We’ve all been there – just as you get used to a piece of software or package, manufacturers start making changes. Even IT support professionals know that hassle! A change is as good as a rest, however – especially when it means that you’re going to benefit in the long term.

Microsoft, as one of the biggest names in home, work, and productivity, is announcing some major changes of its own. What’s more, they are going to apply them to some of their most popular and enduring suites and programs.

Office 365 remains a hugely important suite of programs for businesses of varying sizes. It’s a big support for the sole trader and the entrepreneur, but even the biggest companies rely on good old Word, Excel, Access and more besides. However, the changes that the Big M are bringing in – as of 21 April 2020 – are going to impact small to medium companies most of all. But what’s exactly going to happen – and why should you keep your eyes peeled? Is this the end of Office 365 support as we know it?


What’s Actually Changing?

The main changes Microsoft are bringing in will impact the names of the Services and programs you download and use. They will be bringing in the name ‘Microsoft 365’ to replace much of the longer-titled services and suites for SMEs and smaller firms.

For example, Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus are going to become the same product – under Microsoft 365 Apps. Anyone using Office 365 Business Essentials will now need to get used to Microsoft 365 Business Basic, while Business Premium customers will move onto Microsoft 365 Business Standard.

Not to make things any more confusing, but the firm will also roll Microsoft 365 Business into Microsoft 365 Business Premium. Got all of that?

By the time you read this, the changes will already be in place. They came into effect as of the 21st of April – so now you know!

Will the Pricing Change?

No – at least not at this stage. While Microsoft may change their pricing in future, the name changes and refining of suites isn’t going to cost you anything extra. Therefore, you won’t have the added hassle of needing to fork out extra money for the sake of a quick change-around.

What About Functionality?

No big, sweeping changes are going to take place in the functions department, either. The apps and programs are going to work just as they always will – meaning that there’s going to be no need for you to line up new training packages for your team in the weeks to come. Thankfully, Microsoft 365 is likely to remain much the same for the foreseeable.

However, it’s worth noting that Microsoft is going to sneak in a few little extras here and there. Don’t worry, as these really won’t impact your productivity or ease of use. If anything, they are going to make your life that little bit easier – perhaps.

For example, the Microsoft Editor system is already rolling out across updating programs everywhere. Already use Grammarly or Hemingway? Then you’ll likely already be doing everything Editor sets out for you. It’s said to be a smarter way to hone and edit your writing as you go. That, at least, might mean the end of those really annoying ‘sentence fragment’ warnings.

There’s also a nice update to PowerPoint available, in the form of Presenter Coach. This little upgrade will actually help you to refine your public speaking manner, meaning that it’ll tell you if you need to vary your tone, or if you’re talking too slow. The technology really has come a long way since PowerPoint presentations were all fancy ‘whoosh’ sound effects and Word Art!

How Will This Affect Me?

Honestly? It may not be that big a change for the way you run your business. Microsoft is calling the changes part of a bigger ‘evolution’. That, to us, means they’re simply refining their packages and their branding. The way the suites and programs work isn’t going to change – apart from that they might actually get even easier to use in time to come.

Do, however, make sure you always check terms of use and conditions. These are subject to change occasionally, and you’re going to need to agree to them.

It’s likely that business users who keep a close eye on the service, as well as new buyers, are likely to be most affected. However, it makes sense to clue up on the new names now to avoid confusion!

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