After 30 years, Microsoft has decided to fully rebrand Microsoft Office as Microsoft 365. No, the Office staples you’ve come to rely on over the years — Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint — aren’t disappearing; they will be part of Microsoft 365. The same move applies to the Office mobile apps.
While Microsoft began this transition several years ago by renaming its Office 365 subscription to Microsoft 365, this new wave of rebranding will eliminate most references to Office. The rebranding applies to all who have a subscription to Microsoft’s cloud-based service, not to those who purchased Office as a stand-alone product.
“In the coming months, Office.com, the Office mobile app, and the Office app for Windows will become the Microsoft 365 app, with a new icon, a new look, and even more features,” Microsoft said in a statement.
Changes will begin rolling out for Office.com next month. In January, changes will begin rolling out for the Office app on Windows and the Office mobile app. The changes will apply to everyone who uses the Office app for work, school or personal use. Microsoft said there will be no impact to your existing account, profile, subscription or files. The app will update automatically with a new icon and name, so don’t be surprised when you open 365 and see a new interface.
Microsoft has put most of its focus on its subscription model but it will continue to sell Office 2021 for those who aren’t ready for a cloud-based experience. However, Office 2021 is likely the last edition. Released just about a year ago, Microsoft will support this product for five years, half the usual time frame. You can expect support to stop in 2026. You can bet that the Office suite will become a security risk when it is no longer supported by Microsoft. Office Home and Student 2021 sells for $150, while Office Home and Business 2021 costs $250. This one-time purchase is for a single user on one computer.
If you are using an older version of Microsoft Office, January may be an ideal time to switch to 365 once all the new features are in place. There’s really no sense in starting with one version of 365 and then having to adapt to a new one just a few months later.
Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based productivity suite that includes Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and OneDrive. You can use 365 for free with these basic apps and a limited amount of storage, similar to Google Drive. The online versions have fewer features than the more robust desktop versions. If you opt for a paid plan, you will have both versions of the apps with all their features in all but the lowest priced plans, 1 terabyte of storage and additional apps such as Sharepoint, a file sharing platform that works great for work teams and other collaborators.
For business users, even those running a one-person show, I recommend the Microsoft 365 Business Standard at $12.50 per user per month because it includes installable versions of the main apps. This works out to $150 per year per user and can only be paid as one lump sum.
Also consider the home plans that come in two varieties: a single user plan and a family plan for up to six members. Home plans do not include some of the extra apps such as Bookings and Lists, but the offering may be sufficient for entrepreneurs and small business owners, so don’t let the name put you off. You can pay by the month or save by making a single annual payment. An individual plan is $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year if paid all at once; a family plan runs $9.99 a month and $99.99 if paid annually. The only real difference with the family plan is that it covers more users and comes with 6TB of storage. It’s a more affordable alternative to the business plan. Each 365 plan comes with a one-month free trial, so I’d try them out if you’re not sure which one is the best fit for your situation.
Leslie Meredith has been writing about technology for more than a decade. As a mom of four, value, usefulness, and online safety take priority. Have a question? Email Leslie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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