Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365: What’s the Difference?

Post Date: 10/20/2020
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NOTE: Microsoft officially announced that Office 365 was renamed to Microsoft 365 on April 21, 2020. 

Microsoft 365 was originally unveiled several years ago at Inspire 2017. An all-encompassing package that includes Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, the new offering debuted with two configurations positioned at different segments of the market: Microsoft 365 Business and Microsoft 365 Enterprise. There’s now also Microsoft 365 for individual/family use.

Microsoft 365 Business is designed specifically for small-to-medium-sized businesses with up to 300 users. This offering only offers basic security features, but still acts as a great turnkey solution for smaller businesses who want a more integrated and secure way of using Windows 10 and Office 365.

What is Office 365? A cloud services platform that offers familiar Microsoft products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive (along with other productivity services) either online or on-premises via a subscription plan.

What is Microsoft 365? An all-in-one bundle that includes the MS Office suite, Windows 10 Pro, and Enterprise Mobility+Security for a complete, interconnected experience.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is, as the title implies, more geared towards larger organizations that want a single, secure platform with which to share and collaborate. It includes strong data security features on top of Windows 10 Pro and Office 365.


Microsoft 365 Education was announced a bit later and is geared towards schools and other institutions of learning. The goal is to empower educators with access to productivity and collaborative software that students can benefit from.

Finally, Microsoft 365 for home use is designed for individuals or families looking to enhance their day-to-day productivity. Users get access to premium Office apps across all of their devices with a focus on seamless connectivity and organization no matter what screen someone uses.

Why Not Just Subscribe to Office 365?

ms office suite

Similarly to how 2017’s Xbox One X was Microsoft’s response to customers who wanted to upgrade to a more powerful gaming experience, Microsoft 365 is their response to customers who desire a complete package when it comes to workplace productivity.

Small-to-medium-sized businesses looking to adopt Office 365 would typically need to buy Windows 10 Pro and subscribe to a security service piecemeal. The organization would then also need to make sure all of their users were properly connected and covered under the security subscription.

With Microsoft 365, everything is integrated from the start. Not only does this make it less of a hassle from a buying perspective, but it also makes it easier to navigate for end users. By buying into the entire Microsoft ecosystem from the get-to, businesses have a chance to save valuable resources and use them for running their operation.

What Does Each Offer Specifically?

The Microsoft 365 Business offering is fairly straightforward, but Enterprise and Education are comprised of multiple tiers tailored to different use cases. And what is in the Microsoft Office suite? Here’s everything you need to know:

Microsoft 365 Business

Microsoft 365 Business is designed for SMBs with 300 users or less. It’s comprised of:

  • The MS Office suite
  • 1TB of storage
  • Device management capabilities via Microsoft Intune
  • Basic data and app security

Microsoft 365 Enterprise

Microsoft 365 Enterprise was made for larger organizations that need stronger security and device management functionality. It’s broken up into three tiers:

  • F1 (for Firstline Workers)
    • Office 365 (minus Access)
    • Basic threat protection
  • E3 (Basic Tier)
    • Office 365
    • Basic threat protection
    • Office 365 Data Loss Prevention
  • E5 (Premium Tier)
    • Office 365
    • Advanced threat protection
    • Office 365 Data Loss Prevention
    • Audio conferencing/Phone system
    • Advanced compliance tools
    • Analytics tools

Microsoft 365 Education

  • A1 (Basic)
    • A free, limited version of Office (for students and teachers) complete with all the essentials needed to enhance learning in the classroom
    • Basic information protection
  • A3 (Standard)
    • Everything in A1
    • Full access to Office desktop apps
    • Stronger information protection and security management tools
  • A5 (Premium)
    • Everything in A3
    • Advanced security tools
    • Advanced compliance tools
    • Analytics systems


Microsoft 365 Home

  • Personal
    • One person
    • 1TB of storage
    • Access to the latest Office apps
    • Seamless experience across screens
  •  Family
    • 2-6 people
    • 1TB of storage per person
    • Same apps and experience as the Personal plan
    • Premium safety features accessible via the mobile app

Microsoft 365 In a Nutshell

Microsoft 365 has a lot to offer businesses that haven’t made the move to Office 365 and want to set up their environment as fast as possible. Microsoft 365 Business should be especially popular among new SMBs that want to get a collaborative environment off the ground quickly. And for individuals who want to access all of their notes and personal projects from any device, Microsoft 365 Personal is a no-brainer.

Learn more about how to utilize the productivity components of the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 suites:


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As the former Content Marketing Specialist for AvePoint, Brent led the strategy and direction of all AvePoint's blog properties.

View all posts by Brent Middleton
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