Tech giant Microsoft have announced that they will be retiring the “Office 365” brand soon and will be replacing it with “Microsoft 365”.
For those unaware, Office 365 is basically a monthly subscription that enables ongoing access to the latest offline and web-based versions of the Microsoft Office suite – Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc (along with many additional web-based productivity tools). This access is maintained all the while the subscription is paid. Ending the payment means that access is revoked, and the suite will stop working for that user.
The biggest addition to the applications that will be included in the package following this rebrand is Windows 10 itself. This is a big change to the usual way that Windows has traditionally been licenced. Usually, you get a licence with the machine. This is either supplied with the PC when it purchased, or purchased separately. This provides an ongoing licence that will persist for as long as the machine is viable.
This new model will mean that this licence is reliant on an ongoing monthly subscription payment. If you stop paying the subscription, Windows itself will stop working until payments are restored. This will be useful for companies with big variations in the number of staff needing access to machines on a month by month basis. This removes the need to pay up front for an “infinite” licence, and allows the company to just pay for access to Windows on that machine when required. It will be less useful for companies that have most / all of their Windows-based IT stock in use all of the time.
There is currently no indication that there will be any difference between the subscription version and the perpetual licenced version of Windows. It certainly isn’t impossible that this this will change over time though. One’s imagination doesn’t have to work too hard to forsee a situation a couple of years down the road in which certain business-essential features of Windows are exclusive to the subscription-based version. At the time, people wondered what Microsoft’s motivation for giving Windows 10 away for free for a year were. This may be the answer.