If you have heard people hailing Office 365 as the “next big thing” or “the software of the future,” chances are you have given some thought about switching over to Microsoft's popular productivity suite. While it is indeed a revolutionary concept in the world of computing and operating systems, there are a few things you should understand before you switch or upgrade to the latest offering from the house of Microsoft.
1. It's a cloud-based application
Cloud-based computing allows you to access your files, data, and documents from any computer, anywhere, as long as you are connected to the Internet. You can work on any of the MS Office applications from your PC, Mac, Android, or Windows device. If you opt for Office 365 you can simply log into your Microsoft account and install a 32-bit version or a 64-bit version of Office on your device using the custom installation options. But like all cloud-based applications, be aware there are pros and cons.
2. The facets of Office
Web Apps is the latest online, browser-based version of Office, which allows you to create, edit, and save documents on Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Business subscription plan holders can readily use Web Apps while education-based subscribers can use Web Apps on OneDrive.
3. Why should you get it?
The very fact that it can be accessed from anywhere and any device is reason enough for many business owners or Office users to migrate to Office 365. The new web-based apps like Skype for Business and Delve keep you connected to your data 24/7. While Skype for Business is a platform to conduct conference calls, Delve highlights all key information (based on relevance) from social media feeds and emails within Office 365. And there are several other features that may be useful to you.
4. Hardware requirements
You should have computers that run Windows 7, 8, or 10 or Mac OS X10.6 or advanced to be able to seamlessly use Office 365. Any web browser including and beyond Internet Explorer 9, Safari 5, Chrome 18 or Firefox 12 can support Office 365. A minimum of 1 GHz processor with a 32-bit 1GB or 64-bit 2GB RAM and at least 3GB of disk space is required to download and install the Office suite. While the software may run on hardware specifications below those mentioned, performance will be affected.
5. How secure is it?
Office 365 offers the same level of security on the cloud as it does when the software is installed physically on your computers. The same Trust Center and the same set of Rights Management Services are used in the cloud suite. Office 365 uses multifactor authentication inclusive of biometric scanner for all datacenter access. The internal datacenter is separated from all external networks. All faulty drivers are demagnetized and destroyed. All data you upload to the servers are encrypted in transit with SSL/TLS. Security monitoring, file/data integrity and threat management detect any sort of threat to online data. Users can send and receive encrypted mails. S/MIME ensures message security based on certificate-dependent email access. No files can be accessed without the designated user credentials by virtue of Azure Rights Management. All in all, the Office 365 Advanced Security Management provides better control and visibility of your Office 365 environment.
6. What does it cost?
You are required to pay subscription charges for Office 365 suite depending on the number of users and size of your business. A single user (Office 365 Home) requires a subscription of $99.99 per year; Office 365 Personal costs $69.99 per year; Office 365 University is $79.99 for a four-year subscription; Office 365 Business costs $8.25 per user per month while the premium version is $12.50 per user per month. The services offered by each plan vary according to individual and organizational requirements.
7. Transferring content from other platforms
Unless you are starting an entirely new setup, you will have to move content from an already existing platform to Office 365, and this can get messy. Consider whether you need the entire bulk of your content and if not, choose carefully what you want to shift and keep using to make the process smooth.
8. Backup facilities on Office 365
With all your data on the cloud, you need to take some measures to ensure you have backups. While Microsoft does have its own checks and balances in place, and a 24/7 on-call support, you will probably still require the services of third-party backup providers. To reduce the chances of data loss, Office 365 builds redundancy at the data level by replicating data across geographically segregated datacenters. The presence of multiple copies of the same data ensures faster recovery and prevents permanent data failures.
9. Streamlining Office 365 usage
When moving to Office 365, you will need to decide on how much information you want there, because your employees or family members will have a lot of content stored on physical locations. Careful selection and winnowing of data to be uploaded on the cloud would reduce the hassle of data integration and data reiteration.
10. Perks of Office 365
Office 365 offers you more than just cloud services. A subscription comes loaded with 1 TB of free storage on Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud service, free website hosting along with necessary tools, and 60 free Skype minutes to make calls to landline telephones every month.
Office 365 is a good example of where cloud computing and storage are heading. With cloud computing rapidly becoming a crucial part of many enterprises’ tech strategy, many businesses are switching to Office 365 for a variety of reasons.
Photo credit: Microsoft