What Is Office 365? How Does It Differ From Microsoft Office?

Office 365 is a suite of services offered by Microsoft Office 365 Enterprise. It is the same Office you already know and use every day, but with a slightly different interface and many more features.

Microsoft’s branding of its Office 365 offering may have led to some confusion on how it differs from the Microsoft Office productivity suite that we’re all familiar with. So, what is the difference?

Microsoft Office is the name still used for all of the Microsoft software applications that we use, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Unlike Office 365, however, these applications can be installed on only one computer system and do not come with any cloud-based services. The “cloud”, if you’re not familiar, describes the means of storing and accessing your data over the Internet, instead of using your computer’s hard drive. Therefore, when you save files to the cloud, you can access them from virtually anywhere (desktops, laptops, tablets or mobile devices) and they will always be up to date, provided that you have access to the Internet. When you use cloud-based services, your IT infrastructure is maintained by a third party. As Microsoft Office is not powered by the cloud, the software must be purchased and installed from a disc.

Office 365, on the other hand, includes Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, etc.) and other productivity services, such as the SharePoint intranet site, instant web messaging using Lync, OneDrive cloud services, the Outlook Web App online mail service, and the Exchange Server e-mail server program. Office 365 plans also allow applications to be installed on multiple computers and devices. The service package is powered by the cloud, giving you the freedom to access your applications and files from virtually anywhere. With Office 365, you can work on documents stored in the cloud, even when you’re offline. Once you reconnect to the Internet, all of your changes will automatically synchronize. Your data is stored and managed remotely on servers owned by Microsoft. Lastly, because Office 365 is cloud-based, subscribing to the Office 365 suite requires downloading it, rather than purchasing it on a disc.

In addition to be able to work on regular desktops and laptops, Office 365 is designed to work on touch-screen devices, such as tablets and touch-screen laptops. Currently, subscribers can install Office 365 on machines running Windows 7 or 8. Older versions of Windows (Vista or XP) are not supported.

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