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What do you get in Office 365?

When you think about Office 365 or G Suite the first thing that comes to mind is hosted email, followed by document editing and cloud storage. It is true that those are the core components, but the scope of these services is constantly increasing and there are many more applications available. You can also add third-party applications that integrate with each service.

The main purpose of this piece is to make the point that Microsoft's cloud platform is more extensive than many realise, even among those who already subscribe. Customers get better value if they make fuller use of what is on offer.

Office 365 plans

Before listing the various applications, a quick look at Office 365 plans. Microsoft changes these plans from time to time, so please check here for the latest information.

First, note that Office 365 plans are in several categories:

Home plans do not include hosted email and are essentially just a way to buy Office applications on subscription. Not recommended for businesses.

Business plans are for small businesses. Note there is a maximum of 300 users. Note also that the licensing is per-user. That means a user can install the applications on up to 5 phones, 5 tablets, and 5 PCs or Macs.

Enterprise plans are for businesses of any size. They are significantly more expensive per-user than the small business plans.

Single-product plans are also available, of which the most interesting is Exchange Online. This is the most cost-effective plan if you you need is business-grade email. It is around half the cost of Enterprise E1 if you get the basic plan 1 (50GB mailbox limit), and a little cheaper than Business Essentials. However you do not get any desktop applications, not even Outlook.

Applications in Office 365

The following will go out of date quickly, but at the time of writing these are the main applications in Office 365, all of which can be used with only a web browser and an internet connection except where noted. There is a short description for each, though of course there is no room for detail.

An evolving suite

Office 365 is an evolving suite, and capabilities are being added constantly. They are also sometimes removed, which is an inherent risk with cloud services, but Microsoft is reasonably responsible in terms of giving good notice before a service is withdrawn.

It is also possible to build custom applications and to install third-party application to extend Office 365. An app store makes subscribing to additional service easy.

Microsoft has other cloud services, licensed separately, which integrate with Office 365. The most notable is Dynamics 365 which covers sales and marketing, customer relationship management, customer service management, finance and operations. Dynamics is expensive but does add huge value if used intelligently.