What is Microsoft Office 365 and how to get a free subscription

If you have been following the latest trends in technology and have been watching the tech blogs, you would have heard of Office 365. In this article, I will give an introduction to what is Office 365 and how it will help you.

Office 365 has been catching attention of a lot of people last several months. When I spoke to few of my IT friends, they all said they are familiar with the name, but don't know what it is. Are you one of the techies who heard a lot about Office 365, but don't know what is it? Read further to get an overview of Office 365.

What is Office 365?

Office 365 is a cloud based subscription service that offers a set of Microsoft Office family of products along with few tools and utilities.

Office 365 lives in the cloud (on the servers hosted by Microsoft). You do not need to install the products on your computer. There are no updates required. Your files are safe in the servers and even if your computer crashes, your files will be safe.

When you buy regular Microsoft Office products, you will pay one time license fees and install them on your computer. You can use it your convenience and you do not depend on any external service for anything other than some service packs and software updates.

Types of subscriptions offered by Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 currently offers 2 subscription plans:

1. Small Business - This plan is for small businesses up to 25 employees.

2. Enterprise - This plan is for large enterprises and have no size limit.

Office 365 Beta - Free Trial, but no free edition

I wish Microsoft offer a personal subscription, either free or at a low cost for personal needs. Unfortunately, Microsoft Office 365 do not offer a personal edition.

As of now (June 2011), Office 365 is on beta and you can have a free trial license. Visit the Office 365 official website and sign up for a free trial to get first hand experience with it.

The Signup is an easy process. Choose the type of service you want (Small business or Enterprise) and provide your information to create a profile.

I had a bit of confusion during my initial signup. It asked for a login or signup. Since Microsoft's Live account works for most of the Microsoft services, I tried to login using my hotmail account. I was able to login to the Passport account, however, I got an error saying I do not have an account with Microsoft online services. Then I tried to register for a new account, but then it said I am already logged in to the Live account and I need to sign out before I can create an account. In my opinion, if the Windows Live account is unrelated, it should not even tell me to sign out from Live account before I sign up for Office 365.

I was worried I may be asked to provide credit card details, but thanks to the beta program, no credit card information was asked so far.

Alright, I provided my details and signed up for Office 365 successfully. Here is the welcome screen I found after logging in:

Microsoft Office 365

I will try various options available and share my experience with Office 365 soon in my next article. Also, I will post more updates on the difference between Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps soon.

Article by Tony John
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tripod.com. Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including IndiaStudyChannel.com, Techulator.com, dotnetspider.com and many more.

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