Microsoft 365 – Features, Tips, Tricks, and Pricing
Last Updated on May 4, 2021 by Travis Kipp
So you bought Microsoft 365, either on your own through Microsoft or through a Partner, like us. You probably needed Microsoft Word, or Excel, and you bought this product. But what all did you get for your money? In this article, we’re going to go over what packages Microsoft has, what’s included in those packages, and how to use some of the cool new software you just gained access to!
Let’s start with options. Maybe you haven’t purchased yet, and you need to know what’s available. There are lots of options for flexibility but that also means it can get a bit confusing.
Business Basic is well, basic. You don’t get access to the desktop versions of the apps. Instead you must use the web version. The web versions are quite convenient, however, they are limited in their feature set. That’s not to say the web versions of the apps are useless, though. They support all the common functionality of their respective apps. The included web apps are Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The other included services are Teams, Exchange, OneDrive, and SharePoint.
Business Standard will allow you to install Microsoft Office on up to 5 devices per license. These licenses run $99 a year, and let you install those good old trusty apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Outlook. This license will also get you Exchange email, Teams, SharePoint, and 1TB of OneDrive storage.
Business Premium includes everything that Business Standard does, but it also includes Intune and Azure Information Protection. Intune is Active Directory in the cloud and allows for mobile device management for your company. Azure Information Protection allows for encrypted emails and legal holds on your data in the event of possible internal tampering. This plan will run $20.00 a month per user.
Prices for each plan many vary. Be sure to check out Microsoft’s Comparison page for updated pricing.
Microsoft 365 Apps
Microsoft 365 Apps just includes the desktop Office applications with OneDrive. Email and Teams are not included. This option may suit a small business well that only wants access to the desktop Office apps and have their own email. At the time of writing, this plan will run $8.25 a user per month.
SharePoint is really neat. In fact, we are using SharePoint right now to collaborate on this blog post. It allows you to work on documents with more than one person simultaneously. You can even see where there cursor is and see each keystroke update in real time. You can think of it as business collaboration. It uses OneDrive to store files.
OneDrive is their file storage service. Most plans include 1TB of cloud storage for easy storage and sharing. If you use the web applications of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint OneDrive deeply integrates with these. It’s were all those files are stored. You can of course store other files as well.
Word is a classic program. It allows you to edit text documents. It supports lots of features now days from charts and tables to a new spellchecking and grammar feature called Editor. Some of the lesser known features include a bibliography generator. You can even perform research while working on a research paper. Another feature is the ability to dictate with your voice. Imagine being able to write a thesis without needing to use your keyboard.
Excel is a powerful spreadsheet program. It’s capable of all kinds of functions from basic addition to complex if then trees. It can be used simply to organize information or perform complex calculations. Your data can be shown beautifully in graphs and charts as well. One of my favorite features is auto fill. Lets say you are making a list of dates. All you need to do is enter the first date and at the lower right corner of the cell, click and drag the little square down and Excel will automagically fill in the dates.
PowerPoint gets its origins from slide projectors. The first version came out in the late 80’s. It has evolved over the years and is considered to be a staple in presentations. PowerPoint lets you organize your thoughts while giving your audience a learning aid. It’s broken down into slides and each slide contains content. Weather that’s text, graphics, or images. It’s recommended to keep clutter to a minimum and use bulleted lists. The slides are an aid, not a report. With that said, there are lots of neat tricks to keep things interesting. PowerPoint is notorious for fancy slide transitions as well as animated elements. Weather you are doing a presentation for school or work, PowerPoint is a must have tool.
Access is not as well-known as the others. It’s a database management program which, as you’ve probably guessed, allows you to work with databases. If you have a large data set, creating a database can be extremely beneficial. Access allows you to easily create tables and perform query’s on your data. You can, of course, have multiple tables all representing different data sets. Then you can use a query to pull information from each table possibly allowing you to find correlations between those datasets. Another useful feature is the creation of Forms. These let you enter information into the database in an easy way. This is beneficial to use with someone who is not familiar with Access while allowing them to input new information into the database. Unfortunately, Access does not have a version on the web to utilize on the go.
Publisher allows you to create brochures, cards, and everything in-between. It initially looks similar to Word but it focusses on graphics and the ability to move and align them correctly. Publisher is a great tool for smaller businesses to create marketing material. It allows people who are not verse in this area to create presentable material. Publish does not have a web version available.
Outlook is a popular email client. You don’t have to use it with just Exchange. It can be used with any email service like Yahoo and Gmail. Most companies prefer to use Outlook over other email clients as very few remain supported. It supports all the standard protocols such as POP and IMAP. Useful features include creating rules for email right within the application. For instance, if you wanted all email from a specific address to go into one folder, you could do that. This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, rules can be as simple or as complex as needed. Let Outlook work for you rather than spending time organizing your email.
Microsoft Teams is a relatively new service. Teams allows you to chat and conference call with people in your organization. The chat feature is a one-on-one conversation while the Teams feature is more of a public forum in which anyone invited can post conversations. This allows you to easily separate specific conversations. For instance, you could have a Team about sales and another about inventory. This helps members stay on topic and organize messages rather than having a massive email chain with everyone involved. Teams integrates well with Exchange services, or in other words, your email. Creating a new meeting allows you to invite people from in your organization, send them an email reminder, and add the meeting to your calendar.
Exchange is Microsoft 365’s email service. Every business should have a professional business email. Using email@example.com looks silly. You want to use your company’s domain. Doing so makes your business look more professional. Exchange allows for easy management of other users while offering a familiar email experience. Each user gets 50GB to use for email storage.
The Admin Center
Microsoft 365 allows for easy management of all your users. This is where all the magic happens. You can easily add new users, change passwords, change a license, and so much more. The Admin Center allows for easy access to manage Exchange, SharePoint, and Teams. Want to give a user access to another user’s email, no problem. That can be accomplished in the Exchange management. Want to see what your employees are up to on Teams? Open the Teams admin center, go to Analytics & reports and then Usage reports. From there you can generate a report on user activity and see message statistics for each user.
Weather you are a one person business or one with thousands of employees, Microsoft 365 has a solution for you. Big businesses should use either Business Standard or Business Premium. That way your employees have access to the desktop Office applications and you can easily add and remove employees. If you are a free lancer and don’t need an email address, the Microsoft 365 Apps are a good choice.