Microsoft 365 / Office 365 busting (or not) some myths

It’s time to collect some feedback and questions from Office Watchers for a little Microsoft Office 365 myth busting, or not.

Even after eight years of ‘subscription’ or annual payment Microsoft Office there are still misunderstandings about some parts of how modern Office works and how ‘subscription’ Microsoft 365 software is different from the traditional single payment Office software (like Office 2021).

Microsoft can take some blame for customer confusion with their changes of name and policies over time.

One enduring point of confusion is ‘Microsoft 365’ versus ‘Office 365’ that can be directly blamed on Microsoft’s marketing changes.

Microsoft 365 prices could increase

YES, absolutely. There’s no price guarantee for Microsoft 365 plans. The company could change the pricing at any time and already has.  For example, Microsoft has increased the price of consumer plans in some countries like India (twice) and Australia.

Price comparisons between ‘fixed price’ Office 2019 or Office 2021 and Microsoft 365 are sometimes made.  $350 for Microsoft 365 Personal plan over five years (US$70 x 5) versus Office 2021 Professional for $440.

That assumes Microsoft 365 won’t change price in the future. Also, the two products are very different in features and services, making the comparison almost meaningless.

Microsoft 365 features or benefits might decrease or be dropped

Again YES, one benefit for Microsoft of the ‘subscription’ system is the greater control it gives the company over what they offer customers and when.

They’ve already done that when the ‘unlimited’ OneDrive quota was shrunk back to 1 Terabyte.  Their flimsy excuse at the time tried to hide their other motives.

As Office Watch said back in 2017:

“… one reason why Microsoft wants customers on a ‘subscription’ model. They can raise prices (or change the product features) whenever they like.  The cloud integration of Microsoft Office makes it harder for customers to switch away from the software.”

Office 365 / Microsoft 365 needs Internet to work

It’s a common misunderstanding that Microsoft Office 365 somehow runs on or needs ‘the cloud’ to work – it definitely does NOT.  Some people call it the ‘online’ version of Office.

The core Office software is installed and runs on a computer you have (not from cloud servers) and works offline. Documents can be saved on the computer and used offline.  Even cloud stored documents can be synced with a computer then used offline at any time.

Some cloud services (Microsoft calls them ‘Connected Services’) only work with an Internet connection but that doesn’t prevent most of Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook from working.

Microsoft pushes their cloud services (especially OneDrive) a lot, possibly too much because it’s led to the false notion that an Internet connection is essential — it’s not.

Our well-travelled boss, Peter Deegan, has used Microsoft Office 365 in many places with no or very slow Internet connections like well inside the Arctic Circle, middle of the Pacific Ocean and 30,000+ feet in the air.

Office Watch has long recommended that people keep offline synced copies of their mailbox and documents so they can continue to work through occasional outages (either problems at Microsoft or Internet connections).

Microsoft 365 Family plan owners can see all documents

NOT true at all. Each users’ files are private to them unless they choose to share.

Each Family plan user has their own Microsoft account and OneDrive quota which isn’t available to the admin or other Family plan users. Technically, each user has their own Microsoft account and their data is covered by that login.

The Admin or Owner of a Microsoft 365 Family plan can only control which people have access to the Office 365 software and services. But the Admin/Owner can’t see the content that they make or use.

The misunderstanding might arise because in Business plans, the organizations admins can have access to the OneDrive documents used by staff.  But that does not apply to the consumer Family plan.

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