Microsoft 365 vs Office 365: Differences Explained

We get it, not everyone is a Microsoft expert. In fact, most people aren’t. And that’s why we’re here to help clear up any confusion between Microsoft 365 and Office 365. 

These days, it seems like everything is a subscription-based service. But what does that mean for you and your business? Let’s break it down and various pricing tiers to consider to help your business stay up-to-date and secure.

What is Office 365?

Think of this as your basic model of a car without any airbags. Just your engine, steering wheel, pedals, air conditioning, pretty much the bare minimum of what you need to get from A to B.

In short, Office 365 was a service that provides access to the latest version of the Microsoft Office suite of apps. That includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and more. One of the best things about Office 365 is that it’s always up to date, so you never have to worry about having an outdated version of Word or Excel.

Microsoft then consolidated this suite of services and rolled into an holistic licensing solution called Microsoft 365.

What is Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) or M365 on the other hand is vastly different in the sense that it opens up the world of how we get stuff done.

Think of this as upgrading your car with all the added safety options such as proximity detectors and alerts, reverse cameras, dashcam, and connectivity options so that you can access data from CarPlay, have conversations, and make appointments whilst getting from A to B…you get the drift.

In today’s age, we expect all these things as standard, so why should your business be any different?


Microsoft 365 is basically everything that Office 365 is, plus a bunch of extra features. In addition to the apps in Office 365, you also get dynamic security features and advanced administration and collaboration tools with Microsoft 365 such as Sharepoint, OneDrive, Teams and much more. With this license, you can choose from different tiers depending on your needs.


Having M365 should be the very bare minimum license when setting up your foundational IT to ensure your business and data is secure and working to optimum levels at all times to help your business grow.


So which one should I choose?

Yes, you might be thinking why are there so many tiers, how would I know which one would work for my business or when should I move up a tier?

Whether you’re looking for basic Microsoft features or advanced security and collaboration tools, there are a few Microsoft 365 plans that could fit your needs. Some of the most popular pricing tiers include:

  1. M365 Business Basic, which includes access to all core Office apps as well as 1TB of storage on OneDrive and basic security and compliance features like data loss prevention and intrusion detection.
  2. M365 Business Standard, which includes all the features of the Basic plan, with additional Desktop versions of Office for PC and Mac.
  3. M365 Business Premium, the most secure of them all, which includes all the features of the Business Basic and Standard plans, but with the added benefits and features of Defender for Business, Advanced Threat Protection and Mobile Device Management to ensure that company data is secure no matter what device you are using.

Ultimately, the choice between these Microsoft 365 plans will depend on your business needs and budget. However, whichever option you choose, it’s important to make sure that your IT environment is setup, configured correctly and managed so it is up-to-date and secure so you can focus on growing your business.

Get the full comparison chart on all the various licensing tiers. (Hot tip: Hit ‘Expand All’ on the left as you scroll down)

Get expert advice on the best path forward for your business needs

Microsoft 365 can be a minefield we know, and we’ve only scratched the surface here with just the basic M365 licenses but what if you want more?

The Atarix team are well versed with marrying the various licensing combinations to suit your business needs, IT strategy and IT architecture to create a Secure Modern Workplace.

Drop us a line to enquire about what Microsoft licensing combinations will suit your business best.