From today, Wednesday, April 22, Office 365 is set to become Microsoft 365. While this transformation is more than just a name change, you can rest assured that all of your favourite features and applications are still there, and they’re all called the same things; the switch to Microsoft 365 is about augmenting and improving those products you depend on with new technologies and for greater efficiency. This is like an update of your favourite car: it’ll still get you exactly where you need to go, but there’s a better engine and a range of swanky new features.
New highlights in Microsoft 365
There’s a huge number of new features being added to the Microsoft 365 ecosystem – you can find more information on them right here – but here’s a quick rundown of the most notable:
Microsoft Editor will help fix any writing boo-boos. Most people will be familiar with the grammar-and-spelling checks plus the automatic typo fixer that appear across Office products. Microsoft Editor is a new app that uses AI to take things to the next level. For those who struggle with text, it now checks all elements of your writing and makes suggestions regarding things like formality, hard-to-decipher acronyms, inclusiveness, sensitive geopolitical references, clarity and conciseness. You can highlight sentences and ask for rewrite suggestions. There’s even a plagiarism checker to help ensure that citations are properly included. It’s like having your own private, professional editor.
Become a better presenter in PowerPoint. Public speaking does not come naturally to everybody and not everyone has access to expensive courses to learn how to eliminate common issues from their speech. PowerPoint’s AI-based Presenter Coach will listen to you rehearse your presentation and flag whether you’re talking too fast, saying “umm” too much and even speaking in a (boring) monotone voice! Coach will also include grammar suggestions for articulating concepts more concisely.
New AI-assisted design tools. So, you’ve written a report and it looks boring, but it needs to look impressive. Now, thanks to PowerPoint Designer, a single click will transform your document into a beautifully designed layout – there are over 200 templates to choose from, which can be used directly from Word, Excel or PowerPoint. These include exclusive access to over 8,000 photos and looping videos from Getty Images, 2,800 new icons and 300 new fonts.
Built-in video conferencing. With so much of the world currently in lockdown, demand has skyrocketed for both work-oriented video meetings and also video catch-ups with family and friends. Skype’s Meet Now feature allows you to video call multiple friends without them having to download any software. Meanwhile, Teams will soon open up to allow you to manage meet-ups with friends and family in the same place (and with the same powerful features) that you’d use when organising work meetings.
Family comes first. New family safety features allow you to monitor how much screen time your kids are spending on different digital activities (including gaming and browsing the web) on different devices. You can now easily set limits and steer them away from inappropriate content.
What else is new in Microsoft 365?
There are, of course, many other new facets to Microsoft 365. That includes improvements like household accounting features now being built into Excel, which integrates advanced technology from leading fintech provider Plaid. Elsewhere, personal and work calendars can now be linked together in Outlook, Microsoft’s AI assistant Cortana can intelligently read out your emails on Android phones during your commute and Microsoft Search now recognises natural speech on iOS. For online storage, OneDrive now offers a secure Personal Vault for your most sensitive files.
How much does Microsoft 365 cost?
You’re probably wondering what the switch from Office 365 to Microsoft 365 means for pricing. The good news is that it’s not changing: as with Office 365, there are several simple-to-navigate Microsoft 365 plans that cater to people’s different needs and budgets, and you can choose either a monthly or yearly subscription. Microsoft 365 Personal includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook (plus Publisher and Access if you’re on PC) along with Skype and 1TB of OneDrive storage services – across all of your devices – from just AU$8 per month. Microsoft 365 Family provides the same range of apps, services and individual storage as the Personal edition, but can cover up to six users and costs from just AU$11 per month.
Meanwhile, Microsoft 365 Business Basic offers web and mobile versions Word, Excel and PowerPoint plus Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams services for AU$6.90 a month per user. Microsoft 365 Business Standard offers full desktop and mobile versions of all Office apps and services for AU$17.20 per user, per month. Finally, Microsoft 365 Apps for Business offers the full versions of all Office apps plus the OneDrive service for AU$12 per user, per month.
New name, improved functionality
With so many individual, family, social, work and enterprise uses for the same suite of software and services – which are now spread across multiple platforms like Windows, macOS, iOS and Android devices – Microsoft’s making the sensible move to unify its productivity solutions under one brand. Whatever your requirements when co-authoring, video-chatting, organising, collaborating or working individually, you’ll find new benefits in the new Microsoft 365 ecosystem, while knowing that the reliable stalwarts are all still there. And thanks to a new time-limited introductory offer, you can try everything the new service has to offer right now for just AU$1 for the first month!
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