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What is Office 365?

More and more people are enjoying the flexibility that Office 365 brings... but what is it, and how does it work? Our new blog aims to fill in the gaps!


Hello dear reader, it’s me, Zarte again. Yes, a cure for most things, but not me yet.

In this article, I’m going to answer one of the questions that we get asked a lot here at BEA Solutions. What the heck is Office 365?

Well, it’s an excellent question. I’m glad you asked. But to answer it, let’s answer another question first – what is Microsoft Office?

For the uninitiated, previously disinterested or just bewildered (and I categorise myself as all 3 of those things on various matters), Microsoft Office is the Microsoft product that gives you access to several of the tools that you might use on a day to day basis. So Microsoft Word is their word processor, Excel is their spreadsheet tool, and then you have Publisher, OneNote, Powerpoint and Access which all do different things – in other words, you should be able to cover all the things that you need to do in your daily office life between those products.

Traditionally, you would go to a shop, preferably that sells Microsoft Office, and ask them for a copy. This would be yours to keep. It is accessible by you forever more – you own the license. You pay one upfront payment and that’s it.

However recently, some people at Microsoft thought that it might be a good idea to offer people flexibility, and so they came up with 3 different packages, that could be paid for at a monthly rate to allow them to get access to the tools they needed, and for those tools to be updated with the latest versions as soon as they were released.

Business Essentials isn’t the traditional Office with Word etc. – rather it’s more about communications, as it gives you a hosted e-mail, access to the Microsoft Cloud, and Skype-for-business. It gives you access to online versions of the software, but not the software itself.

Business is the opposite, it has Outlook, rather than hosted e-mail. It has access to the cloud still, but it doesn’t carry any of the other features of essentials, but rather gives you the software, like Word, Excel etc.

Business Premium combines the two, and gives you access to all of those things, should you need them.

The advantages of this are, firstly, you can pay for something close to what you need. Sure you might get a couple of superfluous bits, but ultimately you will have access to those tools that you actually have a need for.

Secondly, as mentioned, as soon as Microsoft improve one of the products you’re using, you will get that improved version. If you buy Office off the shelf, you will only ever have that version, which can be fine for some people, but for others, new additions will prove invaluable. Additionally, things like access to the Cloud are not features you get with the off the shelf model.

The third thing to consider is both a positive and a negative, dependent on your own personal circumstances. Because the payments are monthly, and you receive the product for as long as you subscribe, you could want to use the product for several years, but as soon as you need to stop, you lose access to everything. You never hold a license for the product, you are in essence, just renting it. You will, as previously mentioned, always have the license for a fully purchased version. However you avoid that more substantial payment, meaning perhaps your cash flow will be helped by smaller increments.

The last point is going to be entirely subjective, however from our very personal point of view, there’s one extra thing to bear in mind. Whilst Microsoft ask for a monthly payment, they actually require an annual subscription, meaning you’re committing to 12 months payment before you’ve even seen what the product can do for you. If you buy from us, monthly MEANS monthly – there’s no obligation, you just pay for the product when you need it, and can more accounts or remove them depending on your staffing/home situation at any time.

So, perhaps now’s the time to move away from your faithful copy of Office 2008, and move to Office 365. Or perhaps this has actually suggested to you that you’d rather buy a copy of Office – in which case we can actually help with that too! Either way, why not let us know what you think, or give us a call to discuss how we could add some Office to your world.

Until next time!