Microsoft’s strong suit has never been clarity when it comes to packaging and pricing. A big part of the reason is that they offer a lot of different options and address problems for both individuals and businesses of every size. Not everyone wants the same software. But that can make it difficult to choose what’s best for business. Cloud services could mean big benefits for your business. When people ask about cloud-based Microsoft 365, we help them compare their options.
Office 365 vs. Microsoft 365
First off, not everyone knows what that Office 365 and Microsoft 365 are actually two different products. A long time ago there was only Office 365. A common misconception is that the company just renamed it Microsoft 365. That’s not entirely accurate.
Office 365 is a cloud-based set of apps most of us are already familiar with. It’s the same Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and other programs you’ve been using at your office, perhaps for decades. Microsoft 365 includes everything in Office with some additional services, one of the most noteworthy of which is the Enterprise edition of Windows 10.
Office 365 is available for personal and business use. Your subscription might also include apps like Skype, SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, and others. Pricing is on a monthly basis, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $35 per user.
There is no personal version of Microsoft 365. You get everything that goes with Office, with Windows 10, cloud storage, Power Automate, security and compliance features, and more. Pricing varies based on what features you need.
Pros of Cloud-Based Microsoft 365
Most business owners pull up a plan and immediately start tallying how many employees they have to figure out what their monthly subscription is going to run them. If you have a lot of employees, it gets expensive fast. Sometimes it’s more affordable to buy a smaller package and add individual services separately than it is to buy an all-in-one solution that contains solutions you’ll never use. One of the services we provide clients is helping them understand package pricing to get the most bang for their buck. Always feel free to reach out if you’d like to talk through what you currently use and see if there’s a more cost-effective way to get what you need.
That being said, Cloud-based Office 365 and Microsoft 365 at its very basic levels offer a ton of perks for business.
When you pay for a desktop version of Office 365 or Microsoft 365, you can install it on multiple devices so you can work from anywhere you have Internet access. Your documents, spreadsheets, PowerPoint projects, and other files are all stored in the cloud. When you save them on your work computer, they travel through the Internet to a super-secure remote location where they wait on around-the-clock maintained servers until you summon them again.
If you go on a last-minute trip and you need to sign in and print documents from a hotel computer, you can access the exact same data you had available to you at the office. When you’re meeting with a client and you realize the figures you put together for a separate bid are also applicable to them, you can use your cell phone to find them.
Have you ever sent a document to teammates for their input and ended up with multiple versions someone had to merge? Microsoft 365 and Office 365 solve this problem. Everyone gets real-time changes automatically. When team members make changes, everyone can see who made the change and what they did. Share direct access instead of emailing attachments back and forth for increased productivity. Plus, versioning lets you switch back if there’s a problem.
Strong Security Features
People worry the cloud might not be safe. It sounds nebulous, to say the least. However, with cloud-based Office 365 and Microsoft 365, Microsoft handles security concerns so you don’t have to. Microsoft offers a long list of security features, but these are the top seven:
- Multi-factor Authentication
- Mobile Device Management
- Encrypted email
- Data Loss Prevention
- Advanced Threat Protection
- Exchange Online Protection
- Azure Identity Protection
You Can Pay Month to Month
Businesses get the best pricing when they pay for a year at a time, but that’s not always feasible. When it’s not, budgeting teams feel a little less pressure by paying for one month of service at a time. This feature also helps if you have busy and slow periods because you can scale as needed.
Users Are Comfortable With Familiar Programs
At this point, most of us have been using Word, Excel, and PowerPoint since we were in high school. The staff doesn’t need to be trained on how to open, save, and edit documents. It’s familiar territory, so I.T. staff doesn’t have to offer training for new hires. Updates might cause a little grumbling, but for the most part, the staff keeps pace. Switching to cloud-based Microsoft 365 lets you offer the same programs everyone is comfortable with, with the additional benefits of being able to work from anywhere and not need to store data on-site.
Cons of Switching to Cloud-Based Microsoft 365
If there are pros, that implies there are also cons. Most businesses never look back, but a few have these complaints.
You Must Have Internet
If employees or stakeholders need to access work files from the top of a mountain, a cruise ship, or from their home in rural U.S., they might not be able to if there’s no signal. You must have an Internet connection to use cloud-based Microsoft 365, or cloud-based anything else for that matter.
If your company has a slow internet or you experience frequent outages, this can be a big problem. You won’t be able to open email or see the latest changes until the connection is restored.
You Might Pay for Functions You Don’t Need
Even the basic package of cloud-based Microsoft 365 is pretty value-packed. Some people complain they only use a few programs, so they shouldn’t get a bill for all the programs they don’t use.
More On Cloud-Based Microsoft 365
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