Office 365 for business FAQ
"Office 365" refers to subscription plans that include access to Office applications plus other productivity services that are enabled over the Internet (cloud services), such as Lync web conferencing and Exchange Online hosted email for business, and additional online storage with SkyDrive and Skype world minutes for home.
Many Office 365 plans also include the desktop version of the latest Office applications, which users can install across multiple computers and devices. The Office 365 plans that are online-only are a great choice for certain business needs, and they are compatible with desktop versions of the latest version of Office, Office 2010, Office 2007 (with slightly limited functionality), Office 2011 for Mac, and Office 2008 for Mac.
All Office 365 plans are paid for on a subscription basis, monthly or annually.
"Microsoft Office" is the name we still use for our familiar productivity software. Office suites have traditionally included applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. All the new Office suites (for example, Office Standard 2013) include the latest versions of these applications. These suites can be installed on only one PC and do not come with any cloud-based services included in Office 365.
Office 365 works best with the latest version of Office, Office 2010, and Office 2011 for Mac. Office 365 works with slightly limited
functionality with Office 2007. If you have an earlier edition of Office, you will need to update to a newer version of Office in
order to use Office 365; or you can subscribe to one of the many Office 365 plans that include the latest version of Office.
In addition to getting the latest version of Office as part of your subscription, you will also get automatic updates, so your
Office will always be up to date. Compare plans
Internet access is required to install and activate all Office 365 plans and to manage your subscription account. Internet connectivity is also required to access Office 365 cloud productivity services, including email, conferencing, IT management, and other services.
Many Office 365 plans also include the desktop version of Office, for example, Office 365 Small Business Premium and Office 365 Enterprise E3. One of the benefits of having the desktop version of Office applications is that you can work offline and have the confidence that the next time you connect to the Internet all your work will automatically sync, so you never have to worry about your documents being up to date. Your desktop version of Office is also automatically kept up to date and upgraded when you connect to the Internet, so you always have the latest tools to help you work. Compare Office 365 plans
"The cloud" is a friendly way of describing web-based computing services that are hosted outside of your organization. When you use
cloud-based services, your IT infrastructure resides off your property (off-premises), and is maintained by a third party (hosted),
instead of residing on a server at your home or business (on-premises) that you maintain. With Office 365, for example, information
storage, computation, and software are located and managed remotely on servers owned by Microsoft. Many services you use every day are
a part of the cloud—everything from web-based email to mobile banking and online photo storage. Because this infrastructure is located
online or "in the cloud," you can access it virtually anywhere, from a PC, tablet, smartphone, or other device with an Internet connection.
Office 365 is highly scalable and can support everything from a one-person business to companies with tens of thousands of users:
You can compare all the options here
- Office 365 small business plans are best for companies with up to 10 employees,
and can accommodate up to 25 users.
- Office 365 Midsize Business is best for companies with 11 to 250 employees, and
can accommodate up to 300 users.
- Office 365 enterprise plans fit organizations ranging in size from a single employee to 50,000-plus users.
Office 365 is offered in a number of countries/regions and languages. If your country's/region's name doesn't appear in the list, we have not currently
launched a version of Office 365 for your market. We're continuing to launch Office 365 in new markets and will publicly announce when
we launch Office 365 in any new market.
You don't need to install anything in order to use Office 365.
To help you easily connect your desktop version of the latest version of Office, Office 2010, or Office 2007 to Office 365, Microsoft provides Office 365 customers an installable piece of software—called "Office Desktop Setup"—at no charge.
Office Desktop Setup provides many benefits, including:
- Automatically detecting necessary updates.
- Installing updates and components upon approval or silently from a command line.
- Automatically configuring Outlook and Microsoft Lync for use with Microsoft Office 365.
- Uninstalling itself from the client computer after running.
You can find and install Office Desktop Setup in your Office 365 administration center.
If your plan includes a subscription to Office, you will also be able to install that directly from the
Office 365 administration center.
Yes. If you purchase Office 365 licenses for the accounts you create during your free trial, the information and configuration for
these users' accounts will remain intact. Once your free trial expires, you won't be able to continue using Office 365 for free.
You will have an additional 30 days to purchase Office 365 before your account information is erased. Once your trial account
information has been erased, it cannot be retrieved.
To add your organization's custom domain to Office 365, you must have access to the DNS records for that domain. If you do not
have access, you should contact the person at your company that manages the company domain account.
Support and pricing
You can pay with all major credit cards, and your subscription amount will appear on your monthly credit card statement. For Office
365 Enterprise, Midsize Business, and standalone plans, you have the option to receive an invoice and, depending on your choice of
services, you will be billed monthly or annually. You receive an email message when your invoice is ready to be viewed and, if a
purchase order (PO) number is entered when you buy your subscription that number is included in your invoice.
Yes, discounts are available for Office 365 enterprise agreement customers (typically 250+ licenses) who want to purchase through volume licensing. A Microsoft expert can help you explore the purchasing options for large enterprises and help you determine which is best for you. Learn more about volume licensing
. Find a Microsoft expert
You can transition your account within
service families, for example, from Office 365 Small Business to Office 365 Small Business Premium, or from Office 365 Enterprise E1 to Office 365 Enterprise E3 or E4. You cannot transition between
Office 365 service families, that is, from an Office 365 Small Business plan to Office 365 Midsize Business or an Office 365 Enterprise plan, or vice versa. In order to change from a plan in one service family to another (for example, from a Small Business plan to the Midsize Business plan, or from the Midsize Business plan to an Enterprise plan), you must first cancel your account with the plan you currently have, and then sign up for a different one.
Note on domain names when you transition or change your account:
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- When you transition your account within a service family, your domain name is transferred to your new account, whether you brought your own domain name to the Office 365 account or you set up a domain name with Office 365.
- When you change to a plan in a different service family:
- If you brought your own domain name to use with Office 365, that domain name will be available as soon as you sign up for your new subscription plan.
- If you set up a yourcompany.onmicrosoft.com domain name with your Office 365 account, you have to wait 90 – 180 days before that name is available for your new subscription plan. If someone else has taken the yourcompany.onmicrosoft.com domain name during that time, you can’t use it.
about domain names and how to transition your plan within a plan family or change your plan to a different service family.
You can mix Office 365 plans only within their respective service families. Office 365 Small Business can be combined with Office 365 Small Business Premium, for example, but not with Office 365 Midsize Business, the Office 365 Enterprise plans, or the standalone offers, such as Exchange Online. The same applies to Office 365 Midsize Business, which cannot be combined with Office 365 Small Business plans, Enterprise plans, or the standalone offers.
Customers who want the greatest flexibility can purchase Office 365 Enterprise plans, which enable you to combine the Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, and E4 plans, the Office 365 Enterprise K1 plan (for kiosk workers), and the full range of standalone offers (for example, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Lync Online).
You can cancel your subscription at any time. However, depending on the product and the type of subscription you have, there may be
a penalty for canceling before the end of your contract. For subsciptions with a month-to-month commitment there is no penalty for
cancelling your contract at any time. Subscriptions with an annual commitment may incur some penalties if canceled early.
Read the complete Microsoft Online Subscription Agreement
Your data is yours. If you decide to cancel your Office 365 subscription, you can download your data—for example, your email and
documents on team sites—and save it to another location. You should save your data before you cancel. All the data associated with
your Office 365 account is deleted 90 days after cancellation.
to change your password.
Office 365 Small Business Premium supports Windows Vista and Windows XP for most web-based functionality. However, it does not support the download and use of the latest version of Office software, and you cannot substitute Office 2010 for the latest version. You can connect your existing Office 2010 or Office 2007 software to the Office 365 service, but if you are running Windows Vista or Windows XP, you cannot install Office 365 Small Business Premium software, and you cannot replace Office 365 Small Business Premium software with a download of Office 2010.
Microsoft experts are trained IT and development companies that can help you move to Office 365 or develop custom solutions for
your business. You can find a listing of all of our Microsoft experts in Microsoft Pinpoint
Find out more