Has Microsoft Office Online been replaced by 365?

Nathan Hill-Haimes


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    With the popularity of Microsoft 365, you may find yourself questioning whether it has replaced Microsoft Office Online. Microsoft 365 has appeared in place of another Microsoft product, but Office Online is something a little different.

    Read on for the answers to all your questions about Microsoft Office Online and Microsoft 365.

    Has Microsoft Office Online been replaced by 365?

    Microsoft Office Online can be used as a free Microsoft Office alternative. It enables you to edit and share any file created in a word processor, spreadsheet or presentation programme, as well as OneNote and Outlook. Everything you do in Microsoft Office Online is performed through a web browser and saved online. Working in Office Online means you can access those files from anywhere by logging into your Microsoft account.

    Microsoft 365, on the other hand, is a productivity cloud designed to help individuals, businesses, and educational institutions achieve what they need to. It includes best-in-class Office apps alongside intelligent cloud services and sophisticated security.

    Microsoft 365 did not replace Microsoft Office Online, but it did come in place of Office 365 subscriptions. Like Office 365, Microsoft 365 is offered as a subscription service, whereby you choose the package that suits your needs and pay for what you use monthly. Microsoft 365 contains everything that was found in the old Office 365 plans, alongside various cloud services and security features that leverage the latest technology.

    For small and medium businesses, the change from Office 365 to Microsoft 365 is in name only. The plans and features are the same as they used to be. But for larger enterprises, the tools and features on offer have significantly increased, and this is why Microsoft decided to change the name. The new moniker is more representative of the comprehensive suite of features offered in the enterprise packages.


    Is Microsoft Office 365 Online free?

    In a word: no. When you first begin using it, you can try most Microsoft 365 subscription packages for free for one month. You must either decline to continue with it or commit to a paid subscription when this trial period ends. All Microsoft 365 packages require you to take up an annual commitment; this means you sign up for a one-year subscription and can choose to pay monthly or yearly. Incidentally, there is a discount for using this option.

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    The actual price of a Microsoft 365 package depends on where you sign up for it. If you choose to purchase a subscription from Microsoft directly, the current prices are as follows:

    • F1 subscription - £3.80 user/month
    • F3 subscription - £9.40 user/month
    • F5 subscription - £15.10 user/month
    • E3 subscription - £28.10 user/month
    • E5 subscription - £48.10 user/month

    As you can see, the cost of the packages varies significantly. The packages vary because of the tools and features you get, and the more expensive subscriptions allow you access to the most advanced technology from Microsoft's suite of products. The most costly subscriptions are generally suited to larger enterprises with 50+ employees - smaller organisations won't usually require the full range of features.

    It may be possible to get any one of these subscriptions at a lower price. You could try approaching a Microsoft Direct Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) instead of going to Microsoft directly. These companies are approved partners of Microsoft, so that you can trust their legitimacy. They can often arrange subscriptions at lower rates and can offer fantastic support in ensuring you have the right package for your needs. Migrating to Office 365 is not usually a simple process, so it may be wise to explore all options before committing.


    Is Microsoft 365 online or download?

    Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based business solution, so it stands to reason that it is only available online. This is why it is offered on a subscription basis; you cannot 'own' Microsoft 365 as it is only available online.

    Office 365 and Office Online are also online-only solutions. This model is becoming the new normal for many businesses and institutions around the world. However, it is still possible to purchase Microsoft Office as a locally installed programme.

    Some prefer this option, particularly if they don't need all the cloud-based additions offered with a Microsoft 365 subscription. By residing on a hard drive with access to the computer's operating system, Microsoft Office contains richer tools for tasks like inserting complex objects. Also, there are currently no online versions of Access or Publisher.

    However, this is where the advantages of the offline option end. It is fine if you only need the products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. With a small number of employees, this suite of software may fulfil your needs. But the rich collaborative features of Microsoft 365 can empower organisations with a comprehensive digital workplace that boosts productivity, streamlines processes and automates things like analytics and compliance. If any of this sounds helpful in your business, you will likely find a subscription package for you.

    Another thing to consider is that if you only require the features of the offline version of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Online offers virtually everything you need. It is almost identical to the offline versions but with the added benefits of being free and using OneDrive to save your work to the cloud. No one knows better than you what your business needs from its Microsoft Office features, so you are best placed to make a decision.

    Of course, if you feel you need support in making the right choice, you can always consult with an expert.


    Microsoft 365 replaced Office 365, not Microsoft Office Online, which is still available as a free tool to access many of the core Microsoft Office features via your web browser. If you only need these core functions then Office Online could be ideal, or you might consider purchasing an offline version of Microsoft Office for your business. However, if you want a powerful and richly-featured suite of tools that comprise a complete digital workplace, it might be time to consider going for Microsoft 365.
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