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(Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Office 365 is now Microsoft 365 and it leverages AI more

The actual rebranding will take place on 21 April, while new features will be rolled out to over 38 million Office 365 subscribers over the next few months

Satya Nadella-led Microsoft has rebranded its flagship product Office 365 to Microsoft 365 so it can reflect the entire family of apps and services that are part of the productivity suite and have been added in the last few years.

Amidst the lockdown and cancellation of several tech events due to Covid-19, the announcement was made by Microsoft via an official blog post on 30 March. The actual rebranding will take place on 21 April, while new features will be rolled out to over 38 million Office 365 subscribers over the next few months.

Microsoft has assured that existing users can enjoy Office 365 without any changes in features and subscription price until then.

The core Office products including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are not going anywhere and will remain as important as they are now. Microsoft is hoping that the change in name will allow them to get users to try out their other cloud based productivity tools such as Teams, Stream, Forms, and Planner.

With work from home becoming a new norm in the wake of the ongoing epidemic, collaboration tools are getting a lot of traction. With tools like Teams and Steam in the portfolio the Office 365 suite has two unlikely stars waiting to steal the limelight from the core Office products.

AI (artificial intelligence) will play a bigger role in Microsoft 365 and its capabilities will be leveraged to help users "become better writer, presenter, designer and manager of finances".

For instance, the Microsoft editor will be using AI to offer features like Rewrite Suggestions to rephrase sentences and Similarity Checker to avoid plagiarism.

Similarly, PowerPoint Presenter Coach will offer new AI-backed capabilities such as monotone pitch and speech refinement.

Money in Excel will help users manage, track, and analyse their money and spending in one place.

Some of the other features from Microsoft 365 that will be previewed in advance include a new Family Safety app, new features in Microsoft Teams and a password monitor for the Microsoft Edge browser.

Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions will include premium desktop Office apps, 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage per person, 60 Skype minutes for calling and security features. It will cost $6.99 per month, while the family pack for up to six people will cost $9.99 per month.

As of now there is no announcement on prices of Microsoft 365 for businesses or Office 365 for Enterprises, which surprisingly, will be known by its existing name. The other suites that will also retain their name include Office 365 for Firstline Workers, Office 365 for Education and Office 365 for Government. Perhaps these specific suites will follow suit and get renamed later.

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