What is Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 is an document management system used by a wide range of businesses to store their company’s files and maximize workflow efficiency. Over a million businesses have used Microsoft 365 to manage their documents and teams. Its standout features are its document creation tools, collaboration features, and workflow automations.
Table of Contents
- What is Microsoft 365?
- Microsoft 365 Review Summary
- Microsoft 365 Pricing & Cost
- Microsoft 365 Features
- Microsoft 365 Integrations
- Microsoft 365 Customer Service
- Microsoft 365 Alternatives & Competitors
- Is Microsoft 365 Right For You?
Microsoft 365 Review Summary
Microsoft 365 was founded in 2011 by Microsoft. Since then, Microsoft 365 has served over a million businesses globally from its headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
Microsoft 365’s features are more robust than standard document management tools such as Dropbox Business and Box. Its strongest features include its document creation capabilities, its collaboration features, and workflow automation.
Microsoft 365’s pricing starts at $5 per month per user. It is one of the more affordable solutions on the market today. It is slightly less affordable after its entry level plan than its closest alternative, Google Workspace.
Overall, Microsoft 365 is a full featured document management solution used by a wide range of businesses. Microsoft 365’s suite of tools help your business manage not only your documents but your team as well. We highly recommend Microsoft 365 for any business that prefers Microsoft over Google, and wants to take advantage of internal chat and team management tools like Microsoft Teams.
Microsoft 365 Pricing & Cost
Microsoft 365 pricing starts at $5 per month per user. Each plan comes with 1 TB of storage. More expensive plans come with additional web and mobile versions of Office apps.
|Plan||Price per User|
Microsoft 365 Features
Let’s discuss the major features that Microsoft 365 offers and how they can help your document management needs. Product screenshots are included to add context and demonstrate the user interface.
Microsoft 365’s admin console is feature-rich and accessible for businesses new to document management. This means that you can easily set advanced settings for your team management, permissions, and security.
Microsoft 365’s team member dashboard is user friendly and comes with helpful team management features.
You can sort your members using a number of filters. You have access to various account details and permissions upon clicking on an individual member’s name.
Additionally, you can create user templates to automatically assign licenses, profile information, and permissions to your users. This helps streamline your workflow, especially if you’re planning for users to have access to the same licenses or permissions.
Setting permissions in Microsoft 365 is easy. There are many top-level and individual permissions you’re able to set as an administrator. This process is similar to Google Workspace but more user-friendly.
Permissions are set by assigning users various roles. These roles all come with respective permissions. If you want to set specific permissions to access files in any of the files you create and store in Microsoft 365 and OneDrive, you can do so in those applications directly.
Setting up your company’s security in Microsoft 365 is streamlined. Each security feature comes with its own respective dashboard. This makes setting security in Microsoft 365 a more accessible experience than Google Workspace.
The alerts dashboard in Microsoft 365 is seen above. You have access to modules that visualize your alerts and allow you to drill down into more specific settings. You can also pin the modules you find most important to your homepage for easier access.
Contrast this with Google Workspace’s workflow. Workspace provides a master list of alerts, but the feature is harder to use than what’s offered by Microsoft 365.
Cloud storage functionality is decent in Microsoft 365. They are found in Microsoft 365’s content creation and file storage applications: Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneDrive. Offline access is easy to set up and version history is adequate. The biggest limitation is that files can only be recovered 30 days after deletion.
Offline file access in Microsoft 365 is simple to set up. However, you can only enable offline access if you download OneDrive’s desktop application. Contrast this with Google Workspace, which allows you to enable offline access through your browser.
You can access and sync files on the following devices:
Microsoft 365 applications do not have a flexible file recovery cutoff date. They can be recovered 30 days after their deletion. Alternatives like Dropbox Business and Box can respectively recover files after 180 days or with no cutoff date at all.
File version histories are better than Dropbox Business and Box, but less detailed than Google Workspace. Below is an example of version history in Microsoft Word.
Document Version Control
Version histories across Microsoft 365 applications have the same format. You have direct access to every version that’s been autosaved. You can see direct changes that were made in each version, but you cannot sort through individual edits like you can in Workspace. You also cannot name individual versions in Microsoft 365.
This means that checking individual changes and organizing your document versions are harder to do in Microsoft 365 than alternatives like Google Workspace. Businesses who have to go through a high volume of edit cycles will find this particularly limiting.
Microsoft 365’s file management is one of its best features due to its file creation suite. Organizing files is decent, but not as streamlined as alternatives like Dropbox Business.
You can create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in Microsoft 365 using Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. All of these creators are feature rich and directly integrated with every other Microsoft 365 application.
You can download desktop and mobile versions of each Microsoft 365 content creator. Note that we found that the web versions of these applications loaded slower than their Google Workspace counterparts.
All files created in Microsoft 365 are stored in OneDrive. Although OneDrive is a powerful storage tool, organization is weaker than competitors like Dropbox Business.
Visualizing your document and folder hierarchy is easier to do in Dropbox Business than it is in Microsoft 365. This is because you have a navigation bar in Dropbox Business. This means that filtering through and organizing files in Microsoft 365 is somewhat inefficient. This will most likely hinder you if your business has a high volume of files.
Collaboration features in Microsoft 365 are superb. The two main collaboration tools are Microsoft 365’s document creators and Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is the standout feature in this category. This is because it consolidates Microsoft 365’s team and document management features in one hub.
You can create, edit, and comment on documents in Microsoft 365 in real time with anyone you invite to your file. This workflow is similar to Google Workspace.
Although there are free versions of Microsoft 365’s document creators, they come with limited functionality compared to their paid counterparts. Contrast this with Google Workspace, which provides full functionality for both paying and non-paying users. This is a limitation placed on your outside collaborators and clients that you should take into consideration.
Here are the collaborative projects you can create in Microsoft 365:
- Web forms
- Web pages
You can make comments on Microsoft 365’s three primary document editors: Word, Powerpoint, and Excel. Commenting is straightforward but cannot be accomplished directly in OneDrive.
As you can see above, you can highlight direct text you want to comment on. You can also highlight and comment on any media file Microsoft 365 supports.
Unfortunately, you cannot directly comment on files shared in OneDrive. This means that if you upload a pdf file to your team’s drive, anyone who wants to comment must first open the file in Powerpoint to do so. This workflow is limiting and more efficient in alternatives like Box.
Microsoft Teams is Microsoft 365’s standout collaboration tool. It is similar to Slack in that it is an all-in-one hub for your team to collaborate with one another.
Teams is undoubtedly a powerful solution in its own right. You can access your team’s files, set events in its calendar, and communicate with team members through chat or video. Microsoft Teams effectively takes the majority of 365’s document and team management features and consolidates them in one space.
Although Google Workspace’s suite of tools are not grouped in one software solution, they’re still powerful in their own right and their integration with one another is seamless.
You can share any number of files in OneDrive. The individual size limit for sharing files is 250 GB. Contrast this to Google Workspace’s 5 TB limit.
You can generate links through OneDrive that you can share with teammates or people outside of your organization. OneDrive does not come with a dedicated landing page for your shared files like Dropbox Business. This means that companies who want to reinforce their branding to clients will find Dropbox Business more valuable.
Both of these applications can be downloaded in Microsoft 365’s application marketplace: Microsoft AppSource. Note that you have to purchase individual plans for whichever software you’re using.
Workflow automations are rules you can set to automate repetitive tasks for your team. Some examples in document management software include automatically sending new hires onboarding documents or sending alerts when a user’s password changes.
Workflow automation in Microsoft 365 is its best feature. This is because it is powerful and far more accessible than in Google Workspace.
As you can see above, you create automated workflows using conditions and "if-then" statements. Power Automate is integrated with all of Microsoft 365’s applications for further flexibility.
You are also provided far more templates in Microsoft 365 than you are in both Workspace and Box. Here are some helpful workflow automation templates your business can leverage:
- Convert Word document to PDF and add watermark
- Email upcoming calendar events
- Post welcome message when new user joins
- Upload photos to Google Drive
- Get push notifications on Tweet with certain keyword
Microsoft 365 Integrations
Most of Microsoft 365’s integrations are handled through Microsoft AppSource. Here are some popular integrations Microsoft 365 supports:
Microsoft 365 Customer Service
Microsoft 365’s customer support team is decent. They are reachable through phone and email, with response times usually taking up to an hour.
Microsoft 365’s most helpful secondary resource is its Tech Community page. This is the official forum page dedicated to troubleshooting solutions and helping out other Microsoft 365 members.
|Customer Support Channels||Phone, email|
|Other Support Resources||Forum|
|Application Status Page||Yes|
Microsoft 365 Alternatives & Competitors
Microsoft 365 has a number of competitors on the market today. Its most comparable alternative is Google Workspace.
Here’s a full list of Microsoft 365 competitors:
- Google Workspace
- Dropbox Business
- Zoho WorkDrive
Is Microsoft 365 Right For You?
Overall, Microsoft 365 is a full featured document management solution used by a wide range of businesses. Microsoft 365’s suite of tools help your business manage not only your documents but your team as well. We highly recommend Microsoft 365 for any business that prefers Microsoft over and Google and is interested in a software solution centered around document storage and creation, team management, and workflow automation.
If you're interested, you can try Microsoft 365 today.