Is Microsoft getting closer to launching its expected Microsoft 365 Consumer subscription?

Some Microsoft users are reporting they are seeing their Office 365 subscriptions and products being quietly rebranded as 'Microsoft 365.' Could a potential branding change be coming?

Bill Gates: Don't break tech giants, strengthen antitrust laws instead Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates thinks breaking up tech giants isn't an effective answer to antitrust concerns.

A year ago, word leaked out about Microsoft's plan to launch a Microsoft 365 Consumer subscription bundle (thanks to yours truly). Since then, no such bundle has materialized. But there are new signs Microsoft possibly could be getting closer to announcing such a prosumer-focused bundle. 

Over the past couple of days, a couple of Twitter users have posted screenshots showing their Office 365 products being rebranded to "Microsoft 365." 

Michael Reinders (@mdreinders) posted a screenshot showing Microsoft 365 ProPlus branding. And Florian B (@flobo09) posted shots today, Sept. 19, of his Office 365 branding switching from Office 365 to Microsoft 365. Florian B. said he's enrolled in the "Dogfood" Ring of the Office Insider program (which he joined unofficially, as noted by onmsft.com).

I asked Microsoft what's going on. My questions: Did Microsoft decide to re-brand O365 ProPlus to M365 ProPlus? If so, when? And does the name change mean users can no longer buy just O365 by itself?

A spokesperson said: "No, we have no plans to rebrand Office 365 ProPlus to Microsoft 365 ProPlus at this point. Customers can still buy Office 365 ProPlus without Windows and Intune."

The key phrase here, at least for this word-parsing journalist, is "at this point." What about "soon" (tm)? Maybe on Oct. 2 or at Ignite in early November? Or simply "in the coming months"? I asked again to see if Microsoft would like to add color to its response. The spokesperson said the company stood by its original statement.

Earlier this year, Microsoft reorganized internally in a way to try to start marketing Microsoft 365 as a single, cohesive product. I guess rebranding Office ProPlus to Microsoft 365 ProPlus could be part of this strategy, though at least to me, kind of a confusing one.

The existing Microsoft 365 business subscription bundle is consists of Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security (aka EMS, which includes Intune device management, analytics, and some Azure Active Directory capabilities), sold on a subscription basis. Microsoft 365 is the evolution of the bundles formerly known as "Secure Productive Enterprise E3 and E5." Microsoft introduced the Microsoft 365 concept in July 2017 at its Inspire partner conference. 

The current slate of available Microsoft 365 bundles includes Microsoft 365 Enterprise; Microsoft 365 Business; Microsoft 365 F1 for first-line workers; Microsoft 365 Education; Microsoft 365 Nonprofit; and Microsoft 365 Government. 

Microsoft currently has no such product called "Microsoft 365 Consumer." It does sell Office 365 to consumers via two bundles: Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal. When I reported last year about plans for a Microsoft 365 Consumer subscription, a few Microsoft watchers speculated that it might be little more than these existing Office 365 consumer bundles rebranded to Microsoft 365, plus the potential addition of some possibly souped-up versions of other existing services, such as Microsoft To-Do, Skype, Bing and MSN apps, and services. The rumored, family/friend-focused "Teams for Life" product could figure into a Microsoft 365 Consumer subscription bundle, as well (at least theoretically).

In 2018, Microsoft officials began talking up Microsoft's plan to try to re-engage consumers via its "Modern Life and Devices" approach targeting prosumers and the education market. The coming Microsoft 365 Consumer Subscription falls under the domain of Modern Life and Devices. Yusuf Mehdi is Corporate Vice President of Modern Life and Devices.