5 Common Office 365 Misconceptions

Laptop on desk with stationary

Do you know what Office 365 really is or how it works?

If you’re not completely clear on what Office 365 really is or how it works, you are certainly not alone. Microsoft has released so many services and apps in recent years, that it can be difficult to keep up with what’s what.

Read on to be enlightened about the wonderful world of Microsoft Office 365 and the truth behind these 5 common misconceptions…

1 - Office 365 is the same as Office Online

No, these are different.

Office Online is basically a collection of free web-based applications (including: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook) for home users that you can only use in your internet browser. All you need to access Office Online is a free Microsoft account.

Office online apps

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud-based service, which is largely where the confusion with Office Online comes from – both save things to the cloud (i.e. OneDrive). Many Office 365 plans exist for both home and business. Lots of these plans include the fully installed Office suite on your devices (although not all) and OneDrive cloud storage – plus a lot, lot more. It’s easy to see how people get Office 365 confused with Office Online, as both allow you to use Microsoft Office and save to cloud storage. The Office 365 business/enterprise plans also include the ability to use web versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, including those plans that don’t include the desktop Office apps.

It is important to bear in mind that Office 365 is so much more than just Microsoft Office with cloud storage, and that some of the business plans are full of a huge range of applications and services. Check out point 2 below…

2- Office 365 is just Microsoft Office with cloud storage

There are different editions of Office 365 and each edition gives you access to different components that make up Office 365. Broadly speaking, the home and personal versions of Office 365 are just the Microsoft Office apps with cloud storage (OneDrive). In comparison, the Business and Enterprise editions, come with a wide range of applications and features – these will depend on the plan you choose. As well as having the Office suite, you can also gain access to these apps (and more):

SharePoint (shared documents)

  • OneDrive (cloud storage)
  • Yammer (a business’ own social network)
  • Skype for Business (instant messaging, calling, conferencing and video)
  • Teams (team workspaces)
  • Planner (teamwork planning)
  • Delve (search)
  • PowerApps (app creation)
  • Flow (automated workflow creation)

Office 365 app homepage

With the Enterprise versions of Office 365, there are even more features included, ranging from business intelligence apps (Power BI Pro) to a host of security features such as Advanced Threat Protection, Advanced Security Management, Data Governance and Data Loss Prevention and more. All the information you need about the different Office 365 plans can be found on Microsoft's website.

3 - My data won’t be safe in the cloud and others can access it

Many large organisations are now moving to the cloud and Office 365 -- a testament to the fact that Microsoft can offer the highest levels of enterprise-class security and compliance. A financially-backed guarantee of 99.9% uptime also demonstrates the reliability of the service.

Many people believe the misconception that Microsoft, governments and other third parties will have access to your data, or that the data no longer belongs to you, once your data is in the cloud. A few points to bear in mind are:

  • You control and own your data and Microsoft process it on your behalf. Microsoft don’t use your data for anything other than running your business
  • Microsoft engineers don’t have access to your data. They don’t build any backdoors into your data and third parties do not have access either
  • Your data is encrypted at rest and in transit
  • Microsoft will send a request to your administrator if they need access to your data (usually to solve a support issue you have logged)
  • Not only do Microsoft ensure they meet all of the major compliance requirements, if you’ve got specific industry regulatory requirements to comply with, these can be achieved with Microsoft

Your data is subject to the highest levels of data security and physical security at Microsoft’s datacentres. There are very few companies that could come close to having the security and data protection levels in place that Microsoft have, which is why more and more businesses are looking to move to the cloud. Find out more about data security with Microsoft’s Office 365 Trust Centre.

Data centre

4- Subscription payments aren’t cost effective

A common misconception is that subscriptions are not cost-effective and are just a way for Microsoft to reap even higher profits. The reality is that by paying on a subscription basis, you get access to the most current and up to date versions of Microsoft’s software. Microsoft regularly updates and improves their software, including the addition of some great new applications. When you’re on a subscription with Office 365, you can get these updates right away, allowing your business to enjoy the latest tools and software. With life-time licences and one-off payments, that software will inevitably become dated and you will need to pay again for the next version.

This could be a great opportunity to move your business’ IT spending from a largely CapEx (lump sum) to OpEx (monthly) model, and with the change of pace in the IT industry, this shift allows your business to avoid playing technological catch-up.

It is also worth considering the vast array of software and services that come with Office 365. If you were to purchase these individually with one-off payments, the cost would certainly exceed the cost of the subscription. With so much bundled into Office 365, your business will be getting real value for money if you use the features which are included.

Every business is different, but for many a subscription-based model with Office 365 is very much cost-effective and represents good value for money.

5 – Office 365 is cloud-only

Due to Office 365 being a cloud-based service, a lot of people believe that it requires migrating your full IT needs to the cloud – which is not actually the case. With Office 365, you can adopt a hybrid-cloud model which uses compute or storage resources on the cloud and your on-premise network. With a hybrid-cloud model, you could either integrate your on-premise infrastructure with cloud services and platforms, or you could migrate your IT to the cloud -- using a hybrid-approach as the pathway to the full migration.

Many businesses prefer to move particular parts of their IT to the cloud when they become Office 365 customers e.g. their email, before moving more and more to the cloud over time.

In summary…

All things considered, it is easy to see why there are some common misconceptions about Office 365. Office 365 is a continually evolving and extremely powerful option for businesses of all sizes. If you’re interested in what is yet to come with Office 365, Microsoft have a dedicated roadmap site to show all updates being launched, rolling out, in development and past releases.

If you are already using Office 365 and feel like you aren’t using it to its full potential, we can provide support and training to help you get the maximum value out of Office 365. If you aren’t using Office 365 but are interested in what it can offer your business, we would happily give you a live demo to show you first-hand how it could benefit your business. We would love to hear from you - contact us today.