Following its launch more than 10 years ago, Office 365 has been hailed for its ability to keep organizations connected over the internet through cloud-based applications, such as Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook and others. It has since undergone myriad changes and has evolved in response to the modern, flexible workplace.
Among the most significant shifts over the years: Microsoft 365 rebranding, the release of Windows 10, new licensing requirements, pricing adjustments, and the long-awaited Oct. 5 release of Windows 11.
As you navigate these changes, it can be challenging to research and understand what this all means for your organization. While Microsoft is available for guidance, it’s also prudent to work with a managed services provider (MSP) with long-term vendor relationships and experience, for best practices and additional knowledge.
Below we’ll discuss how an MSP can assist with Microsoft licensing and updates, pricing, operating system upgrades, and other components.
Office 365 Vs. Microsoft 365:
Is There a Difference?
Microsoft changed the name of Office 365 to Microsoft 365 to better “reflect the range of features and benefits in the subscription, to meet the unique needs of individuals and businesses,” according to the company. While most Office 365 subscriptions were automatically changed, a few Office 365 enterprise plans remain active.
Launched in 2017, Microsoft 365 combines its cloud-based offerings available under Office 365 with enterprise licenses for Windows 10, and the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite. There are varying versions and license types available, so it’s best to review the options thoroughly, and choose one that best suits your organization.
On April 21, 2020, Microsoft officially absorbed the Office 365 product set into the Microsoft 365 brand. As a result of this change, the Office 365 branding was discontinued, and existing services were reworked under the Microsoft 365 branding. Presently, Microsoft’s licensing options fall within three major categories: Home/Family, Business, and Enterprise.
- Microsoft 365 Home is intended for individual users purchasing personal/family licenses.
- Microsoft 365 Business has four main tiers:
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium
- Microsoft 365 Business Apps for Business (Apps only, no SharePoint, Teams or Exchange)
- Microsoft 365 Enterprise provides a variety of customizable tiers for enterprise-level organizations.
Built on improved productivity and collaboration, Microsoft 365 also facilitates easy remote access, automatic upgrades, and time-saving functionalities.
Launched in 2017, Microsoft 365 combines its cloud-based offerings available under Office 365 with enterprise licenses for Windows 10, and the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite.
Microsoft Pricing Adjustments
With the emergence of new innovations and features added since the service’s inception, Microsoft has announced a price increase for certain subscriptions and operations systems, effective March 1, 2022. As the first significant adjustment since its launch, most subscriptions are set to increase between $1 and $4 per seat.
It’s best to consult an MSP if you’re unsure of specific pricing increases, and how it will factor into Service Level Agreement (SLA) terms and conditions.
Microsoft Licensing Reviews & Updates
Just as pricing adjustments are important to any organization’s bottom line, it’s also recommended to review Microsoft licensing and subscriptions. Common issues that could occur—or are perhaps inadvertently overlooked—include duplicative and unused licenses, additional fees and overpayments, security, and end-of-life products.
To learn more about these, and other components, read our blog: “Have You Reviewed Your Microsoft Licensing?” for additional tips and best practices.
It’s also a good idea to schedule a discussion with your MSP to ensure licenses are updated and in good standing.
New & Updated Microsoft Applications
Since its 2011 inception, Office 365 has added more than 25 new applications to improve daily task and communication collaboration, such as Access, Skype for Business, Publisher, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams.
With Teams launching in 2017, it has undoubtedly become one of the most essential applications for business communications, task organization, and meeting brainstorm sessions. This is especially important as remote, hybrid and in-office setups continue to be the norm. Other features include live captions and subtitles for 20 different languages, worksheet collaboration, multilingual speech-to-text and elimination of context switching by using ready-made apps directly in the Teams platform.
Windows 11 Release Date
As aforementioned, with the first major operating system upgrade since Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft announced that Windows 11 will be available to the public on October 5. According to a Microsoft blog, the operating system includes several upgrades, such as:
- Clean, Calm & Modern Design
- Content-Driven Start Button for Easy File Retrieval
- Powerful Multitasking Tools
- Taskbar Integrations Within Microsoft Teams Chat
- Faster, Easier Information Access
- Most Inclusive & Accessible Design to Date
- Additional Ease of Use for Developers & Independent Software Vendors (ISVs)
Navigating Microsoft Updates & Changes
As you review and assess your organization’s Microsoft licensing, pricing, updates, and subscriptions, it’s best to engage with a well-versed, reputable MSP who can help ensure everything is in place.