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Microsoft Office: A Complete Guide

Microsoft Office is a suite of office-related programs. Each application serves a different purpose and provides a unique service to its users. For example, Microsoft Word is used to create documents. Microsoft PowerPoint is used to create slideshow presentations, and Microsoft Outlook is a program used to manage email and calendars. There are a few more.

What Is Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 Logo

Since 1988, various versions of the Office suite have been available, including but not limited to Office Professional, Office Professional Plus, Office Home and Student, and various Office 2016 collections. However, most people still refer to any version of the Office suite as Microsoft Office, making distinguishing between editions difficult. Microsoft Office 2019 is the most recent version of Microsoft Office, though Microsoft prefers users to use the web-based Microsoft 365.

What distinguishes Microsoft 365 from previous editions of MS Office is that it integrates all aspects of the apps with the cloud. It is also a subscription service, which means users pay a monthly or yearly fee, with upgrades to newer versions included. Previous versions of MS Office, including Office 2016, did not include all of the cloud features available in Microsoft 365 and were not subscription-based. Office 2016 was a one-time purchase, as were previous editions and Office 2019 or Office 2021.

RELATED: A Complete Guide to Microsoft 365

Packages Available

Microsoft 365 Home comes in two different packages: Family and Personal. 

Microsoft 365 Family subscription comes with the latest AI-powered apps. Premium Office apps with free 1 TB of cloud storage per person, built-in advanced security, and you can share it with up to 6 people or devices.

Microsoft 365 Personal subscription includes premium Office apps. 1 TB of free OneDrive cloud storage and built-in advanced security for all your devices. This subscription is only for one user and, you can install it on either 1 PC or Mac and also on (iOS, Android and, Tablet).

Microsoft 365 Business is available in four different plans: Basic, Standard, Premium, and Apps.

  • The basic subscription includes web and mobile versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • Standard Edition contains Publisher and Access (PC only).
  • Premium provides access to all cloud services, including Intune and Azure Information Protection.
  • Apps category includes all Standard applications and OneDrive.

RELATED: How to Install or Reinstall Microsoft Office

Who Uses Microsoft Office and Why?

Users typically purchase a Microsoft Office suite when they discover that the apps included with their operating system are insufficient to meet their needs. It would be nearly impossible, for example, to write a book using only Microsoft WordPad, the free word processing app included with all editions of Windows. However, writing a book is possible with Microsoft Word, which has many more features.

Microsoft Office business suite apps include those you can use to manage large user databases, perform advanced spreadsheet calculations, and create powerful and exciting slideshow presentations, complete with music and video. Businesses also use MS Office to complete different business requirements. It has become the de facto standard for large corporations.

Microsoft claims over a billion people use their MS Office products. The Office software suite is used all over the world.

What Devices Support Microsoft Office?

Most devices, including laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones, allow you to access everything Microsoft Office offers.

You can use the Microsoft Office Online suite of applications if you don’t have a computer or if the one you have doesn’t support a full version of Office.

There are also Microsoft Office apps for the iPhone and iPad, which you can download from the App StoreGoogle Play has a selection of Android apps.

Which Apps Are Included in Microsoft Office?

Microsoft 365 Homepage

The apps included in a particular MS Office suite vary depending on the Microsoft Office package you choose (as does the price). Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook are all included in Microsoft 365 Family and Personal. Office Home & Student 2019, Office Home & Student 2021 (for PC or Mac) includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Business Suites also have unique combinations, such as Publisher and Access (PC only).

Here’s a short description of the apps and their functions:

  • Word – used to create documents, flyers, and publications.
  • PowerPoint – for data organization and manipulation, with formulas, graphing tools, and more.
  • Excel – spreadsheet program used to store, organize, and manipulate data.
  • OneDrive – for online data storage.
  • OneNote – storing and managing data such as handwritten notes, drawings, screen captures, audio clips, and more.
  • Publisher – to design extensive publications, posters, flyers, and menus.
  • Outlook – manage email and calendars and to-do lists and contacts.
  • Access – to collect and manage large amounts of data.
  • Teams – to chat, meet, call, and collaborate from anywhere.

Microsoft has designed the applications in the suites to work in unison. Looking at the list above, you can see how many different app combinations are possible. For example, you can create a Word document and save it to the cloud using OneDrive. You can send an email from Outlook with a PowerPoint presentation attached. You can import contacts from Outlook to Excel to create a spreadsheet of people you know, including their names, addresses, and other information.

Mac Version

Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote are all included in all Mac versions of Microsoft 365.

Android Version

Includes a unified Office app with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; Outlook and OneNote are separate apps. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are also available for download separately.

iOS Version

Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are available as separate apps or as part of a unified Office app; Outlook and OneNote are only available as individual apps.

RELATED: Microsoft Office Online Review


What is Microsoft Office Click-to-Run?

Microsoft 365 and Office 2013 and later support Click-to-Run. Click-to-Run is a Microsoft Office installation technology that allows you to download and use an Office app immediately, even before installing the entire suite. For example, if you try to access a feature before the suite has finished installing, Click-to-Run will immediately start installing that feature.

What is Microsoft Office OneNote?

OneNote is a program that is part of the Microsoft Office Suite. OneNote allows users to track to-do list items, take notes, and more in a digital notebook interface. Share or keep your OneNote documents private, and organize your work with Word-like tools and functions.