At the end of January there’ll be a new Microsoft product called Microsoft 365 Basic featuring 100GB of OneDrive and a 50GB mailbox for under US$20 a year. There’s a hidden opportunity for anyone with non-subscription Office 2021/2019 too.
What’s in Microsoft 365 Basic
Stripping away all the hype and marketing blurb, the Basic plan has two main elements:
- 100GB of OneDrive storage
- Up from 5GB for free Microsoft accounts
- 50GB Outlook.com mailbox with calendar, contacts and To Do lists
- Up from 15GB for free accounts.
- The larger mailbox is ‘ad-free’ with ‘secure email’.
Promised for later in 2023 are “ransomware recovery and password-protected sharing links in OneDrive”, features already available to most Microsoft 365 plans for consumers and business.
Strictly speaking, this isn’t a new Microsoft product. It’s a revamp of the current OneDrive plan which offered 100GB of cloud storage for $19.99 a year (or $1.99 a month). “OneDrive 100 GB Standalone plan” is rebadged as “Microsoft 365 Basic” with the 50GB Outlook.com mailbox added. Anyone on the current OneDrive plan will move to the new plan.
The new Basic plan is also a response to Google One’s Basic plan with 100GB of cloud storage for about the same price. Microsoft has added a bigger mailbox to sweeten the deal … a pity they didn’t add some more cloud storage (150-200GB) to be really competitive.
Email attachments will be counted on the OneDrive quota from 1 February 2023, just after Microsoft 365 Basic starts. That’s no accident. Microsoft expects some customers using the free Outlook.com mailbox to suddenly find themselves short of OneDrive space when their email attachments get added to the quota calculation. The new ‘Basic’ plan gives Microsoft a low-cost option to sell to affected people.
Other Basic plan ‘benefits’
As usual, Microsoft adds some ‘benefits’ that are just part of what’s already available. These ‘extras’ just pad out the product listing to fool customers.
“ Photo and file storage: OneDrive helps you save and share your files and photos anytime, anywhere, from any device.”
All OneDrive users can share files and photos, free or paid plans, using the OneDrive apps or web interface. The only difference is the size of the online storage.
“Always up to date: With a Microsoft 365 Basic subscription, you’ll always have the latest updates to your OneDrive and Outlook web and mobile experiences.”
Updates to OneDrive and Outlook – both cloud service and related apps are updated for all customers – free or paid.
“Microsoft support: Microsoft 365 offers technical support to help with Microsoft 365 apps and Windows 11 when you need it.”
It’s not clear what this ‘support’ actually means and what’s different from the support already available, especially for Windows 11. It’s probably not phone support.
What’s NOT in the ‘Basic’ plan
Microsoft 365 Basic is one of the few “Microsoft 365” products that does NOT include the Office desktop apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc). So it’s not what most people would think of as a ‘Microsoft 365’ plan.
Officially, ‘Basic’ plan users have access to the browser-based web apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint plus the web Outlook.com. But there’s other possibilities …
Use Office software with Basic plan
Something Microsoft has ‘forgotten’ to mention …
Anyone with perpetual licence Office (2021, 2019, 2016) could use that desktop software with the larger OneDrive quota in a Microsoft 365 Basic plan.
Of course, Outlook 2021/2019/2016 can already link to any Outlook.com mailbox.
For anyone with Microsoft 365 Personal, Family or a business plan, the new Basic plan means nothing. Those plans already have a much larger OneDrive quota (1 Terabyte) and a 50GB mailbox if their plan uses an Outlook.com address.
How to get Microsoft 365 Basic
Microsoft 365 Basic will be on sale from 1 February 2023. If you want to jump in early, buy the “OneDrive standalone 100GB” plan now and watch it switch to the new plan with bigger mailbox in a few weeks.
NOT Business Basic
There’s another ‘Basic’ Microsoft 365 plan. Microsoft 365 Business Basic has been around for some time. There’s sure to be some people getting the two mixed up in web searches.
Business Basic has a 50GB mailbox with a custom domain name (not Outlook.com) plus 1TB of OneDrive and full Teams. There’s NO Office desktop apps with this Basic plan. Some individuals and small businesses use Business Basic combined with another Microsoft 365 to get the Office desktop apps or they have Office 2021/2019.