Office365: Answers to 10 Frequently Asked Questions

The Microsoft Office Suite is a collection of software programs found on a large number of business computers. Traditionally business owners purchased a bundle of programs (such as Word and Excel) and installed them on their company computers. They would then use that software until the time came to upgrade to a newer version. However, with the introduction of Microsoft Office 365, small business owners are finding that things have changed. To help you understand, use, and manage your subscription, we answer ten of the most frequently asked questions about Office365.

1. What exactly is Office365?

Microsoft Office 365 was initially released in 2011. It was created as an online, subscription-based version of the traditional Office Suite plus some extra Internet-based features and programs. Currently Office365 uses the programs in Office 2013.

2. Is Office365 only available when I’m online?

Actually no. Based on your chosen plan, you can choose to have your software online, downloaded onto your device(s), or a mix of the two. This allows you to customize Office365 based on your needs and any industry compliance regulations (if applicable). Office365 is designed to integrate both the online and on-premise applications so that you don’t lose anything when choosing to use both versions.

3. What are the different plans available?

There are currently 8 different plans available with Office365. Each plan has access to different programs and users. The plans are:
  1. Personal
  2. Home
  3. Business Essentials
  4. Business
  5. Business Premium
  6. ProPlus
  7. Midsize Business
  8. Enterprise.
The idea is that a consumer can pick the plan that gives him what he needs, without overpaying for unnecessary items or features. Each plan comes with a yearly subscription fee that covers up to a certain amount of computers (i.e. up to 25 computers).

4. What are the programs available on Office365?

Office 365 currently includes the following software programs:
  • Word
  • Excel
  • Powerpoint
  • OneNote Desktop
  • Outlook
  • Publisher
  • Access
  • Lync
  • Info Path
It also includes Internet services such as:
  • Exchange Server
  • Lync Server
  • Yammer Enterprise
  • OneDrive
  • Skype
  • SharePoint

5. How different are these programs from the traditional Office Suite?

Microsoft took pains to make sure that the software apps found online with Office365 are familiar to their previous customers. This means that there is no learning curve for someone switching from a traditional Office Suite to Office365. They also ensured that all of the applications offer a consistent experience no matter where they are accessed (i.e. desktop, tablet, or smartphone).

6. What does it mean for Office365 to run off of cloud technology?

Office365 makes use of cloud computing technology, which means that every document you create in an Office365 software is available on any of your devices. This includes all changes that are made from a different device. You can even share the documents with other employees, ensuring that everyone is viewing the latest version of your document.

7. How secure is the cloud?

Everything created within Office365 is protected through Microsoft’s secure data centers. Office365 allows the administrator to determine the settings and permissions of each user. The owner of each document has control over who exactly can see (or edit) the work.

8. What about privacy? Does Microsoft use my information stored in Office365 for advertising purposes?

Microsoft’s privacy policy states the following: "We use your data for just what you pay us for: to maintain and provide Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online services. We make it our policy to not use your data for other purposes. While some data may be stored or processed on systems used for both consumer and business services, our business services are designed and operated separately from Microsoft's consumer services. Microsoft does not scan emails or documents for advertising purposes."

9. How do upgrades work?

Office365 is upgraded approximately every 90 days. These upgrades are offered to all subscribers at no additional cost. However, it is the subscriber’s choice whether or not to install the upgrades.

10. If I end my subscription, do I lose access to all my documents created in Microsoft Office 365?

No. You will lose access to the software hosted in Office365, but you will still be able to open your files in a traditional desktop app.