Microsoft 365 or Office 365 – which one is it!?!?

The gradual name change from Office 365 to Microsoft 365 is a bumpy road, and one that is quite confusing. Back in 2017 I actually wrote a blog post predicting that the “365” would be removed from “Office 365”. I never thought it would be the “Office” part that was actually removed.

A couple of months ago there was a conversation on Twitter about whether we call it Microsoft 365 or Office 365.

Office 365 was launched on June 28, 2011 so the name is fairly well cemented. Back around that time we also had the Xbox 360, so it wasn’t uncommon for me to hear a client refer to “Office 360”. Thankfully that device is long gone and so too has the mistaken reference.

Bundles of bundles

Around mid-2017, Microsoft 365 was introduced. Included in this mega-bundle was Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) and Windows 10. I call it a mega-bundle because Office 365 is itself a bundle, and EMS was also a bundle (including Azure Active Directory, Windows Intune (now known as Endpoint Manager), and Azure Rights Management (now known as Microsoft Information Protection).

Sound confusing!? Yeah, it’s quite a mouthful – and is for anyone who deals with the technologies on a daily basis. There are product name changes, product amalgamations and replacements, and throw in for good measure product names that are also words (yeah Windows, Office, Teams, Groups, Forms, Planner, Project, Outlook, Whiteboard, Word, Lists, we see you). Try this statement on for size: “In order to control which teams can access files in Microsoft Teams on their mobile devices, we need to implement conditional access by using Azure Active Directory, Endpoint Manager, secure the content using Microsoft Information Protection, and if it’s a personal device then we’d need to offer mobile application management without enrolment.”

Just rolls of the tongue doesn’t it?

Not all bundles are equal

In Microsoft’s marketing materials for what was traditionally Office 365, it is always referred to now as Microsoft 365. Any blog post about features talks about how they work “across all of Microsoft 365”.

But what if you’re licensed only for Office 365? Does that mean you don’t get that functionality?

From a licensing perspective, in the SMB space the Office 365 licenses have been replaced with Microsoft 365 licenses. They’re still the same license, just a new name.

In the enterprise space however, Office 365 is still Office 365, and Microsoft 365 is still Office 365 + EMS + Windows 10.

So what if you are licensed for Office 365? Do you only get Office 365 apps?

No, you apparently get Microsoft 365 Apps:

The “Office” apps

What was Office 365 ProPlus is now known as “Microsoft 365 Apps”. What then is Office 2019? Well, it’s still Office, despite having the same apps as Microsoft 365 Apps. But they’re kind of not exactly the same, as they can connect to the cloud but they’re not as powered as Microsoft 365 Apps.

I’m personally not a fan of “Microsoft 365 Apps”, because now I don’t know what to call the apps inside of Microsoft / Office 365 like Forms, Sway, To Do, and others. They’re apps, and they’re part of Microsoft 365, but they’re not part of Microsoft 365 Apps.

Let’s have a look inside of one of these Microsoft 365 Apps shall we? Here’s the product information page from the backstage area (does anyone still call it that?).

As you can see, the product is “Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise”, but why further down does it say “Office Updates”?

If we go to install Microsoft 365 Apps from the portal, it says “Install Office”:

When we select “Office 365 apps” it downloads a file called OfficeSetup.exe.

When we run the installer, it shows Office (with old logo too):

If instead however, we click on “Other install options” we are taken to the following page:

Here we are again, installing “Office apps”, that are called Microsoft 365 Apps right? If we press “Install Office”, we get taken to another page:

Still Office, but now we have even more old logos – this time for every “Office” product.

Also have you noticed the URL says “”?

If we have a look on the Google Play Store or Apple Store, we also see Microsoft Office for mobile:

And as a final kicker, think about what the suite of web-based versions of Outlook/Word/Excel/PowerPoint is called…

That’s right, it’s “Office on the web”.

Speaking of web…

Web interfaces

Let’s start at the start, our landing page for Something 365:

So the URL is, it’s branded as “Office 365”, and the page name is “Microsoft Office Home”.

Accessible by going to

Let’s say I want to jump from here to the admin interface…

Ok, so that’s called the “Microsoft 365 admin center” and uses as the URL. Let’s click the waffle menu so I can jump into an app… oh hello, it’s Office 365 again!

I want to expand this view to see the other apps in Microsoft 365, but wait… they’re “Office 365 apps”?

What about in Azure Active Directory, where we set conditional access policies?

What about Endpoint Manager? In one place it says Microsoft 365 Apps, another place it says “Policies for Office apps”.

It’s hard to see if there’s some delineation between the web admin experience being Microsoft 365 and the end user experience being Office 365. Let’s dig into some of those admin options for the Microsoft 365 Apps…

Let’s go another level so we can manage access to the “Office Store and Office 365 trials”…

Awesome, user owned apps and services uses both: “Microsoft 365 trial accounts” and “Office 365 trials”.

Surely that’s the only time both terms are used on the same page to refer to the same thing…

“Office” Add-Ins


So I’m looking at Microsoft 365 Apps, for the best apps of the year for Office 365.

And if I want to get an add-in from within Word for example:

Office Add-ins. And I can find more at the Office Store. Let’s do that shall we?

Sticking to the Office theme here as well:

However, if you click on them, you’ll be taken to (the earlier screenshot).

Speaking of URLs…


Here’s a listing of the apps and URLs they use, with the exception of those that don’t use either or, such as SharePoint, Delve, Stream, Yammer, Power Platform service, etc.).

Interface URL
Microsoft Forms
Moca (formerly Outlook Spaces)
Microsoft Teams
Microsoft To Do
Microsoft Whiteboard

Other URLs and sites

Here we are looking for Office templates, but they’re Microsoft templates, at – not (that URL doesn’t even work).

Let’s have a look at the Office support site, at, called “Office Help & Training”, but showing Microsoft 365 apps (or are they Microsoft 365 Apps?).

And if you go to the Products menu next to the term “Office support”, the URLs for each of the product pages show, but will actually redirect to, as do all of the subsites.

Some final kickers

If we look at the education area, Office 365 is still called Office 365.

If you use Microsoft Edge as your browser (not the old Edge, the new Edge), when loading a new tab you can choose to show content from…

And of course, how could I forget…

Consumer apps

Consider, what is a “Microsoft account”? Is it what you log into your Microsoft 365 service with?

No, it’s for consumer services such as Xbox, Skype, and *gulp* “Microsoft 365 Family”. These accounts were once known as Live IDs, Passport, and I can’t remember what before that.

Microsoft 365 Family itself replaces Office 365 Family and similar lines such as Personal, Home, University, etc.

But these Microsoft / Office 365 consumer versions aren’t the same as the commercial versions. The OneDrive is not the same as OneDrive for Business. The Outlook mailbox is not the same as Exchange Online. Skype is not the same as Skype for Business.

Where do we go from here?

I honestly don’t know how long this is going to take to change, but it is taking a long time.

I find it confusing, annoying, and like Matt Wade correctly asserted in this reply to the tweet at the start of this piece – I’m exasperated. And this is my job. I can only imagine how confusing it is for customers, and the end users that have to deal with it every day.

We know that Microsoft has brand police out there to slap down Joe Public if they use names or logos incorrectly, so perhaps they could be deployed internally to ensure that the software actually uses the correct version of its own name (and logos) in all the various locations.

And while they’re at it, perhaps they can get their own people to be consistent on how SharePoint is written.

Also published on Medium.

1 comment

  1. I love how much this bugged you that you went to so much detail of how awful Microsoft is in its own properties!
    I don’t think it’s confusing for “the average” person because I don’t think they care.
    I put “Microsoft 365 Apps” in my documentation (for web or desktop) and never use Office anymore but I do put a little caveat at the first mention to say they can be used interchangeably!

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