The Ultimate Microsoft 365 Update Guide

Updates to Microsoft March Blog 4

We all know Microsoft 365 as an evolving mix of applications with new features and cloud services that make those applications more powerful. It’s an essential productivity solution that greatly enhances workflows and collaboration. However, Microsoft 365 wasn’t always the way it is now. In this Microsoft 365 update guide, we’re going to look back at Office 365’s update history and how it has changed over the years.

Your Microsoft 365 Update Guide

You may have noticed we mentioned Office 365 update history instead of Microsoft 365. What is the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 365? There’s actually no difference at all. Microsoft 365 was originally called Office 365 and later rebranded to the name we know today.

Launched in June 2011, Office 365 was designed to be the successor to Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite. This was a simple service headlined by a plain email app known as Exchange and a document-centric workflow solution called SharePoint. The goal of these programs was to make collaboration easier and transform the on-premises code into something cloud-friendly. 

The only problem was that Exchange struggled with the legacy of public folders and had a history of failed attempts to expand from its core strength as an email server. On the other side, SharePoint couldn’t grow into anything other than an excellent document management platform.

The Acquisition of Yammer

A year after the launch of Office 365, Microsoft acquired the budding social networking service Yammer for $1.2 billion. Microsoft quickly updated Office 365 to work seamlessly with Yammer in an attempt to boost its collaboration efforts. While it was a decent attempt to provide a more connected organization, Office 365 wasn’t quite what the service needed to become an essential business tool.

The Introduction of Office 365 Groups

It wasn’t until 2014 that Office 365 began to resemble the Microsoft 365 we’ve become familiar with. The service was expanded to include new plans aimed at many types of businesses as well as general consumers. This included integration of consumer services like OneDrive.

In November 2014, Microsoft launched Office 365 Groups. This update introduced a better distribution list, streamlined integration with SharePoint Online, a shared OneNote notebook, and easy group management. Office 365 Groups was a superior solution to the previous way Microsoft made Exchange, Outlook, and SharePoint work together.

Microsoft Teams Integration

In 2017, Microsoft released its proprietary business communication platform Microsoft Teams. Originally promoted as “Outlook for millennials,” Teams promised to be a new take on employee collaboration. Once the platform was integrated with Office 365, workers gained the ability to instant message, share files, hold video meetings, and more.

New Name, Same Services

Over the next few years, Microsoft’s marketing strategy changed gradually. The company wanted its productivity applications to be part of one complete productivity platform. On April 20, 2020, Microsoft made a move to reflect that strategy. It was at this time that their cloud-based productivity service ceased to be known as Office 365 and would now be referred to as Microsoft 365.

As far as the customer is concerned, there’s no separation between the Windows operating system, Office 365, and Azure. These all remain as one platform to serve your company’s collaboration needs. This platform includes features such as:

  • Outlook
  • Hosted services (Sharepoint, Exchange, and Skype for business)
  • Office applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint)
  • Collaboration tools (Teams, OneDrive, Yammer)

How To Check for Office 365 Updates

The Microsoft 365 platform uses a rolling release model for updates. Usually, updates for online components are delivered once per quarter. These could include things like security patches and bug fixes. The bigger updates may even include integration with new services as Microsoft actively improves the value of its platform.

If you want to stay on top of the latest Microsoft 365 updates, reach out to The Millennium Group. We’re an industry-leading managed service provider with years of experience in IT support. Our team works as your partner to ensure you always have the IT solutions you need. We also check on Microsoft 365 updates for you so you can worry about other important business matters.

Contact us today to learn more.