Business, in all its various forms, has always been, and will always be, a competitive endeavor. Successful business ventures will often look to establish an advantage or some type of edge on the rest of the market. One way to accomplish this task is with superior, or at the very least, less expensive IT infrastructure.
With Microsoft 365 businesses can deploy a complete productivity suite for the entire operation without the usual piecemeal integration of disparate systems and applications. By mixing Windows 10, Office 365, and the Enterprise Mobility and Security package, Microsoft offers a turnkey collaboration and productivity suite that can be implemented quickly and at a low cost, which is just what a business seeking an edge needs.
This cheat sheet about Microsoft 365 covers what you need to know about the suite. We'll update the guide periodically as new information about the product is released.
SEE: Software usage policy (Tech Pro Research)
- What is Microsoft 365? Microsoft 365 combines Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility and Security authentication into one turnkey solution.
- Why does Microsoft 365 matter? With Microsoft 365, SMBs can deploy a mobile, collaborative work environment that is both productive and secure without incurring overwhelming costs, potentially providing a competitive advantage.
- Who does Microsoft 365 affect? SMBs looking to establish a secure, collaborative working environment integrated with mobile devices and a dispersed workforce will benefit from the integrated solution provided by Microsoft 365.
- When was Microsoft 365 released? Microsoft 365 Enterprise is available now. Microsoft 365 Business is available for preview.
- How can I get Microsoft 365? Microsoft 365 Enterprise is available now and can be acquired by contacting a Microsoft Partner or a sales representative. You can sign up for the preview of Microsoft 365 Business.
What is Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 is a turnkey suite of integrated collaboration and productivity applications designed to be deployed all at once to save time and resources. SMBs can use Microsoft 365 to deploy IT infrastructure that incorporates desktop and mobile devices, and the security and authentication systems required to keep data safe in a mobile workforce environment.
Microsoft 365 combines features and toolsets from the Windows 10 operating system, the Office 365 productivity suite, and the Enterprise Mobility and Security package, which establishes authentication and security protocols for employees and systems to protect data and infiltration by outside influences.
SEE: Microsoft Office 365: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
There are two versions of Microsoft 365: Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise. Microsoft 365 Business is designed for SMBs that are looking to deploy an integrated, collaborative work environment but do not have the IT personnel or infrastructure in place to manage it. The Business version will work best with SMBs that do not use an Active Directory domain controller.
Microsoft 365 Enterprise is designed for larger businesses that will integrate the various parts of the suite with already established IT infrastructure. The Enterprise version will work best for enterprises looking to integrate a collaborative working environment with legacy systems.
Comparative features: Office 365 Business Premium and Microsoft 365 Business
- Microsoft 365: A secure, collaborative environment for SMBs (TechRepublic)
- Use new security features in Microsoft Office 365 to raise your Secure Score (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft wraps cloud subscription services into new Microsoft 365 bundles (ZDNet)
- The Hidden Costs of Microsoft Office 365 Security and Compliance (Proofpoint white paper/TechRepublic Resource Library)
Why does Microsoft 365 matter?
For SMBs, developing and maintaining a sophisticated and secure mobile workforce environment typically requires resources beyond what they can muster on a continuing basis. With Microsoft 365, these smaller businesses can now deploy a mobile, collaborative work environment that is both productive and secure without incurring overwhelming costs. Microsoft 365 effectively eliminates a major hurdle associated with deploying such a working environment. A relatively inexpensive turnkey solution like this could provide the edge a small business needs to succeed in a competitive marketplace.
- Microsoft 365: New all-in-one cloud software packages for the enterprise debut at Inspire (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft adds intelligent cloud collaboration features to Office 365 (TechRepublic)
- Report: 71% of SMBs are not prepared for cybersecurity risks (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft to add three more apps to its Office 365 Business Premium cloud service (ZDNet)
- Google Apps vs. Office 365: A side-by-side analysis (TechPro Research)
- The Ultimate Productivity Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)
What are the expanded development tools in Microsoft 365?
Part of the appeal of Microsoft 365 is the built-in secure development platform where organizations can create enterprise-specific collaboration tools. In May 2018, Microsoft announced the release of eight new developer tools for Microsoft 365 subscribers. According to the company, these tools will allow developers to "create smarter ways for people to work."
The eight new developer tools for Microsoft 365 include the following.
- Expanded Microsoft Teams capabilities: Developers can create organization-specific apps for the Teams platform.
- Deeper Teams and SharePoint integration: SharePoint pages can now be pinned directly into Teams channels.
- Extended Power BI visualization in Excel: Allows custom Power BI visuals to be translated and shown in Excel worksheets.
- Updates to the Fluent Design System: The Fluent Design System has been updated to include Universal Windows Platform (UWP) XAML Islands with host controls for WinForms and the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).
- Stand-alone .NET environments: Developers will be able to build .NET apps for newer versions of the platform using .NET Core 3.0.
- Improved all-in-one containerization with MSIX: Developers will be able to containerize apps while adding managed security, enterprise management, and authenticated access to the Microsoft Store.
- Educated learning machines: Developers can build and train machine learning models in the cloud with the Windows Machine Learning platform and then deploy them locally, improving overall performance.
- Microsoft Build: 8 new tools developers need to know about in Microsoft 365 (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft Build 2018: The 3 key takeaways for business leaders (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft Office 365 will now maintain a minimum of 100 versions of your documents (TechRepublic)
- What is Microsoft 365? Microsoft's most important subscription bundle, explained (ZDNet)
Who does Microsoft 365 affect?
Any SMB looking to establish a secure, collaborative working environment that includes traditional desktop workstations integrated with mobile devices and a dispersed workforce will benefit from the integrated solution provided by Microsoft 365. By combining the operating system (Windows 10), the productivity suite (Office 365), and the authentication system (Enterprise Mobility and Security), along with support from a Microsoft Partner, SMBs can deploy Microsoft 365 quickly and inexpensively.
- Download: 10 signs that you aren't cut out to be a telecommuter (TechRepublic)
- Security awareness and training policy (Tech Pro Research)
- Step By Step Startup Business Guide: The Modern Entrepreneur (TechRepublic Academy)
Which products compete with Microsoft 365?
Competition for integrated solutions that include an operating system, a productivity suite, and a system for authentication of all devices is rather limited.
Google offers a comprehensive productivity suite with web-based authentication based on the Chrome OS and would be considered a primary competitor, although the Chrome OS limits applications to its web-based environment.
Perhaps the most significant competition for Microsoft 365 comes from Microsoft itself. Many SMBs are willing to make do with Office 365 Business Premium, Windows 10, and a mishmash of mobile devices with dubious authentication protocols. Overcoming that sort of corporate culture inertia could prove to be the most difficult competitive hurdle for Microsoft 365.
- Microsoft Teams: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- Bots give Microsoft Teams an edge on the competition—and on the future (TechRepublic)
- Google killing Chrome apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux, but it's no cause for concern (TechRepublic)
- 10 tips for getting the most out of Google's G Suite apps (TechRepublic)
How can I get Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 Enterprise is available now and can be acquired by contacting a Microsoft Partner or a sales representative. Pricing for the Enterprise version will vary depending on what is required for deployment.
Microsoft 365 Business is available for preview, and you can sign up for it on the website. No official release date has been announced yet; once it's officially released, you will be able to purchase the Business version via subscription, and it will cost $20 per person per month.
- Five Office 365 features on the horizon for 2017 (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft launches Workplace Analytics for Office 365 to boost employee productivity (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft Office 365 is suffering from the dreaded feature creep (TechRepublic)
- Box integrates with Microsoft Teams, creating hub for billions of Office files in the cloud (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft Planner for Office 365, First Take: Shaping up to be useful (ZDNet)
- Google unveils Hire, a recruiting app for SMBs using G Suite (ZDNet)
- The Microsoft Suite Pro User Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.