As of 21 April, Microsoft has dropped “Office” from its productivity suite, now known simply as Microsoft 365. The rebranded suite also brings new features including artificial intelligence, rich content, and templates, as well as cloud-powered experiences. Microsoft 365 is now available in Malaysia with Personal and Family plans costing MYR27 and MYR36 per month, respectively.
What hasn’t changed
If you’re a current Office 365 Personal or Family subscriber, you don’t have to do anything because your plan remains the same. Microsoft 365 Personal (formerly Office 365 Personal) remains at MYR27 (USD9.99) per month or USD69.99 per year whereas Microsoft 365 Family (formerly Office 365 Home) is still MYR36 (USD9.99) per month or USD99.99 per year.
Microsoft 365 includes the entire suite of Office productivity apps, 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage per person, 60 Skype minutes for calling mobile phones and landlines, advanced security features, ongoing technical support, and upcoming new features.
The Family plan can be shared with six people with each enjoying the same benefits of a single Personal plan.
For students, the Office Home & Student 2019 one-time purchase plan (USD149.99) is still available. It’s strange that this hasn’t been rebranded in line with the rest, though.
What’s new with Microsoft 365
Microsoft says the new experiences are being rolled out regionally and will eventually reach all its 38 million plus Office 365 subscribers globally in the next few months.
In a nutshell, Microsoft 365 is an expanded suite of apps and services, several adopted from its business/enterprise portfolio. This includes Microsoft Teams which has been retooled for consumers. Users will be able to connect in group chats, make video calls, stay organised and collaborate on share to-do lists with family and friends. Users will also be able to assign tasks to specific people, coordinate schedules, share photos and videos all in one place.
Coming soon is a new Microsoft Family Safety app that is designed to help families stay safe across digital and physical spaces. Parents will be able to keep an eye on their kids across Windows and the Xbox, set limits and control access to sites, apps and content for their kids.
Moving on, Microsoft Editor is an AI-powered service available in more than 20 languages and is now accessible across Word and Outlook.com. It is also available as a standalone browser extension for Edge and Google Chrome. Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscribers will have access to advanced grammar and style refinements such as rewrite suggestions and additional style critiques for greater clarity and conciseness. Wither, Grammarly?
PowerPoint also gets an AI boost with Presenter helping you correct monotone pitch and refine speeches. This is currently available as a free preview and will eventually roll out only to Microsoft 365 subscribers.
For more high-impact and visually appealing presentations, the famous presentation app also gets new rich content including 8,000 beautiful images and 175 looping videos from Getty Images as well as 300 new fonts, 2,800 new icons.
The updated Excel will have access to over 100 new data types powered by Wolfram Alpha. Also, Microsoft is announcing Money in Excel, a solution that makes it easy to manage, track, and analyse money and spending.
That aside, Outlook on the web gains several new features including the ability for users to link their personal calendar to their work calendar to show availability while still maintaining their privacy.
With video chat and conferencing seeing a spike amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft recently introduced a new feature in Skype called Meet Now. The feature allows users to easily create meetings for free, with no sign ups or downloads required. Microsoft said around 40 million people use Skype daily, up 70 per cent month over month and they’re also seeing a 220 per cent increase in Skype to Skype calling minutes month over month.
The rebranded Microsoft 365 looks like a solid expansion for its already well-rounded set of tools and services. Being a long-time subscriber of Office 365, the update makes it an even more compelling package. If you’re not yet a subscriber and you’re looking for a productivity suite, this is certainly something to consider.
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