Office 365 provides the productivity tools required by a modern enterprise workforce. This guide covers key details, including available applications, system requirements, and subscription options.
For just about any enterprise of any size, the productivity of its modern workforce revolves around the basic office suite of email, calendar, word processor, and spreadsheet. But as the enterprise workforce has become more mobile, the basic productivity toolset has had to adapt and change to match new requirements. This is why Microsoft updated Office 365 to be a mobile collaborative platform ready to get work done wherever and whenever it happens.
Microsoft Office 365 is the de facto productivity suite for many enterprises, and it is the suite all the other competitors are measured against. So as a leader in information technology for your enterprise, it's in your best interest to know everything there is to know about Office 365. To help you achieve that goal, TechRepublic compiled the most important details and related resources on Microsoft Office 365 into this guide, which we'll periodically update as new information becomes available. (Editor's note: This article was first published in March 2016 and was last updated in May 2019.) (Note: This article about Microsoft Office 365 is available as a free PDF download.)
LEARN MORE: Office 365 Consumer pricing and features
- What is Microsoft Office 365? Microsoft Office 365 provides users with the basic productivity applications necessary to get work done in the modern enterprise. It includes applications like Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, and OneDrive, just to name a few.
- Why does Microsoft Office 365 matter? As the standard for productivity suites, competing products are generally measured against applications from the Office 365 suite.
- Who does Microsoft Office 365 affect? In the modern mobile-centric enterprise, Office 365 provides the tools used to get work done. This makes Office 365 important to just about every working individual.
- When is Microsoft Office 365 available? The latest version of Microsoft Office 365 is available right now. The current subscription includes Office 2016 applications.
- How do you get Microsoft Office 365? Enterprises can purchase a subscription to Office 365 via the Microsoft website. Subscriptions range from $8/user/month to $35/user/month.
What is Microsoft Office 365?
Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription service that provides users with the basic productivity applications necessary to get work done in the modern enterprise. Productivity applications include, but are not limited to, a word processor, a spreadsheet, an email client, a calendar, and a presentation application. In fact, because of Office 365's cloud-based structure, the suite of productivity applications is constantly being updated and improved.
As an example, a Business Premium subscription to Office 365 ($12.50 per person per month) includes these applications:
- Word: This app sets the standard for word processors and is available with Office 365 for both Business and Premium. If users in your enterprise need to create documents, this is the tool they will use.
- Excel: The spreadsheet has been the workhorse for basic data analysis since its invention back in the previous century. Excel is the current standard-bearer and comes with Office 365 for Business and Premium.
- Outlook: Office 365's solution for managing email and an appointment calendar is called Outlook. The app has been around for many years and its busy interface tends to be either loved or hated by users. It's available with both the Business and Premium subscriptions.
- PowerPoint: Communicating information to a group of individuals at a meeting often involves a presentation. Office 365's PowerPoint allows users to create, display, and disseminate information in formats ranging from the basic slide to animation to video.
- Publisher: Sometimes communicating information to a broader audience requires something more permanent and more formal than a presentation at a meeting. The Publisher app in Office 365 provides users with the tools they need to publish professional-looking newsletters, brochures, and booklets.
- OneNote: As the workforce has become more mobile, the need to capture information on the go has become increasingly important. Applications like OneNote allow users to take notes on any device and then retrieve those notes from any other device. It's your basic productivity cloud app.
- OneDrive: The other basic and fundamental cloud-based application is storage. With each Office 365 Business subscription, Microsoft provides users with up to 1 TB of cloud storage in the form of an application called OneDrive for Business.
- SharePoint: A subscription to Office 365 Business Premium also provides an enterprise with a few applications for backend infrastructure management. SharePoint, for example, can be used to host intranet websites for the enterprise. It also can be used to host smaller sites designed for smaller teams or divisions. The permissions for these sites can be designated by the users themselves or by appointed administrators.
- Exchange: Each Office 365 for Business subscription includes an Exchange Server, which handles all the email management duties. By default, each user is granted 50 GB of storage for email. Maintenance of the Exchange Server is generally handled at the administrator level.
- Microsoft Teams: Younger members of the modern enterprise workforce are very familiar and comfortable with chat applications. To satisfy the needs of those employees, Office 365 now includes Microsoft Teams, a chat-based workspace that integrates people, content, and tools into a single platform.
- Skype for Business: Video conferencing is an essential tool for a mobile enterprise workforce. With Skype for Business, enterprises can host unlimited online and video conferencing meetings with up to 250 people.
- License scope: One licensed subscription to Office 365 covers 5 phones, 5 tablets, and 5 PCs or Macs per user.
- Support: Each Office 365 subscription includes full 24/7 web and phone support.
- Collaboration tools: Along with the typical productivity applications, Office 365 includes many collaboration tools—like Delve, Yammer, and Sway. These tools allow users to communicate, brainstorm ideas, share documents, and have video meetings while on the go.
- Power BI: One of the most powerful tools any enterprise can have, regardless of size, is reliable business intelligence gathering applications. Office 365 for Business, through its Power BI application, provides enterprises with a set of tools for collecting, sorting, and presenting business intelligence data.
- Infrastructure: All Office 365 subscriptions include a reliability guarantee of 99.9% uptime. In addition, permissions for internal access control are handled by administrators designated by the enterprise using tools supplied by Active Directory. Each Office 365 subscription includes five layers of security and proactive monitoring to help safeguard your data.
- Kaizala: Mobile communications is vital to many organizations, and Kaizala adds a secure mobile messaging and workflow app that can be deployed both internally and externally. Employees, customers, and vendors can all communicate and coordinate with each other in a secure environment.
- Flow: Managing workflow in a dynamic business and across various applications can consume precious time and resources. Flow provides a simple system to manage notifications within Office 365 across all of the applications you use.
- To-Do: An update to Microsoft Office 365 has added the To-Do app to the productivity suite. No longer an afterthought piggybacking on the Calendar app, To-Do is now a feature-rich standalone application that integrates with the rest of Office 365.
- Small business support: Microsoft has updated and added new business support applications in Office 365. There are now apps to help small businesses book clients (Bookings), invoice for services and products (Invoicing), and plan and manage projects (Planner).
- PowerApps: For those situations when your organization needs a specific app to do a specific job, there is PowerApps. Using simplified development techniques, businesses can create sophisticated applications using features, procedures, and processes found in Microsoft Office 365.
- CPU: 1GHz or faster
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Hard drive: 3 GB of available space (6 GB for Mac)
- Display: 1280 X 800 screen resolution
- Operating system: PC-Windows 7, 8, or 10. Mac-Mac OS X 10.10
- Connectivity: Internet connection
- Microsoft Office 365 for business: Everything you need to know (ZDNet)
- Microsoft is making OneDrive, SharePoint Online its default save locations for Office 365 apps (ZDNet)
- Microsoft Office 365 is suffering from the dreaded feature creep (TechRepublic)
- Which apps are in Office 365? (Plus answers to other popular Google searches) (ZDNet)
- More Office 365 subscribers are starting to get Office 2016 (ZDNet)
- How to connect multiple Apple systems to Office 365 (TechRepublic)
- 10 reasons why Microsoft Office 365 rocks (TechRepublic)
- Get more must-read Microsoft tips and news (TechRepublic on Flipboard)
Why does Microsoft Office 365 matter?
Collaboration and communication are the key components of productivity in the modern enterprise, and productivity is the lifeblood of the enterprise. Microsoft Office 365 provides the tools necessary to bring collaboration and communication—and by extension, productivity—to each individual in an enterprise.
For many companies, Office 365 is the de facto standard for productivity software. The performance of all competing products is generally measured against applications from the Office 365 suite.
- Use new security features in Microsoft Office 365 to raise your Secure Score (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft to add two new Microsoft 365 security, compliance bundles to its line-up (ZDNet)
- 30 things you should never do in Microsoft Office (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft adds new cloud-based tools and machine learning features to Office apps (TechRepublic)
- Could new G Suite features entice enterprise users to switch from Office 365? (TechRepublic)
- Three reasons why you should subscribe to Office 365 (TechRepublic)
- Office 365: The time has come for Mac offices (TechRepublic)
- Google may be declaring war against Microsoft and Office 365 (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft's three new Office 365 SMB plans now open for business (ZDNet)
The primary competition for Office 365 comes from Google's G Suite, which is a set of productivity and collaboration apps, formerly referred to as Google Apps. The G Suite features the typical set of productivity applications (word processor, spreadsheet, email, calendar), as well as several tools designed to enable and enhance collaboration in a modern mobile workforce. Pricing for G Suite starts with a subscription of $5 per user per month.
SEE: Cost comparison calculator: G Suite vs. Office 365 (Tech Pro Research)
Other web-based and online productivity suites from other vendors are available—some are even offered without a monthly subscription, but those suites often lack a full set of collaboration tools and are not suitable for business enterprises.
Who does Microsoft Office 365 affect?
Just about every knowledge worker in every enterprise is required to have an email account and a calendar application. Beyond that, most individuals in an enterprise will need to use, at least once in a while, a word processor. And a significant number of individuals in an enterprise will also find themselves needing to use presentation software or a spreadsheet at some point in their career.
These are the productivity tools of any enterprise. These are the tools used to get work done. That means Office 365 is important to just about every working individual.
- Microsoft Build 2019: The biggest takeaways (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- 50 time-saving tips to speed your work in Microsoft Office (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- Video: How Zscaler is optimizing Office 365 to remove the burden from firewalls (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft acquires Intentional Software to simplify future Office 365 collaboration (TechRepublic)
- Intriguing new features in Microsoft Word 2016 for Mac (TechRepublic)
When is Microsoft Office 365 available?
Microsoft Office 365 is available right now. The current subscription includes applications updated to the Office 2016 versions. Of course, the key to the subscription model is that each user will always be using the most current and most secure version of each application because each application is continuously updated.
- Microsoft adds intelligent cloud collaboration features to Office 365 (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft updates Office 365 with six new Excel functions (TechRepublic)
- Office 2016: A roundup of the best new capabilities (TechRepublic)
- Skype for Business: New features could change how your enterprise works (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft's new Android app puts Office 365 in the keyboard (ZDNet)
How do you get Microsoft Office 365?
Enterprises with fewer than 300 users can purchase a subscription to Office 365 and download the appropriate applications via the Microsoft website. The Premium version costs $12.50 per user per month ($150/year). There are also versions of Office 365 available for individuals ($69.99/year) and households ($99.99/year).
For large enterprises, unlimited user versions of Office 365 are available, ranging from $12 per person per month to $35 per person per month. Each subscription caters to a particular type of enterprise. More expensive enterprise versions of Office 365 add features like voicemail, compliance auditing, rights management, encryption, and Advanced Threat Protection.
- 10+ things you should know before buying Office 365 (TechRepublic)
- Comparison chart: Office suites (Tech Pro Research)
- Microsoft Office has changed, how you use it should too (ZDNet)
- How to improve business communication with Microsoft's AI-powered Office 365 Editor (TechRepublic)
- Which deployment option for Microsoft Office 2016 is best for your organization? (TechRepublic)
- How to improve business communication with Microsoft's AI-powered Office 365 Editor (TechRepublic)
- How to configure Office 365 in macOS Sierra (TechRepublic)
Affiliate disclosure: TechRepublic may earn a commission from the products and services featured on this page.