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 OneDrive 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 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 Business plans are best for companies with one to 300 users.
- Office 365 Enterprise plans fit organizations ranging in size from a single employee to 50,000-plus users.
Office provides the following apps:
Office for iPad®: View, create and edit documents with touch-friendly Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps. You can count on Office for iPad to keep your content and formatting intact so the document looks great when you’re back on your PC or Mac. In Word, add comments or track changes while you work together with others. Review and update Excel spreadsheets and easily add formulas or charts. Make changes to PowerPoint presentations and project them wirelessly on a big screen.
You can view documents for free with Office for iPad. Editing and creating documents requires an eligible Office 365 subscription: Office 365 Home, Office 365 Personal, Office 365 University, Office 365 Business, Office 365 Business Premium, Office 365 Enterprise, Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E4 (Government Pricing), Office 365 Government E3 and E4, Office 365 Education E3 and E4 for Students, Office 365 Education E3 and E4 for Faculty, Office 365 ProPlus, or Office 365 University.
Office Mobile: Office Mobile is preinstalled on Windows Phone 8 and is available for select models of iPhone® and Android phones. Office Mobile offers great Office content viewing and on-the-go content editing capabilities. And you can count on Office Mobile to keep your content and formatting intact so the document still looks great when you’re back on your PC or Mac. Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones can be used for free for non-commercial use, simply download the app from the store on your phone.
In order to edit or create documents or to access documents stored in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business on premises, you must have a qualifying Office 365 plan: Office 365 Business, Office 365 Business Premium, Office 365 Enterprise, Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E4 (Government Pricing), Office 365 Government E3 and E4, Office 365 Education E3 and E4 for Students, Office 365 Education E3 and E4 for Faculty, Office 365 ProPlus, and Office 365 University.
- Outlook Mobile: Windows Phone 8 includes a pre-installed version of Outlook that you can use to access your Outlook.com, Office 365, or Exchange email.
- OneNote: You can use the mobile OneNote app to access your notes while on the go. This app is available on Windows Phone 8, iPhone, iPad, and Android phones.
- OWA: If you have an Office 365 subscription that includes Exchange Online, you can use the OWA app to sort, scan, and respond to email, and stay on top of your schedule. This app is available on iPhone and iPad.
- Lync Mobile: If your organization uses the newest version of Lync, you can use the mobile Lync app to stay connected while on your mobile device. This app is available on Windows Phone 8, iPhone, iPad, and Android phones.
- SharePoint Newsfeed: If your organization uses the newest version of SharePoint, you can use the SharePoint Newsfeed app to access your newsfeed from your mobile device. This app is available on Windows Phone 8, iPhone, and iPad.
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.
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, Office 365 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.
To provide customers with the greatest amount of flexibility, different payment options are available.
Office 365 Business, Business Essentials, and Business Premium plans are available for monthly commitment payment or annual commitment payment.
- Monthly commitment payment: You pay month by month, and you can cancel at any time.
- Annual commitment payment: You sign up for a one-year subscription, but you can choose to pay month to month or pay for the entire year at the time you sign up. There is a discount for using this payment option.
The Office 365 Enterprise plans (including standalone Enterprise plans such as Exchange Online) and Office 365 ProPlus are available for annual commitment payment.
- Annual commitment payment: You sign up for a one-year subscription, but you can choose to pay month to month or pay for the entire year at the time you sign up.
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
Yes. If you need to upgrade, you can transition your account to a different plan. For example, you can upgrade from
an Office 365 Business plan to an Office 365 Enterprise plan.
In most cases, you can use the Switch plans wizard in your Admin center to upgrade your plan.
If your subscription has more than 300 users or if you used a prepaid card to purchase your plan, the Switch plans wizard is not available.
Plans that are not eligible for the Switch plans wizard can be upgraded manually.
Learn more about upgrading Office 365 plans.
NOTE: When you upgrade your account, 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.
Yes, you can mix and match Office 365 plans. However, there are some product and license limitations. For example, if you have an Office 365 Business Premium plan, which has a limit of 300 users, you can combine it with an Office 365 Enterprise E3 plan, but only for up to 300 people in your organization. For details, talk to your Microsoft representative.
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 subscriptions with a monthly commitment payment, there is no penalty for canceling your contract at any time. Annual commitment subscriptions that are paid month to month may incur some penalties if canceled early. Annual commitment subscriptions that are paid up front do not receive a refund if canceled prior to the full contract period. 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. After you cancel your
subscription, data associated with your Office 365 account will be available to your administrator(s) in a limited function account for 90 days.
to change your password.
Office 365 Business, Business Essentials, and Business Premium support Windows Vista and Windows XP for most web-based functionality. However, they do 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 Business, Business Essentials, and Business Premium software, and you cannot replace Office 365 Business, Business Essentials, or 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
Office 365 Small Business has been renamed Office 365 Business Essentials. Office 365 Business Essentials includes all the features of the Office 365 Small Business plan, plus additions and improvements. For example, Active Directory has been added to Office 365 Business Essentials and the maximum number of users has been increased from 25 to 300.
The Office 365 Small Business Premium and Office 365 Midsize Business plans have been replaced by one new plan, called “Office 365 Business Premium.” Office 365 Business Premium combines the best features and services into one plan, with a maximum number of users of 300.
Office 365 Nonprofit FAQ
Information, offers, and sign-up instructions
Designed to help nonprofits and NGOs do more good, this global offering provides eligible customers with access to
Office 365, Microsoft’s best-in-class cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools. Nonprofits can learn more,
check their eligibility, and apply for a donation by visiting
Yammer is included in the Nonprofit E1 and E3 offers but not the Nonprofit Business Essentials and Business Premium offers. All of the features and software services included in the Enterprise and Business offers are also in the Nonprofit offers, with the exception of dual access rights.
Follow these steps:
- Go to the Office 365 Nonprofit page.
- Click the link Get started toward a donation with a FREE trial.
- Click the Office 365 Nonprofit E3 FREE trial green button.
- Set up your account and verify that you are affiliated with your nonprofit organization.
- Trial sign up collects the information needed to kick off the validation of your organization as an eligible nonprofit. See the Eligibility and validation section of the Office 365 Nonprofit FAQ.
- During the trial, go to the License Management tab in the admin portal to assign up to 25 users.
- You will receive an email confirming or denying your eligibility as a qualifying nonprofit.
If you are nearing the end of your 30-day trial and have not received your eligibility verification notice from Office 365, please contact customer support.
- If eligibility is confirmed, Office 365 Nonprofit offers will become available in the Office 365 admin portal.
- Go to the License Management tab in the admin portal to reassign your trial users to any of the Office 365 Nonprofit offers, including the donated E1 and Business Essentials offers. You may assign additional users to the Nonprofit offers as well.
You will not be automatically billed for the trial offer after the free trial expires. If you take no action after your
trial expires, you will simply lose access to Office 365, with an additional 30 days to take action before your account
information is erased. Customers who have not received a validation decision by the time the free trial expires may
call customer support
the trial. Once your organization is validated as an eligible nonprofit, you will have the option to reassign your
users to any of the Office 365 Nonprofit offers, including the donated E1 and Business Essentials offers.
Some Office 365 plans are not included in the Office 365 Nonprofit program. Once an organization has a nonprofit tenant,
it is not possible to acquire those plans. In the case of standalone plans, however, those features or workloads are
usually included in one of the Office 365 Nonprofit program’s offers, such as the donated Office 365 Nonprofit E1 offer
or the discounted Office 365 Nonprofit E3 offer. We may expand the Office 365 Nonprofit offer in the future but have no
plans to do so at this time.
No. A customer that has become eligible for Office 365 Nonprofit offers can purchase only Office 365 Nonprofit offers going forward.
Nonprofit customers should use the standard support channel for Office 365. Details on Office 365 support options are available here
Eligibility and validation
Eligible organizations: Nonprofits and non-governmental organizations must be recognized as charitable organizations in their respective countries in order to be eligible for Microsoft Nonprofit Programs. Eligible organizations must also operate on a not-for-profit basis and have a mission to benefit the local community, which could include but is not limited to:
- Providing relief to the poor.
- Advancing education.
- Improving social welfare.
- Preserving culture.
- Preserving or restoring the environment.
- Promoting human rights.
- Establishing civil society.
For a detailed explanation of eligibility criteria and links to country-specific eligibility criteria, visit the Corporate Citizenship Eligibility page.
To be validated as an eligible nonprofit, you must sign up for the Nonprofit E3 trial offer or the Nonprofit Business
Premium trial offer and provide the organization’s basic information to kick start the validation process. Signing up
for the trial does not commit you to a paid offer. Eligible organizations must hold recognized charitable status as
defined in their countries in order to be eligible. Eligible organizations must operate on a not-for-profit basis and
have a mission to benefit the local community. If an organization is not eligible for Office 365 as a donation, it may
be eligible for other services depending on its legal status and mission. For a detailed explanation of eligibility
criteria, visit the Corporate Citizenship Eligibility page
Microsoft works with its software donation partner TechSoup Global to determine if a nonprofit fits its broad
eligibility requirements. In many cases, the response time is instantaneous once a nonprofit applies for a donation.
In other cases where a nonprofit’s status needs to be verified, it shouldn’t take more than three to seven days,
provided the nonprofit is responsive to any requests for information, but it can take up to 20 days. Required
documentation may include the certification or registration provided the nonprofit’s governing body. For example, in
the U.S. we require a copy of the IRS 501(c)(3) determination letter.
If you are nearing the end of your 30-day trial and have not received your eligibility verification notice from Office 365, please contact customer support
Organizations need to be re-evaluated for nonprofit eligibility every two years. We will be defining how this process is enforced and facilitated in the coming months.
Office 365 Nonprofit is intended primarily for employees of eligible nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit members or
beneficiaries are NOT eligible for Office 365 Nonprofit licensing. Nonprofits may license volunteers that have
significant fiduciary or managerial responsibilities for the organization, such as members of the Board of Directors. A
volunteer of an eligible nonprofit organization can receive a license for Office 365 ONLY if they meet ALL THREE of the
- The volunteer is accountable for specific activities and results within the nonprofit organization that are defined by a written volunteer position description.
- The volunteer’s role with the nonprofit is a year-round ongoing role or is a seasonal or part-time role that reoccurs annually.
- The volunteer will not use Office 365 for personal uses that result in income to the person who is volunteering.
Commercial customers wishing to transition to a nonprofit offer should speak with customer support to understand the options available to them and ensure a smooth transition. Users that have commercial licenses that become approved for nonprofit offers will still retain their commercial licenses. However, after they have been approved for nonprofit eligibility, they may purchase only nonprofit offers going forward. Existing customers may locate their support contact information here
Customers who signed up under the Office 365 Nonprofit Pilot program do not need to take any action, assuming they activated their subscription prior to the September 10 launch date. If a customer was approved for Office 365 Nonprofit offers during the Pilot but has not yet activated the subscription, the customer will need to sign up for a new Office 365 Nonprofit E3 trial on Office.com
to restart the validation process. Our vendor managing validation has been given a list of customers that fall into this category so that their validation can be expedited.
Users that have commercial licenses that become approved for nonprofit offers will still retain their commercial licenses. However, after they have been approved for nonprofit eligibility, they may purchase only nonprofit offers going forward.
Customers in this category should now have the Office 365 Nonprofit E1 offer visible to them in their Office 365 admin portals, with the ability to transfer users to the offer from the License Management tab. Religious organizations who have been paying for an Office 365 Nonprofit E3 subscription may be eligible for a credit for the unused portion of the subscription, subject to Microsoft credit policy.
Find out more