Microsoft 365: Where is Office 365 Headed?

I didn’t make Microsoft Build 2018. In hindsight, maybe I should have.

Whilst I am not a developer I do believe that as someone who uses and works with Microsoft services every day its quite important to know how Microsoft is developing those services and empowering its wider development community. After all, the goal of development is maturation and progress. It’s to do with things such as the direction we are headed, the directions that are open to us and the surmounting of obstacles blocking the direction that, for the most part, we intend to go.

So, it was really good that Microsoft now records these events for posterity and for people who, like me, can’t get there for one reason or another. These sessions are still available here

But what did Build 2018 say about the direction we are headed in terms of Office and Microsoft 365? I would draw attention to two remarks made by Satya Nadella and Joe Belfiore in the keynotes during the conference

We’re focused on two massive platform opportunities. One, Microsoft Azure, and the other Microsoft 365

Satya Nadella, Build 2018

Microsoft 365 is where the world gets its best work done. With 135 million commercial monthly active users of Office 365 and nearly 700 million Windows 10 connected devices, Microsoft 365 helps developers reach people how and where they work. We want Microsoft 365 to embrace multiple devices. We want it to be smart about letting users move from a PC to a phone. We want Microsoft 365 to embrace multi-sense use. We want it to be able to fluidly go from mouse and keyboard to touch to ink. We want to be embracing vision, new ways of working like wearing a VR display

Joe Belfiore, Build 2018

Based on these remarks there’s a very clear direction of travel – and it is easy to draw two conclusions here. The first is that Office 365 has been dethroned as the flagship offering for business productivity. From Microsoft’s perspective at least, it’s now Microsoft 365. The second is that Microsoft 365 will be the ultimate destination for organisations currently using Office 365 or Windows. There are, of course, dozens of compelling reasons to step up to Microsoft 365 from Office 365. These include the optimal performance of 365 in a Windows environment, a significantly improved ability to manage and secure applications, devices and data, a unified ecosystem and code, lower TCO through the consolidation of point solutions and the ability for reporting and analytics through Power BI and the Graph.

Yet nothing about these remarks suggest that Office 365, as we know it, may ultimately disappear completely at some point in the future, or be simply reduced to a constituent part of Microsoft 365. Today, we are currently in the middle of an amalgamation of Skype for Business and StaffHub into Microsoft Teams. But Office 365 into Microsoft 365? I certainly didn’t think very much about it at the time. As far as I was concerned, Office 365 and Microsoft 365 would continue to coexist and run parallel as they have done since Microsoft 365 was released back in 2017 even though it often generates confusion around the naming conventions. As far as I know, this is still 100% the case.

However, it was this article by Tom Warren in The Verge – Satya Nadella teases Microsoft 365 subscription for consumers that had me thinking – is this already happening for business users? I set off to find some examples

And, you know, I found some  –

1./ Office 365 Admin Centre being replaced by the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre

Source: here and here

Announced in March 2018 and released during the summer the Microsoft 365 Admin Centre (https://admin.microsoft.com) will replace the Office 365 Admin Centre. Today, tenant admins can switch and preview the new experience. Once the preview ends then tenants will be moved to new experience as standard.

2./ Office 365 Exams replaced by Microsoft 365 exams

Source: here

The following Office 365 exams will be retired in March 2019

70-346: Managing Office 365 Identities and Requirements

70-347: Enabling Office 365 Services

There will be no replacement exams titled with Office 365. The new Microsoft 365 exams are currently rolling out in Beta.

3./ Office 365 Status has been renamed Microsoft 365 Status on Twitter

Source: here

The Office 365 Service Health Status page https://status.office365.com has also been renamed the Microsoft 365 Service Health Status page

4./ Office 365 Roadmap has been renamed the Microsoft 365 Roadmap

Source: here

The Office 365 Roadmap was renamed the Microsoft 365 Roadmap in the latter half of 2018

5./ Office 365 Video has been renamed Microsoft Stream

Source: here

Office 365 Video has been transitioning to Microsoft Stream for some time. The Office 365 name has been phased out of the video service. Newer services such as Stream, Planner, To-Do and Kaizala have all come with the Microsoft name as standard

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It will be interesting to see how this develops and plays out over the course of the next year or two. Being a fully-fledged evangelist of Microsoft 365, I would advocate anyone on Office 365 to seize the opportunity and step up even if both remain in parallel for the long-term. The best experience of Office 365 is on a Modern Desktop with Windows 10. The optimal way to manage Office 365 and secure data, apps, devices and users is with Enterprise Mobility and Security. Microsoft 365 allows businesses to go 100% cloud without the fiscal and management overhead of any on-premise hardware. And many Business’ are already doing this today – all of their on premise hardware and applications, even their local active directories. Gone.

Yet if Office 365 does ultimately end up as Microsoft 365 what will happen from a brand perspective? This is much harder to tell. Since it was first introduced in 2011, Office 365 has been a phenomenon in the public cloud with over 155 million users and showing no sign of slowing down. It is an incredibly strong brand and I imagine that some may feel that changing that, or diluting that down, would be a risky path to take. Yet Microsoft have done it before. Before Office 365 there was BPOS. It came out stronger. Much stronger. If brand’s are determined on the quality of the product then Microsoft 365 should do incredibly well given that it’s on an entirely different level.

But whatever happens in the future – whether Office and Microsoft or just Microsoft, the 365 name remains and is the constant – and there’s no doubt it will truly be as good as it has ever been.

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