We've talked about how this digital era has brought about improvement on business operations and efficiencies numerous times. It has given birth to the concept of the cloud, which developers quickly utilized to make data and software accessible on any device.
Microsoft, being one of the software industry pioneers, created Office 365, the cloud version of Office on a monthly or annual subscription fee base. It has replaced discs for installation as all you have to do is to set up an account through the internet, make the payment, download the MS Office files, install them, and use as you normally would.
If you’re considering if MS Office 365 is right for your organization, our team of IT consultants can tell you more of its technical capabilities and build you cases and arguments both for moving and going against jumping to Office 365.
However, here are some basic facts that you might want to know:
Located off-site in the cloud
The cloud is the industry term for off-site file hosting service and Microsoft has created its own called OneDrive, where you can upload and synchronize your Office files to and access it from different locations or devices. It has also become ideal for collaboration projects where multiple users can work on the same file simultaneously. Of course, there is still that option of your files being stored locally on your hard drive, if that's what you prefer.
Office Online and Office 365
Office Online is the free but limited version of Office and is basically used to view and edit files on devices that do not have Office installed. Office 365 is a subscription-based plan that offers the full functionality of Office in the cloud, getting users the desktop feel with web-based convenience supporting multiple devices.
This requires at least Windows 7 or 8 (or later) and Mac Users need at least OS X 10.6 (or later). Internet access is required to install, activate and manage subscription. A compatible browser from IE, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome is required as well.
Local hardware system specifications should at the very least have:
1 GHz processor or Intel processor (for Macs)
1 GB or RAM (32-bit); 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
3 GB of available hard disk space; 2.5 GB for Macs
Be aware though that the specifications mentioned above will run Office 365 but it will be very slow as they are specs required “at the very least.” Companies wanting to move to Office 365 but still use older systems might see themselves with upgrade costs before they can switch.
Office 365 subscription costs and what it includes
Pricing for subscription can vary from $15.20 to $44.20 per user per month. This would all depend, of course, on the requirements of the business, number of users, Office functionalities, devices it will be used on, storage required, and other add-on services that organizations might need.
The applications you get are based on your subscription but most plans include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, OneNote, and even Publisher. Mac business versions, however, do not have OneNote, Publisher, or Access.
Again, it is best to talk with your IT consultant or if you don’t have one, give us a call to book a free assessment and our team can recommend a custom Office solution based on our assessment of your business goals and needs.
Compatibility with other versions
As not all have moved into this cloud version of Office, the issue of compatibility rises. But don’t fret. Files from Office 365 are compatible with Office 2010 and 2013. Office 2007 also works but users will lose some functionality. Office online can be used with these files. However, compatibility support with Office 2003 has ceased since 2014.
Businesses with Office versions other than Office 365 who are considering to move to it so they can share files with others who don’t have Office do not need Office 365. They can still save their files to OneDrive and invite others who don’t have Office to view them, and invitees do not need to have a OneDrive account to view the files.
Office Online is free so why subscribe?
Office online cannot substitute the desktop version or Office 365 as it is very limited. Viewing files there is great but it only offers the very basics of editing and formatting features. If the convenience of working with your files on multiple devices is high on your priority list, then Office 365 is a great investment.
The security of Office 365
Putting anything in the cloud, especially organizational data, is always a cause of worry for companies and it is always right to be concerned when dealing with sensitive data. Office 365 offers the same user-level security options and Trust Center as the desktop version. Rights management service (RMS) supports encryption and lets you set and control permissions. Users will have a reasonable amount of security at their level. Files saved off-site (OneDrive) are saved in specialized data center where security is primary concern, and therefore addressed accordingly.
Microsoft cloud security facts:
Office 365 applications use encryption; transmissions intercepted by anyone without authorization can’ be read.
Microsoft Office 365 is certified as compliant by accepted industry standards (ISO). (It does not fully satisfy the PCI-DSS standard).
Controls are in place to comply with HIPPA and FERPA.
If you are currently considering if Microsoft Office 365 is right for your organization, give us a call. We are a Microsoft Partner Gold Mid-Market Solution Provider and we offer free network assessment so our team can fully understand your network capabilities and provide you with a custom Office 365 solution that satisfies your business goals.