Microsoft to rebrand some Office 365 commercial plans as 'Microsoft 365'

Just when you thought you had a handle on what Microsoft 365 is, Microsoft is changing some (but not all) of the branding around it.

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Credit: Microsoft

When Microsoft first introduced "Microsoft 365" a few years ago, the term meant something very specific. Microsoft 365 (M365) was a subscription bundle of Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. As of today, that specific definition no longer holds, as some Office 365 subscriptions also are getting the M365 name. Going forward, some M365-branded commercial subscriptions now will include Windows and PC/device management tools, but others won't.

Microsoft announced today that it will be rebranding some -- but not all -- of its Office 365 business plans with the M365 name. It won't be changing their pricing or what's included in them. Microsoft announced the name change on March 30, the same day that it unveiled its newly rebranded consumer subscription bundles. On the business side, the new names will change automatically on April 21, 2020.

Office 365 subscriptions for SMBs are being renamed with M365. Enterprise and SMB users will see the "Office 365 ProPlus" name replaced with "Microsoft 365 Apps for the enterprise." Neither of these rebrandings includes any pricing or feature changes. it's just a name change, officials reiterated.

Plans which are affected by the change include: 

  • Office 365 Business Essentials will be rebranded as Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Office 365 Business Premium will be rebranded Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Office 365 Business and Office 365 Pro Plus will be called Microsoft 365 Apps, with Microsoft using "for business" and "for enterprise" as labels to distinguish the two where necessary.

One other related name change announced today which isn't Office 365 specifically: Microsoft 365 Business -- which unlike the Office 365 plans above, already does include device management  -- will be rebranded Microsoft 365 Business Premium.

Plans which are not affected by the M365 name change and which will keep their existing names: 

Office 365 for Enterprise
• Office 365 E1
• Office 365 E3
• Office 365 E5

Office 365 for Firstline
• Office 365 F1 

Office 365 for Education
• Office 365 A1
• Office 365 A3
• Office 365 A5

Office 365 for Government
• Office 365 G1
• Office 365 G3
• Office 365 G5

In the blog post announcing the rebrand, officials said the new names were meant to indicate that Office is more than Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; it also includes new apps like Teams, Stream, Forms and Planner. And even the existing core Office apps are different, officials said. They now include features that often require cloud connectivity and make use of AI.

Officials also claimed the name change will help simplify things. "This new approach to naming our products and the use of the Microsoft 365 brand is designed to help customers quickly find the plan they need - whether an enterprise, SMB or consumer plan," a spokesperson said.

Microsoft already offers several M365-branded subscription plans for business and education customers, including M365 F1, E3, and E5. These M365-branded plans -- unlike the newly renamed O365 ones -- include Windows and Enterprise Mobility and Security functionality as part of those bundles. Microsoft isn't making any changes to these plans, price- or feature-wise, officials confirmed.