Earlier this week, Microsoft revealed new subscription plans for Microsoft 365, adding that the suite of software, applications and tools would be replacing the Office 365 offering that people knew on 21st April.

At the time, the details and specifics of the switch from Office 365 to Microsoft 365, for local users at least, was unknown but we reached out to Microsoft South Africa for feedback.

The firm has gotten back to us, answering our most pressing Microsoft 365 questions.

Here’s what you need to know once the 21st April date hits.

Some name changes

Firstly, South Africa will fall in line with the global 21st April switch, which means those users currently on an Office 365 plan will be on Microsoft 365 moving forward.

It is also crucial to note that there will no change in pricing for Office 365 users once the switch happens. That said, the subscriptions plans will be getting new names. Office 365 Personal will become Microsoft 365 Personal after 21st April for example, with it currently listed on the South African site as R89 per month or R899 per year.

A similar change in name will occur for the Business version of Office 365. To that end Office 365 Business Premium will become Microsoft 365 Business Standard come 21st April, and being an annual commitment of R190 per user, per month. You can also check out the advised pricing here. It should also be noted that there are no feature or application changes to these subscriptions, with only the name being different, according to Microsoft SA.

There is also no need for an update in order to facilitate the migration from one platform to the other, the firm adds.

Apps may vary 

Alongside the announcement of new subscription plans, Microsoft also revealed a number of new applications and tools for users to integrate into the platform, as the firm looks to make its suite a bit more tailored to the social aspects of its users lives.

When asked about whether South African users can expect the full suite of applications that their global counterparts will, Microsoft SA noted that these elements will be dependant on region.

That said, the firm did highlight three applications that users will be able to experience locally – Microsoft Editor, Microsoft Family Safety and Premium Creative Content.

The latter will give users access to 8 000 Getty images, 2 800 icons, 300 fonts and 175 looping videos for when they’re creating something on one of the applications.

The former two elements are a bit more interesting though, with Microsoft Editor being an AI-assisted advanced editing tool for use in Word and Outlook. It currently supports 20 languages, but no mention yet of any kind of localisation for other languages besides English being in the works.

As for Family Safety, it will allow users signed up to Microsoft 365 to keep tabs on one another. More specifically for parents to track the locations their kids arrive at or leave, as well as providing notifications when Xbox consoles, Windows PCs/notebooks and Android smartphones are being used, along with allowing parents to control screen time.

Free Teams

The final element worth mentioning is what Microsoft South Africa is making freely available to users amid the national lockdown and COVID-19 outbreak. In this regard, users with a Gmail or Outlook address can access the “freemium” version of Microsoft Teams for collaborating with co-workers.

The firm also mentioned that free versions of its Office 365 software are available, with those currently not owning a Teams license having access for up to six months. These individuals are urged to contact their Microsoft partner or sales representative to find out more.

For educators using Teams, Microsoft South Africa has a free version of Office 365 available to institutions, which they can access here.