Microsoft Office 365 Suite – Components and Data Protection

Microsoft Office 365 Suite is a set of multiple productivity programs created by Microsoft that is subscribed to in a single package. The collection of productivity programs in the Microsoft Office 365 Suite includes Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft OneNote, and it is one of the most popular software packages in the world. It is popularly known as Microsoft 365. It is worth mentioning that M365 as a SaaS solution also gives users access to services such as Exchange, OneDrive, Teams or SharePoint. All these applications and services process and store data. They also have basic security features that don’t protect your data in every situation. The thing to remember is that the data is your property, whether you keep it in the cloud or locally. Okay, let’s see what the M365 is all about.

The Evolution of Microsoft 365

The suite was initially known as just Microsoft Office, which was started in 1988 by Microsoft. It is simply all the programs that perform the standard home and business productivity tasks packaged into one place/suite. The suite is mainly referred to as MS Office 365 or Office 365, which contains Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft OneNote. It was initially sold as a one-time payment, whereby users can purchase all the productivity programs simultaneously. The original and most widely used version of Office is the desktop version, available for PCs running the Windows and macOS operating systems. However, it also has mobile apps for Android and iOS and an understanding of the software that runs on a web browser.

In the introduction of Office 2013, Microsoft promoted the suite to be primarily a subscription-based model whereby users can subscribe monthly or annually, and they will receive updates to the software for the subscription they have made. Facing growing competition from Google’s similar service, Google Apps, Microsoft designed the Office 365 platform to “bring together” its existing online service into “an always-up-to-date cloud service.” These features usually come with a cloud computing integration, which allows you to connect to your most-used apps over the Internet. You can work in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Access, and Microsoft OneNote from nearly anywhere. With your information stored in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about losing your data if your device fails. Many apps can be run directly from your web browser without downloading or installing special software.

Microsoft 365 – Software as a Service

This promotion resulted in higher revenue as users preferred to go for the subscription model as the updates were helpful. The cloud computing integration made working with the package easier. Microsoft rebranded its Office 365 suite to Microsoft 365 for the enterprise model in July 2017. They did the same for the consumer and small and medium-sized businesses on April 21, 2020. The rebranding majorly has helped Microsoft change how the Office apps are seen; according to Microsoft, it was stated that “over the last several years, our cloud productivity offering has grown well beyond what people traditionally think of as ‘Office.’

The rebranding made Microsoft share the Microsoft 365 suite into different subscription plans, depending on the user. It aims to meet different needs and market segments, providing different sets of features at various price points. The significant segments of the subscription plan are;

  • Consumer (which is either Personal or Family),
  • Small Businesses (which is either Microsoft 365 Apps for business, Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, or Microsoft 365 Business Premium) and
  • Enterprise (Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise, Office 365 Enterprise, or Microsoft 365 Enterprise). The suite was divided this much to give options to be used not only for personal and family use but for enterprise, education, healthcare, and governmental work.

Microsoft 365 Plans

Microsoft Office 365 suite gave options to consumers, Small and Medium-sized Businesses, and Enterprises. However, there are some ways the suite can help each of these users.

1. Consumer: Microsoft 365 is entirely compatible with mobile and touchscreen devices, making it easy for consumers to access files from any device. It can be used from any device with an Internet connection from the device. Also, your files are stored in the cloud instead of on a local server. If you suffer some disaster, you can rest assured knowing your files will be safe, and you don’t have to perform any backups.

However, we now know that the so-called Shared Responsibility Model presented by Microsoft does not ensure complete data security. If user data is encrypted by ransomware or deliberately deleted, Microsoft is not responsible and it is virtually impossible to recover such data. That is why it is worth protecting them with an appropriate solution, such as Storware backup and Recovery.

2. Business: Apart from all the advantages the consumer gets, Business Plan gives users tools to keep communication centralized and straightforward across Skype and Outlook. Skype for Business lets you hold conference calls and meetings with staff and external agencies from anywhere in the world so that you can collaborate and communicate, regardless of location or time difference. Another feature for the business plan is Yammer, which acts as a social network for your organization, where you can message the entire workforce, and the staff can receive an email notification when there is a new post, so messages aren’t missed. To know more, check this article by Core.

3. Enterprise: For the Enterprise, you get all the productivity applications from the consumer and business option plan together with advanced security (where you get a single, holistic identity solution that gives you flexibility and control), compliance (where you can intelligently respond to requests and protect data across devices, apps, and clouds), information protection (gain visibility and control over how any file is being used with a comprehensive and integrated information protection solution) and advanced analytics (make fast, informed decisions with advanced analytical capabilities) for your enterprise. To check out how the suite can impact other industries, check this out.

One major disadvantage of Microsoft Office 365 is that constant updates mean constant changes, which can be counter-productive, especially for the workforce that does not adapt to tech changes quickly. Also, 90% of users across all sectors only use Word, Excel, and email. This means that if you pay for an Office 365 subscription, you might not be getting as much value out of it as you expect. You can check out more of the disadvantages with ramsac.

Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace

Microsoft shifted its product to cloud-based Office 365 due to majorly Google, whose effort is now known as the Google Workspace (former G suite). It is only fair to compare the two to understand how far they have come and if Microsoft has achieved its aim. WP Beginner has made a perfect comparison between the two; Google Suite is a much better choice for small business owners. It is much easier to use, their web and mobile apps are the best, and you probably already use many apps like Gmail, Calendar, Photos, Google Docs, and more. Another advantage of G Suite is pricing. If you are on a basic plan, you can buy more and get unlimited storage with their business and enterprise plans. G Suite also has a much simpler admin control panel that will save you time when adding employees and managing accounts as a small business owner. Office 365, on the other hand, is more suitable for enterprise-level businesses where all employees work from an office using a Windows PC. Their desktop apps are top-notch, especially if you are in a Windows ecosystem. To read more on this comparison, check out the post on WPBeginner.

Microsoft 365 – Basic Data Protection

Suppose your organization uses the Microsoft Office 365 software. In that case, Microsoft might subject the organization to regional data privacy regulations requiring you to protect, manage, and provide rights and control over personal information stored in your IT infrastructure. Foreseeing this, Microsoft has provided some capabilities and features to help you meet the criteria for protecting data as an enterprise. Some of these capabilities and features are:

  • Compliance Manager: It helps to manage regulatory compliance activities, get an overall score of your current compliance configuration, and find recommendations for improvement.
  • Microsoft Defender for Office 365: It helps to protect your Microsoft 365 apps and data – such as email messages, Office documents, and collaboration tools—from attack.
  • Data Loss Protection (DLP): It helps to detect, warn, and block risky, accidental, or inappropriate sharing of data containing personal information, both internally and externally.
  • Data retention labels and policies: It helps to implement information governance controls. These can include determining how long to keep data (such as personal data related to customers) to comply with your organization’s policies or data regulations.
  • Email encryption: It helps to protect personal data by sending and receiving encrypted email messages between people inside and outside your organization.
  • Sensitivity labels: These help to classify and protect your organization’s data without hindering the productivity of users and their ability to collaborate. It places labels with various levels of protection on your email, files, or sites. Microsoft has provided a guideline on using all the tools effectively to get the best data protection and meet one or more privacy-related regulations.

The guidelines are:

  • Plan: Assess data privacy risks and identify sensitive items. This work can include an overall readiness assessment or identification of susceptible information types subject to regulatory controls your organization needs to comply with.
  • Track: Risk assessments and check your compliance score. Compliance Manager provides you with a built-in ability to track and manage improvement actions related to multiple data privacy regulations that apply to you.
  • Prevent: Protect personal data. Microsoft 365 provides identity, device, and threat protection capabilities that you can use to help comply with data privacy regulatory compliance.
  • Retain: Govern information subject to data privacy regulation. Data privacy regulations call for personal information governance controls that can be employed in your environment
  • Investigate: Monitor, investigate, and respond to data privacy incidents. There are Microsoft 365 features available to help you monitor, analyze, and respond to data privacy incidents in your organization as your operation-related capabilities. Having processes, procedures, and other documentation for these features can be essential to demonstrate compliance with regulatory bodies. For more information, check out this Microsoft Post.


In Conclusion, Microsoft Office 365 has achieved the goal for which it was created, most especially for businesses and enterprises. The support, up-to-date cloud services, and security added for the categories make the usage easy and as safe as possible. The advantages that come with the package are not only for the business and enterprise. Getting the family or personal plan for 99.99/year or 69.99/year; will also provide many advantages, especially the cloud computing services, which will allow you to use any of the packages from any device of your choice.

If you would like to learn more about data protection in Microsoft 365 applications, please contact us.

Paweł Mączka Photo

text written by:

Pawel Maczka, CTO at Storware