Words Matter: Office 365

We’re fans of Microsoft, but even we have to admit that sometimes, the company acts like that uncle you only see at weddings who’s been telling you the same story for the last ten years.

Like Uncle Ron, Microsoft can get a bit repetitive. They use the same terminology repeatedly throughout their offerings. Unfortunately, each time they use a term, it means something completely different. This is the first in a series of articles defining commonly-re-used terms in the Microsoft world.

In this piece, we’ll discuss Office 365. Believe it or not, Microsoft uses the term often, to mean different things.

Use 1: 
Office 365 is umbrella term used to describe any of Microsoft’s cloud-based products. This includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business Online, and any bundle that includes all three.

Use 2:  
Microsoft uses Office 365 to describe the version of office most people install on their computers. This usage implies that installing Office will eliminate the need for upgrades. That’s not true, of course. The 2013 installs had to be upgraded to 2016, and will need to upgrade to the 2019 version announced at Ignite in September of 2017.

Jeez, I struggle to even write this out! Within each version (2010, 2013, 2016, etc) exists several editions. These are tiers within Office, like Office 2010 ProPlus or Office 2013 Business. That would be fine except Microsoft confuses the issue further by referring to every tier within their subscription models as Office 365. It takes a visit to the Microsoft website and a close reading of their offerings to discern what’s included in each subscription.

 Improper use: Azure
Office 365 is different from the Azure suite of products. Consumers use Office 365. IT professionals use Azure. Most non-IT pros will never even see it.

How do we keep it all straight? This potential mix-up is less of an issue since there’s a consensus among IT pros that Office 365 refers to the services, not the product.

What if you’re not an IT pro? That’s a big reason why we’re writing this series of articles. Clarity is important. Words matter.

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