There has been plenty of movement in the software space of late with vendors hustling to adjust business models considering the global COVID pandemic. This has been particularly visible around those with communicative product offerings such as Zoom, Slack and Teams. What you may have missed though is quite separate to all this movement, Microsoft has re-named their Office 365 licensing suites to clean up some of the branding around them as well as perhaps point towards a more security focused future.
Office 365 (O365) launched in 2011 and includes the productivity applications we all know and love; Word, Excel and Outlook as well as newer collaborative software tools such as Teams and SharePoint. In introducing O365 Microsoft shifted buying behavior from a classic single purchase arrangement instead to a monthly/annual license term. It was rapidly adopted in business environments as it greatly assisted IT managers move licenses amongst a fluid workforce instead of being bogged down by a litany of physical software keys that need to be re-purchased every time a new user started or PC was purchased. Microsoft 365, not to be confused with Office 365 was introduced more recently and by extension, covers the above as well as including Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). This sees a shift in direction around Windows licensing, from the previous single purchase arrangement to a renewal type model aligning it with the O365 shift.
What are these changes you ask? In summary this represents the movements:
- Office 365 Business Essentials -> Microsoft Business Basic
- Office 365 Business premium -> Microsoft Business Standard
- Microsoft 365 Business -> Microsoft 365 Business Premium
- Office 365 Business -> Microsoft 365 Apps for Business
- Office 365 ProPlus -> Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise
How does this effect you me and everyone between? Well, apart from naming conventions, not a great deal. To the end user you should not expect too big a departure in terms of usage to what you’re experiencing now, more so, just a change in name to become familiar with. So why bother? O365 quickly became an advocate for a cloud based, collaborative workplace. Fast-forward nearly a decade and Microsoft 365 is all of this and more, including additional security tools and championing productivity for the modern workplace. Whilst the end game may not be so clear right now, in time it is likely we will see Microsoft shift it’s focus from being seen as a provider of office applications, to be a security focused collaborative workspace.