now and in the future. Below you’ll find out more about:

  • Why make the Microsoft 365 family bigger?
  • What’s driving the changes?
  • What plan names are changing?
  • What plan names remain the same?
  • What’s next for Microsoft 365?

Why make the Microsoft 365 family bigger?

Essentially then, some of the company’s Office 365 business plans will be getting the Microsoft 365 name.

What’s more, as part of what the company calls a ‘natural evolution’ Microsoft has also announced the Microsoft 365 Personal and Family Subscriptions, the first consumer offerings from Microsoft 365, as well as Office 365 subscriptions for small and medium-sized businesses.

This matters for small to medium-sized business customers because the new capabilities can deliver great benefits. For example, they could help you host rich meetings and events online via Microsoft Teams; provide cloud file storage and sharing capabilities so your people can collaborate from anywhere; and give you security and identity solutions to safeguard your business, IT infrastructure, data, IP and confidential information.

Note: Microsoft says there will be no change to the price of the services or what’s included in them: the same plans are available, only with updated names and all the changes will happen automatically – there’s no need for you to do anything if you’re an existing Microsoft Office 365 or Microsoft 365 customer.

What’s driving the changes?

In announcing the rebrand, Microsoft said the new names were meant to indicate that Office is more than Word, Excel and PowerPoint as it also includes new apps like Teams, Stream, Forms and Planner. In addition, even the existing core Office apps are different. They also include cutting-edge features that offer Cloud connectivity and make use of AI.

 And all of this is underpinned by a set of common services that keep your data safe and secure.

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The company also claimed the name change will help simplify things for customers so they can focus on their business. A spokesperson said, ‘This new approach to naming our products and the use of the Microsoft 365 brand is designed to help customers quickly find the plan they need – whether an enterprise, SMB or consumer plan.

What plan names are changing?

  • Office 365 Business Essentials will become Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Office 365 Business Premium will become Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business will become Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus will both become Microsoft 365 Apps. Where necessary Microsoft will use the ‘For business’ and ‘For enterprise’ labels to help you distinguish between the two.

What plan names remain the same?

Office 365 for Enterprise

• Office 365 E1

• Office 365 E3

• Office 365 E5

Office 365 for Firstline Workers

• Office 365 F1

Office 365 for Education

• Office 365 A1

• Office 365 A3

• Office 365 A5

Office 365 for Government

• Office 365 G1

• Office 365 G3

• Office 365 G5

As we’ve mentioned, the name changes do not include any pricing or feature changes at this time and there’s nothing for you to do if you already subscribe to any of these packages.

What’s next for Microsoft 365?

Microsoft claims that the above changes represent their ambition to continue to innovate – including new apps and services – for business users, including small to medium-sized business users, some of whom will be based here in London like us.

Now, if you’d like to know more about these changes or upgrading or implementing Microsoft 365, why not give us a call for a confidential, no-obligation chat? Besides being a Microsoft Partner we’re the go to IT support team for London, having earned Five Star customer service ratings from TrustPilot, Feefo and Google and a 98% client retention rate.

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COVID-19 Update: Face-to-face IT meetings have been temporarily replaced with Microsoft Teams sessions, and our engineers will be able to carry out IT assessments remotely.