Office 365

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Office 365
Office 365.png
Initial releaseJune 28, 2011; 3 years ago (2011-06-28)
Stable release2013 / February 27, 2013; 19 months ago (2013-02-27)
TypeOnline office suite
LicenseProprietary software plus services
  (Redirected from Microsoft Office 365)
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Office 365
Office 365.png
Initial releaseJune 28, 2011; 3 years ago (2011-06-28)
Stable release2013 / February 27, 2013; 19 months ago (2013-02-27)
TypeOnline office suite
LicenseProprietary software plus services

Office 365 is a software plus services offering that provides office applications and related services to its subscribers. For consumers, the service allows the use of Microsoft Office apps on Windows and OS X, provides storage space on Microsoft's cloud storage service OneDrive, and grants 60 Skype minutes per month. For business and enterprise users, Office 365 offers plans including e-mail and social networking services through hosted versions of Exchange Server, Lync, SharePoint and Office Web Apps, integration with Yammer, as well as access to the Office software.

After a beta test which began in October 2010, Office 365 was launched on June 28, 2011[1] as a successor to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (MSBPOS), originally aimed at corporate users. With the release of Microsoft Office 2013, Office 365 was expanded to include new plans aimed at different types of businesses, along with new plans aimed at general consumers wanting to use the Office desktop software on a subscription basis—with an emphasis on the rolling release model.[2]


Office 365 retail pack

Microsoft first announced Office 365 in October 2010; beginning with a private beta with various organizations, leading into a public beta in April 2011, and reaching general availability on June 28, 2011. Facing growing competition from Google's similar service Google Apps, Microsoft designed the Office 365 platform to "[bring] together" its existing online services (such as the Business Productivity Online Suite) into "an always-up-to-date cloud service" incorporating Exchange Server (for e-mail), SharePoint (for internal social networking, collaboration, and a public web site), and Lync (for communication, VoIP, and conferencing). Plans were initially launched for small business and enterprises; the small business plan offered Exchange e-mail, SharePoint Online, Lync Online, web hosting via SharePoint, and the Office Web Apps, with the enterprise plan also adding per-user licenses for the Office 2010 Professional Plus software and 24/7 phone support.[3] Following the official launch of the service, Business Productivity Online Suite customers were given 12 months to plan and perform their migration from BPOS to the Office 365 platform.[4]

With the release of Office 2013, an updated version of the Office 365 platform was launched on February 27, 2013. The server components were updated to their respective 2013 versions, and Microsoft expanded the Office 365 service with new plans, such as Small Business Premium, Midsize Premium, and Pro Plus.[5] A new Office 365 Home Premium plan aimed at home users was also introduced; the new plan offers access to the Office 2013 suite for up to five computers, along with expanded SkyDrive (now OneDrive) storage and 60 minutes of Skype calls monthly. The plan is aimed at mainstream consumers, especially those who want to install Office on multiple computers. A University plan was also introduced, targeted towards users going to post-secondary education.[6][7] With these new offerings, Microsoft began to offer prepaid Office 365 subscriptions through retail outlets alongside the normal, non-subscription-based editions of Office 2013, which, in comparison, are only licensed for use on one computer.[8]

On March 19, 2013, Microsoft detailed its plans to provide integration with the enterprise social networking platform Yammer (which they had acquired in 2012) for Office 365: such as the ability to use a single sign-on between the two services, shared feeds and document aggregation, and the ability to entirely replace the SharePoint news feed and social functionality with Yammer.[9] The ability to provide a link to a Yammer network from an Office 365 portal was introduced in June 2013, with heavier integration (such a Yammer app for SharePoint and single sign-on) to be introduced in July 2013.[10]

On July 8, 2013, Microsoft unveiled PowerBI, a suite of business intelligence and self-serve data mining tools for Office 365, to be released later in the year. PowerBI is primarily incorporated into Excel, allowing users to use the Power Query tool to create spreadsheets and graphs using public and private data, and also perform geovisualization with Bing Maps data using the Power Map tool (previously available as a beta plug-in known as GeoFlow). Users will also be able to access and publish reports, and perform natural language queries on data.[11][12] As a limited time offer for certain markets (but notably excluding the U.S.), Microsoft also announced that those who purchase an Office 365 Home Premium or University subscription before September 28, 2013 would receive a one-year Xbox Live Gold subscription.[13]

In March 2014, Microsoft announced that it would rename the "Home Premium" plan to "Home", and add a new "Personal" plan for single users; these new options officially launched on April 15, 2014.[14][15] In June 2014, the amount of OneDrive storage offered to Office 365 subscribers was increased to 1 terabyte from 20 GB.[16]


The Office 365 service consists of a number of products and services. All of Office 365's components can be managed and configured through an online portal; users can be added manually, imported from a CSV file, or Office 365 can be set up for single sign-on with a local Active Directory using Active Directory Federation Services.[4][17]

Hosted services[edit]

Business and enterprise-oriented plans for Office 365 offer access to cloud hosted versions of Office's server platforms on a software as a service basis, including Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, and the browser-based Office Web Apps suite.[1] Through SharePoint's OneDrive for Business functionality (formally known as SharePoint MySites and SkyDrive Pro, and distinct from the consumer-oriented OneDrive service), each user also receives 7 GB of online storage.[18][19]

In lieu of Microsoft's enterprise software, the Home Premium plan for Office 365 instead includes 1 TB of OneDrive storage for each user,[16] along with 60 minutes of phone calls per month on Skype.[2]

Office applications[edit]

Some plans for Office 365 also include access to the current versions of the Office desktop applications for both Windows (Office 2013) and OS X (Office for Mac 2011) for the period of the subscription. In the case of Office 2013 on Windows, it is installed using a "Click-to-Run" system which allows users to begin using the applications almost instantaneously while files are streamed in the background. Updates to the software are installed automatically, covering both security updates and major new versions of Office. A feature known as "Office on Demand" is also available, which allows users to temporarily stream an Office 2013 application on any compatible computer without needing to fully install it.[2][7][8][20]

Access to the Office Mobile apps for Android smartphones and iOS devices are also included.[21][22][23]


The Office 365 platform uses a rolling release model; updates to the online components of the service are provided once per quarter. On launch, the 2010 versions of server components were used with Office 365. These services were automatically upgraded to their Office 2013 counterparts upon its release in February 2013.[9] With the introduction of Office 2013, Office division head Kurt DelBene stated that minor and incremental updates to the Office desktop software would be provided on a similarly periodic basis to all Office 365 users by means of the streaming system, as opposed to the three-year cycle for major releases of Office that had been used to the past.[9][24]


In December 2011, Microsoft announced that the Office 365 platform was now compliant with the ISO/IEC 27001 security standards, the European Union's Data Protection Directive (through the signing of model clauses), and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act for health care environments in the United States. At the same time, Microsoft also unveiled a new "Trust Center" portal, containing further information on its privacy policies and security practices for the service.[25][26] In May 2012, Microsoft announced that Office 365 was now compliant with the Federal Information Security Management Act: compliance with the act would now allow Office 365 to be used by U.S. government agencies.[27]


Office 365 is available in a number of different subscription plans aimed at different needs and market segments, providing different sets of features at different price points.[28][29][30] These include:


Comparison of features per licensing plan[38][39]
FeatureOffice OnlineBusiness
Plan 1
Payment termsFreePer user
per month
Per user
per month
or annual
or annual
Per user
per month
Per user
per month
Per user
per month
Per user
per month
Number of users licensedUnlimited25Unlimited1525UnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
OneDrive storage per user15 GB1 TB1 TB1 TB1 TB1 TB1 TB1 TBNothing
Word DesktopNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesNo
Excel DesktopNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesNo
PowerPoint DesktopNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesNo
OneNote Desktop[a]NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesNo
Outlook DesktopNoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesNo
Publisher Desktop[a]NoNoNoYesYesYesYesYesNo
Access Desktop[a]NoNoNoYesYesNoYesYesNo
Lync DesktopNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
InfoPath Desktop[a]NoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
Office Online appsYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesView attachments only
Exchange ServerNoYesYesNoNoYesYesYesYes
Lync serverNoYesYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
Yammer EnterpriseNoNoYesNoNoNoYesYesNo
Public websiteNoYesYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
File storage and sharingNoYesYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
Intranet site for teamsNoYesYesNoNoYesYesYesNo
Active Directory integrationNoYesYesNoNoNoYesYesYes
Site mailboxesNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesNo
Office Mobile and Office for tabletsNoNoNoNoNoYesYesYesNo
Advanced emailNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
eDiscovery CenterNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
Self-Service-Business IntelligenceNoNoNoNoNoNoYesYesNo
  1. ^ a b c d Windows only


TechRadar gave the 2013 update of Office 365 a 4.5 out of 5, praising its administration interfaces for being accessible to users with any level of expertise, the seamless integration of SkyDrive Pro into the Office 2013 desktop applications, and the service as a whole for being suitable in small business environments, while still offering "powerful" options for use in larger companies (such as data loss protection and the ability to integrate with a local Active Directory instance). However, the service was panned for how it handled its 2013 update for existing users, and its lack of integration with services such as Skype and Yammer.[17]

Being a cloud computing service, there can be service outages, like there was on June 23, 2014 of Lync instant messaging service and of Exchange email service the next day, June 24, 2014 over multiple hours.[40]


  1. ^ a b "Microsoft Office 365 Launching June 28". PC Magazine. Retrieved 14 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Office 2013 vs. Office 365: Should you buy or rent?". Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "Microsoft takes aim at Google Apps with Office 365". Network World. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "BPOS Customers Face Transition to Office 365". PC World. Retrieved 18 June 2013. 
  5. ^ "Microsoft Office 2013 Pro released to the masses, Office 365 updated". Ars Technical access date=15 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "Review: Microsoft Office 365 Home Premium Edition hopes to be at your service". Ars Technica. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Office 365 for businesses gets upgraded, new bundles added". ComputerWorld. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Office 2013 available now: Microsoft ditches DVDs in push for cloud subscriptions". The Verge. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  9. ^ a b c "Office 365 and Yammer integration: What's coming". CNET. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Office 365 customers can replace SharePoint newsfeed with Yammer". Computerworld UK. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "Microsoft Makes Data Mining Self-Service With BI for Office 365". CIO. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  12. ^ "Microsoft adds business intelligence tools to Office 365". PCWorld. Retrieved 9 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "Microsoft throws in 12 months of Xbox Live Gold for free with every annual Office 365 subscription". TheNextWeb. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  14. ^ "Microsoft adds personal Office 365 subscription". PC World. Retrieved 13 March 2014. 
  15. ^ "Microsoft releases Office 365 Personal -- for iPad too". CNET. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "Microsoft kicks off Google 'productivity war' by doubling free OneDrive storage". The Verge. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Office 365 review: The cloud route to new desktop features". TechRadar Pro. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  18. ^ "Office 365: SkyDrive Pro - SkyDrive Pro replaces SharePoint MySites and provides business users with cloud-based document storage". Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows. Retrieved 20 March 2013. 
  19. ^ "Microsoft SkyDrive becomes OneDrive, gets camera backup for Android, real-time co-authoring, and easier video sharing". The Next Web. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  20. ^ Paul Thurrott (2012-09-17). "Office 2013: Pricing and Packaging | Office content from Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows". Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  21. ^ "Microsoft releases Office Mobile for Office 365 Android app". GSMArena. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  22. ^ "Office Mobile for iPhone Review". Paul Thurrott's Supersite for Windows. Retrieved 15 June 2013. 
  23. ^ "Microsoft unveils Office for iPad, free for reading and presenting". The Verge. Retrieved 27 March 2014. 
  24. ^ "Microsoft: We can update Office-by-subscription every 90 days". Computerworld. Retrieved 12 June 2013. 
  25. ^ "Microsoft touts Office 365 security compliance". Seattle Times. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  26. ^ "Microsoft Boosts Office 365 Security To Meet European Data Protection Requirements". CRN. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  27. ^ "Office 365 hard enough to penetrate US government". The Register. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  28. ^ "Is Office 365 Right for your Business". Everon Technology. Retrieved October 20, 2011. 
  29. ^ "Office 365 business plan". Microsoft. Retrieved March 8, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Office 365 Home Premium". Microsoft. Retrieved March 8, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Microsoft adds a new $70 'Personal' SKU to its Office 365 line-up". ZDnet. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  32. ^ "Office 365 Personal now available for $7 per month". Engadget. Retrieved 16 April 2014. 
  33. ^ "Microsoft launches four-year, $80 Office 365 University subscription for students". Engadget. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  34. ^ a b c Paul Thurrott (2012-07-16). "Office 2013 Public Preview: Office 365 for Home and Businesses". Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Retrieved 2012-11-21. 
  35. ^ a b "The New Office 365: What’s a Small Business to Do?". Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  36. ^ a b c Thurrott, Paul (2 October 2014). "Now Available: The New Office 365 Plans for Small and Medium Businesses". Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Penton Media. 
  37. ^ a b "Microsoft Updates Office 365 for Business, Adds New Plans". PC Magazine. Retrieved 21 March 2013. 
  38. ^ "Compare all Office 365 for business plans". Microsoft. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  39. ^ "Buy Office 365". Microsoft. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  40. ^ Microsoft Lync & Office 365 Outage: A Reminder of Cloud Risk

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