- Office 365 is the familiar Microsoft desktop applications, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but hosted in the Cloud, in Microsoft’s secure data centres.
- Instead of purchasing licenses to own the software, you pay a monthly fee to effectively ‘rent’ the software.
The Office you’re familiar with, in the Cloud
Usually, when people hear “Cloud”, or “Software as a Service”, they immediately think of accessing programs through a web browser, using online web applications to create and edit documents, and experiencing reduced functionality and sometimes poor responsiveness. People can be turned off from the idea of Office 365, because they think they are going to be paying for a Microsoft version of Google Apps, and they won’t have the full Office suite of programs installed on their devices, with all their functionality.
You do get this type of online service with Office 365, but it is not your primary method of using the software. It is vital to stress that with Office 365 you get the full desktop Microsoft Office applications. For a small monthly fee per user, you can rent this software. Each user gets up to 5 installs of the software, as well as unlimited use of the online web apps.
Reduced IT Costs and Simple Management
Office 365 can work out much cheaper and more manageable than buying the full software license for each user in your organisation. Another benefit is that you will automatically receive upgrades when newer versions of Office applications are released, whereas without Office 365, you would have to purchase software licenses again if you wanted the new versions. You will also automatically receive patches and security updates.
In addition, all members of your organisation can enjoy access to the full range of Microsoft Office applications, exchange email, and remote working - without you needing to install and maintain any expensive equipment or IT infrastructure.
Which Applications are included?
With Office 365, you get the Microsoft Office applications that should be crucial to your business.
That’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher, Access, Lync and InfoPath.
Aside from costs and automatic updates mentioned above, there are considerable benefits to having these applications through Office 365 over standard software licenses.
- Any documents you create, can be saved to OneDrive, your company’s drive in the cloud.
- You don’t have to manually upload your files to OneDrive, you can save to the cloud straight from the application.
- The same goes for opening files, open files in the cloud straight from Word or Excel etc.
- SharePoint allows you to choose which other individuals (or groups) in your organisation have access to your files – and you can also open documents that they have shared with you.
Work anywhere, anytime, on the device you choose
With your 5 software installs, you could install all of these applications on you work PC, your home PC, and two laptops – one high performance, one portable ultrabook like the Lenovo X1 Carbon. That’s more than enough, and you’d still have an install remaining! Anywhere you have an internet connection, you’ll be able to access and edit all of your files, with your updates syncing in the cloud, so that your files are up to date on all devices. Even when you have no internet connection, you can still work on your documents and sync the changes when you get back online.
For when you don’t have access to any of your PCs and laptops, you can use the Office 365 smartphone or tablet app, and still enjoy access to all of your files. If you have access to a different PC which you have not used one of your installs on, you can still access your files and emails through the online Office web application.
Everything syncs across devices, so you don’t have to worry about working on a document on one device, then the file not having your latest changes when you want to resume editing on a different device such as your smartphone or your home PC. Your emails, contacts, calendars and tasks are all in sync too. You’ll probably add your Microsoft Exchange email account to your phone. If you do, reading and deleting emails on your phone updates them on the server so they’re not still there when log on to your work PC. Reminders, appointments and tasks that you enter on Outlook on one of your PCs will also pop up on your phone (if you want them to), so you won’t miss a thing while you’re out of the office.
Unlimited online meetings
Office 365 gives you the power to host and take part in unlimited online meetings and HD video streaming with your business contacts via Lync, including screen sharing. This solution means you can truly work remotely as if you were in the office. Office 365 already gives you access to your files and applications; unlimited video streaming puts you virtually in your office. Lync can also be used for instant messaging with your contacts - and it pulls availability status from your organisation's calendars, so you know when not to expect a reply.
Enterprise Social Networking with Yammer
Yammer is the social network for your business. Everyone in your organisation will be given access to Yammer, a private social network which can only be accessed by internal colleagues. You can create groups and discussion boards, manage members' access, and configure alerts and email notification settings. There's a smart phone app too, so you can stay in touch on the go.