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Rebranding the cloud – Why is Microsoft switching up its 365 suite?

From April 21, 2020, there are going to be some significant changes coming into effect over at Microsoft 365. Arriving hot on the heels of their latest major announcement, which saw them bringing the cloud-based subscription service to the everyday consumer with their ‘Personal’ and ‘Family’ subscription services and their new offerings for small-medium enterprises (SMEs), the company has decided to completely rebrand its 365 product line.

Microsoft 365 started life back in 2017 as a business suite comprising Windows, Office and Enterprise Mobility and Security services. In just three years, however, it has evolved into a more cohesive and comprehensive set of services and apps that heavily utilises the benefits of the cloud and artificial intelligence (AI). This includes everything from cloud file storage and sharing, to more intensive security and safety options and integration with Microsoft’s excellent Teams video conferencing platform.

Until recently, this suite was only available at the enterprise level, but now, with the world facing unprecedented health and economic challenges, the brand has decided to throw open the floodgates to consumers and SMEs too.

This change necessitated a rebranding. And so, as of April 21:- 

  • Office 365 Business Essentials will become Microsoft 365 Business Basic.
  • Office 365 Business Premium will become Microsoft 365 Business Standard.
  • Microsoft 365 Business will become Microsoft 365 Business Premium.
  • Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus will both become Microsoft 365 Apps. Where necessary they will use the “for business” and “for enterprise” labels to distinguish between them.

Changing lanes in a crisis

The obvious question to ask is, of course, why the rebrand now? It could be argued that with the world essentially on lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak and more people than ever before working from home as a result, it’s a means of promoting their cloud services to a wider audience. 

This is particularly true of their Microsoft Teams platform, which is perfectly equipped to deal with complicated meeting requirements for dozens of users at a time and is generally more stable than competing platforms, such as Zoom.

The renaming, meanwhile, aims to make it clearer for consumers to navigate the various products and subscription models that the 365 platform offers. 

Given the seemingly random scattering of the words “Office” and “Business” in the previous naming conventions, it’s easy to see why Microsoft has gone this route. 

The new names are significantly clearer and reflect the fact that, while Microsoft Office remains an important part of the package, it’s so much more now than the traditional ‘Word, Excel, and Powerpoint’ – it’s also a platform aided by AI and supplemented by powerful conferencing, streaming, and analytical tools. Now, it’s available to everyone and various entry levels and price points.

Different name, same game

It’s important to note, however, that functionally speaking, Microsoft 365 is not changing in any significant way. There are new features like Microsoft Editor (which is essentially their version of Grammarly) and the Family Safety App, and all apps have been given slight upgrades but at heart, it’s still the same old platform.

Indeed, existing customers don’t even need to do anything, as the changes will happen automatically. It’s a way of Microsoft letting everyone (not just major enterprises) know where they stand in 2020. 

Microsoft has doubled down on the cloud, and this includes everything from cloud-based online support to file storage, conferencing and particularly AI.

If you would like to understand more about the 365 suite and how the changes might affect you then please contact your Cambridge Support Account Manager or Technical Consultant. They will be happy to help guide you through these changes and what they could mean for your business.