After inhabiting our vocabulary and our devices for more than 30 years, “Microsoft Office” is retiring. That doesn’t mean apps like Word and Excel are going away, but rather that the company’s suite of tools is taking on a new, somewhat familiar name: Microsoft 365.
Microsoft announced the change at its Ignite conference on Wednesday. Over the next few months, Office.com, the Office mobile app, and the Office app for Windows will adopt the Microsoft 365 branding and get new looks and icons. Microsoft 365 is very similar to Microsoft Office, although there are key differences. The biggest of these is price—Microsoft 365 is a monthly subscription service and Microsoft Office is a one-time purchase—and access to upgrades. People that subscribe to Microsoft 365 have the latest updates included in their plan, while those with Microsoft Office have to buy the latest version of the software.
Microsoft Office was first released in 1990—going through many renovations over the years—and has managed to remain dominant the field of workplace software. Now that it’s retiring, a part of me wants to play a melancholy violin solo, even though I think the new purple Microsoft 365 app logo is really pretty.
For those that don’t want to say goodbye, Microsoft said it will still offer one-time purchases of apps like Word, Outlook, and Excel for Office 2021 users and Office LTSC plans. I guess that’s what retirement means at Microsoft.
At the event, Jared Spataro, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for modern work, also revealed that the Microsoft 365 app will come with a spate of new features. It will act as a hub for all user files across the company’s products, such as Word and PowerPoint, and will also allow folks to quickly access files shared in meetings.
Furthermore, the Microsoft exec added that the company was launching a feed in the Microsoft 365 app, which will allow users to see things such as their meetings of the day or updates from people they follow, in a nod to social media feeds.
“The new Microsoft 365 app is one part of our larger strategy and focus as a company on Microsoft 365 and is reflective of the innovation we’ve strived to deliver as work and life continue to evolve,” Spataro said in an emailed statement. “The new app serves as a hub for all the productivity apps Microsoft 365 offers and provides a simple, yet powerful experience for our customers as they navigate changing workstyles and collaboration patterns.”
Microsoft 365 will start rolling out to users in November, beginning with Office.com, according to Microsoft’s FAQ page. Meanwhile, changes will come to the Office app for Windows and mobile in January 2023.
Microsoft explained that the changes will apply to everyone who uses the Office app for work, school, or personal use, AKA almost everyone. But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to do anything or that anything will digitally explode on your end.
“There will be no impact to your existing account, profile, subscription, or files. The app will update automatically with a new icon and name, so keep an eye out for those changes in November and beyond,” the company stated on the FAQ page.