Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365: What's the difference?

Microsoft 365 vs Office 365

It is no secret that Microsoft Office is the most popular professional and productivity-oriented suite of applications besides Google. However, there is confusion among many users between Microsoft 365 vs Office 365, and they often are used interchangeably. Even though both are a suite of professional applications, they have some differences.  

According to the report Forrester Total Economic Impact Study, subscribing to Microsoft Enterprise E3 cuts 60% of licensing costs for large enterprises. It is no wonder that Microsoft Office is so popular with so many companies. In this blog, we will compare Microsoft 365 vs Office 365, including features, and subscription options. 

Table of Contents

1) What is Office 365? 

2) What is Microsoft 365? 

3) Key differences between Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365 

     a) The confusion between Office 365 and Microsoft 365 

     b) Differences in plan structure 

     c) Office 365 Enterprise Plans 

4) Conclusion 

What is Office 365? 

Office 365 is a cloud-based bundle of productivity applications that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and others that enable productivity, collaboration, and communication. It runs on a subscription model where you pay a monthly fee to access the service. There are multiple tiers of plans and subscriptions under it with varying features and applications at different costs. It includes the following applications under it: 

a) Outlook 

b) Office Suite – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher 

c) OneDrive 

d) Skype for business 

e) Teams 

f) Yammer 

g) Planner 

h) SharePoint Online 

i) OneNote 

Since it is based on the cloud, unlike earlier versions of "one-time license" purchases, you receive regular updates and security patches, which makes it more secure. The cloud service also enables the ability to collaborate in real-time and access the files stored in OneDrive remotely. 

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What is Microsoft 365? 

Microsoft 365 is also a bundle of cloud-based applications, including Office applications, Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. It includes all the standard applications that come under Office 365, like Word, Teams, OneDrive, Excel, etc., and some more applications like Microsoft Access. Second, it includes Windows 10 and some more applications that come under Enterprise Mobility + Security. It is a set of tools that provide enhanced security features for easier management of personal and work devices.  

Microsoft 365 has four distinctions of plans: 

a) Personal and Family 

b) Business 

c) Enterprise 

d) Education 

Personal and Family offer two plans that include most office applications and additional Family Safety features. The business offers four plans, including most of the office applications, enhanced security, and additional applications depending on the selected plans. Enterprise offers advanced security and includes all the standard Office applications in addition to some enterprise applications. It is geared to large organisations with more than 300 members. Education offers a standard set of office applications and targets school children focusing on learning and productivity. 

Key differences between Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365 

The significant difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 365 is that the latter has become a part of Microsoft 365 which is essentially a larger umbrella of applications, capabilities, and features. In 2020, Microsoft decided to rebrand Microsoft Office 365 into Microsoft 365, including a large set of applications, including Windows OS.  

In a way, more than being comparatively different, Microsoft 365 is a successor to Office 365. No business and personal/family plans are available under the name of Office 365; however, three plans under Enterprise still come under Office 365.  

Microsoft 365 features additional applications like Bookings, Listings, Planner, Delve, Invoicing and MileIQ. Also, Office 365 does not include robust security features and applications like Exchange, like in Microsoft 365.  

Another big difference between the two is the inclusion of Windows OS. Microsoft 365 comes with Windows, but Office 365 does not. This gives an excellent value boost to Microsoft 365, which bundles everything a business needs.

Difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 365
It is tough to directly compare the two sets of services as the older Office 365 plans don't exist anymore except for some Enterprise plans. However, talking on a broader scale, Microsoft 365 and Office 365 both had the standard office applications, file storage, email, calendar, and messaging/collaboration applications. However, Microsoft 365 stands out with its applications and services in device management, information protection, Windows OS, and Defender. 

The confusion between Office 365 and Microsoft 365 

It's 2023, and many are confused between Office 365 and Microsoft 365, and rightly so. Office 365 was released to the public in 2011, and in 2017 Microsoft 365 was released as a bundle of applications and services for businesses. This was the source of confusion as it was named similarly to the already existing Office 365. The fact that it included Office 365 in it made it more confusing for general users.  

In 2020, Microsoft decided to merge, or rather rebrand its Office name. Going forward, everything was rolled into Microsoft 365, which included all the applications from Office 365 and enterprise applications that were made for businesses.  

In short, Office 365 made the ultimate sacrifice and merged with Microsoft 365, which is now the only bundle of productivity and office applications. 

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Differences in plan structure 

Both Microsoft 365 and Office 365 divide its plan into Personal (Home), Business, Enterprise, and Education, although the plans and features might differ. 

Office 365 plans 

The following are the Office 365 plans: 

1) Home 

a) Office 365 Personal 

b) Office 365 Home 

2) Business 

a) Office 365 Business Essentials 

b) Office 365 Business Premium 

c) Office 365 Business 

3) Enterprise 

a) Office 365 ProPlus 

b) Office 365 E1 

c) Office 365 E3 

d) Office 365 E5 

4) Education 

a) Office 365 A1 

b) Office 365 A3 

c) Office 365 A5 

Microsoft 365 Plans 

1) Personal and Family 

a) Microsoft Personal 

b) Microsoft 365 Family 

2) Business 

a) Microsoft 365 Business Basic 

b) Microsoft 365 Business Standard 

c) Microsoft 365 Business Premium 

d) Microsoft 365 Apps for Business 

3) Enterprise 

a) Microsoft 365 E3 

b) Microsoft 365 E5 

c) Microsoft 365 F3 

3) Education 

a) Microsoft 365 A1 

b) Microsoft 365 A3 

c) Microsoft 365 A5 0

Microsoft Office Training

Office 365 Enterprise Plans 

Office 365 is still alive in the form of three plans for enterprises; Office 365 E1, E3, and E5. These plans are made for large enterprises and include the application and services for businesses, security features and office applications.  

Microsoft Office 365 E1  

E1 is the base tier plan for enterprises that offers essential services like email, file storage, and web applications like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint with the capabilities of cloud services like OneDrive and Teams. It is important to note that E1 doesn't offer Microsoft desktop applications and some of the advanced security features.  

Microsoft Office 365 E3  

E3 is the second tier, where it offers everything that E1 offers in addition to the desktop applications and some advanced security features and compliances.  

Microsoft Office 365 E5  

E5 is the highest tier that offers every desktop application, advanced security features and apps like Defender, BitLocker, cybersecurity, analytics, Power applications (like Power BI Pro), and voice capabilities. 


The confusion caused between the two is understandable, and the difference between Microsoft 365 vs Office 365 isn't much considering it just got a name change and Microsoft 365 absorbed Office into it, offering some extra applications, Windows OS and enterprise-level security features. If you want to sum up the difference, Microsoft 365 is the new Office 365 with additional shiny features. 

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