According to Microsoft, there are now over 300 million commercial paid seats for their platform. When it was first launched, it consisted of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, with a couple of added applications.
Since then, a decade ago, there have been over 24 new applications added to the cloud service, expanding its capabilities to team messaging, video meetings, online forms and calendars, cloud storage, and more.
New Pricing Going into Effect March 1, 2022
Microsoft announced that it is increasing commercial prices worldwide for Microsoft 365 in what it describes as “the first substantive pricing updates since we launched Office 365”. Educational, nonprofit and home users aren’t affected by the increases, nor are companies that use Microsoft 365 Business Standard.
The licenses that will see a price increase:
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium
- Microsoft 365 E3
- Office 365 Enterprise E1
- Office 365 Enterprise E3
- Office 365 Enterprise E5
Why The Price Increase?
Microsoft lays out a few different drivers for this price increase.
New Capabilities (AI, Automation, etc.)
Microsoft 365 users have benefited from the infusion of AI and automation into the platform over the years. These enhancements, which impact workflow in multiple apps, help users save time and boost productivity. Here is an example of some of these recent additions:
- Excel Data Types: Data types in Excel allows users to tap into databases with thousands of data points about a wide variety of different subjects.
- Editor & Predictive Text: Editor in Word can replace other editing apps companies may have been paying for. That and predictive text use AI to help people polish their work in less time.
- Presenter Coach in PowerPoint: Presenter Coach helps users to improve their presentation delivery skills with help from an impartial and data-driven coach.
Security & Compliance Enhancements
As the cybersecurity landscape continues to get more dangerous, Microsoft has added more protections for users to deploy inside Microsoft 365 and Office 365 Enterprise. Compliance with new data privacy regulations has also been something that the platform has kept up with. Companies can rest assured their work tools have the capabilities to meet even the most stringent data protection requirements. Some of the recent enhancements include:
- Data loss prevention
- Encryption for messages
- Content Search
- Core Litigation Hold
- Built-in mobile device management
More Audio/Video Conferencing Capabilities
Microsoft Teams has expanded its capabilities significantly, and next year it will be taken into the 3D virtual reality world. Companies can now have Teams video calls with different countries, using automatic translations and captioning that support 44 languages and dialects. The platform has also been one of the first to incorporate both video meeting and webinar registration.
Continued Addition of New, Collaborative Apps
Microsoft continues to add new applications to Microsoft 365 plans. It just announced an upcoming app called Microsoft Loop (a new component-driven canvas tool). It also recently added the online diagram-making tool, Visio (web version) to Microsoft 365 plans allowing companies to easily create diagrams. Mesh for Teams is also on the horizon in 2022 and will enable 3D avatar and environment capabilities inside the Team workspace.
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