Office 365 is the future of the Microsoft Office suite. Yes, you can still buy standalone licenses in shops and online, but they’re no longer a cost effective solution.
Even though Microsoft clearly wants everyone to make the jump to the subscription version, it hasn’t done a great job of educating people about what it entails. There is a lot of misinformation out there — it can be confusing for those who aren’t tech-savvy.
The problem is now so acute that Microsoft has recently published an ebook to dispel some of the myths about Office 365. In this article, I’m going to take a closer look at some of those myths, add a couple more you need to be aware of, and explain why you shouldn’t be worried about making the switch.
Myth 1: Office 365 Can Only Be Used Online
This is probably the most prevalent of all the Office 365 myths, and it’s easy to understand why it began.
Microsoft refers to its Office 365 apps as “cloud-based”. Although it’s technically true, the term “cloud” typically makes people think of online-only services like Google Drive or Salesforce. In reality, all the apps are downloaded from the web and installed on your local machine.
But there is a small catch: you’ll need to go online at least once every 30 days to let the software “phone home”. Failure to do so will leave you with reduced functionality.
The online-only version of the suite, Office Online, is free to all users.
Myth 2: Using Office 365 Is a Security Risk
Office 365 is tightly integrated with OneDrive. You can save your documents on your own computer, but Microsoft tries very hard to convince you otherwise. That concerns a lot of people.
We live in an age of data hacks and cyber-criminals. Barely a week goes by without hearing news of a social media provider getting its passwords stolen or a retail outlet losing its customers’ details.
Is it concerning? Yes. But should you be worried? No. Your home computer is far more vulnerable than a tech giant’s servers.
Think about it. What security do you have in place at home? At best, the vast majority of you will have a free antivirus, only a tiny percentage of users pay for a premium security suite. Lots of people don’t even use a router in their internet setup!
Microsoft has a full-time team working to keep you safe and they stay abreast of just about every regulation and compliance law you can think of.
Myth 3: Microsoft Shares Data With the Government
There’s an oft-repeated trope that says services like Microsoft and Google own any data that you put on their servers. Even worse, some people genuinely believe that they’re watching your every move, meticulously reading your email to granny and looking for signs you might be about to drop a bomb on Canada.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Microsoft is explicit in their approach to data ownership and usage. Here’s a quote from their website:
Microsoft does not mine your data for advertising or for any purpose other than providing you services that you have paid for … If you ever choose to leave Office 365, you take your data with you.
Furthermore, Microsoft is the first major cloud service provider to adopt the international standard for cloud privacy. It has five key principles:
- You are in control of your data.
- You know what’s happening with your data.
- Microsoft provides strong security protection for your data.
- Your data won’t be used for advertising.
- Microsoft encourages government inquiry to be made directly to you unless legally prohibited. They will challenge attempts to prohibit disclosure in court.
Myth 4: Office 365 Lags Behind Competitors
There are a few competitors to Office 365. Perhaps the most well-known among home users is Google’s suite of products.
Make no mistake, Google’s service is fantastic. It’s free, easy to use, and more than adequate for a lot of basic tasks. But Google also benefits from a reputation of being innovative — people automatically think that everything they produce is on the cutting edge.
In reality, the Microsoft offering has a lot more features, a lot more apps, and a lot more development going into it. After all, the Office line of products is Microsoft’s biggest money-maker — they have to stay ahead of the competition.
If you’re still not convinced, take a look the development roadmap for Office 365. It’s impressive seeing how fast new functionality is announced and then released.
Myth 5: It’s Unpopular and No One Else Is Using It
For a lot of people, the idea of spending money on a service like Office 365 is still hard to grasp. They don’t think anyone else is doing it, and they’re not willing to make the jump.
The figures tell a different story. Office 365 has only just celebrated its fifth birthday, but in that time it’s gone from nothing to 80 million paid subscriptions. The term “paid subscriptions” is an important one — each home user can share their single subscription with up to four other users. The total number of people using Office 365 is actually a lot, lot higher.
What’s Stopping You?
If you still haven’t made the jump from regular Office to Office 365, consider this: Office 365 Home is $99.99 per year for five users. The service is updated constantly so you’ll always have the latest software available. In contrast, Office Home & Student 2016 is $149.99 for one PC and you will not get any free upgrades.
If you’re still unsure about whether to invest in Office 365, I’d love to know why. Is it too expensive? Are there still some myths that concern you? Are you happy with Google’s free offering?
Get in touch with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.