They say you can’t stop a speeding train. Perhaps that’s why Microsoft moved full steam ahead with its plan to unveil new subscription products and product features, despite the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, the technology company unveiled Microsoft 365, a rebranding of Office 365 which Microsoft says is an evolution of the popular Office suite, paired with new AI, rich content and templates, and new cloud-based experiences.
The rebrand applies to the company’s family and personal subscriptions to the Office suite or products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access) as well as business subscriptions. The rollout with product updates begins immediately, but it will take several months to reach all 38 million current subscribers. Current subscribers don't need to do anything to access the changes. Microsoft will make the updates automatically.
“Today, we are delighted to announce that on April 21st, Office 365 will become Microsoft 365, the subscription for your life to help you make the most of your time, connect, and protect the ones you love, and to develop and grow,” said Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of modern life, search and devices for Microsoft.
The company also announced it will be rolling out a new Microsoft Family Safety app, designed to keep families safe online. We can expect to see a preview of this app in the coming months. In addition, Microsoft has added new features to Teams to help family and friends connect. Microsoft Edge browser users will also see changes, including a password manager and a collections feature to simplify research.
“Now more than ever, as many of us work and learn remotely, we’re acutely aware of all the different ways life can interrupt work and work can interrupt life. It’s never been more important to stay connected and on top of the things that matter,” Mehdi said. “Aligned with our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more, we want to help you and your family across work, school, and life.”
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Pricing for family and person subscriptions for Microsoft 365 remains the same as it is for Office 365.
Please note Microsoft Teams for Home use is not shown above. Microsoft said a preview of this new version of the Teams app for friends and family will be available soon, but the app will not be available at the April 21 launch date for the rebrand.
No offense to Microsoft, but their announcements were a bit ambiguous. For example, they are touting the personal and family subscriptions as new, but Microsoft previously offered consumer subscriptions to its Office suite. In their business subscription announcement, they said nothing but the subscription plan names are changing now, but if Office products are getting an upgrade, doesn’t it make sense the products in the business subscriptions would be updated too?
Here is what we think is happening. Microsoft will begin rolling out changes to Office products for current subscribers now, but it could take time to get to everyone. Additional bells and whistles will be available when Office 365 becomes Microsoft 365 on April 21 with even more features and apps like Teams for home and the Family Safety app coming a bit later. It is not clear what, if any changes, will be made to the business subscriptions. The announcement was really about rebranding and a look at what is to come, so it was not the big announcement that everyone expected it to be.