Microsoft Office: Key features and how to use it for productivity


Gennaro Cuofano
by Gennaro Cuofano
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Microsoft Office entity

What is Microsoft Office?

Microsoft Office is an office suite of desktop applications, servers, and services for the Microsoft Windows and OS X operating systems.

It was first announced by Microsoft on August 1, 1989. Microsoft Office became the marketing term for a suite of applications, and the first version of Office contained Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft PowerPoint.

Subsequently, Microsoft added other applications, such as Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft OneNote.

Also, Microsoft chose to group applications for different types of people to accommodate their needs. There is a suite of application for schools, for enterprises, for home, and for small business owners, each one having a different price.

The latest version is called Microsoft Office 2019, and Microsoft Office 365 is the web-based version. Other previous versions still used are called Microsoft Office 2016, 2013, and 2010.

Generally, people name simply Microsoft Office, regardless of the version, which makes distinguishing difficult.

Still, Microsoft Office 365 stands on its own, because it uses the cloud to integrate all aspects of the applications. Also, it is more easy to use because it’s a subscription service. Users pay a monthly or yearly fee to use it, and then the upgrades come free of charge.

Because is developed by Microsoft, it is the basic office suite for Windows users, but there are also versions for Mac.

What can Microsoft Office do for users?

As we said before, the apps included in Microsoft Office depend on the suite you want. Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal include Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, and Outlook. Office Home & Student 2016 includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote.

The suites for business also include Publisher and Access.

These are the Microsoft Office apps with a short description for each:

  • Word: this is the first application that comes to mind when talking about Microsoft Office. It is mainly used to create (written) documents.
  • Excel: this is a very useful tool for storing and organizing data, but also for calculations in engineering, for example.
  • PowerPoint: this is the main Microsoft app to create presentations
  • Outlook: this is the Microsoft email client and it is used to manage email and calendars, to do lists and contacts.
  • OneDrive: it is a cloud application to store data online
  • OneNote: to organize data you collect such as handwritten notes, drawings, screen captures, audio clips, and more
  • Publisher: this is a more sophisticated app, used by corporations to create publications, posters, flyers, menus
  • Access: this application captures and analyzes data from computers or networks. It is also dedicated to enterprises.

With each edition, Microsoft made these different applications to work together more efficiently. All documents, regardless of their format, can be saved on OneDrive. Also, you can email the documents via Outlook.

Basically, Microsoft Office is a suite of tools that covers almost every aspect of your work, of course, not including more specialized apps such as image editing, text editing or CAD software.

Microsoft Office FAQ

Can I get Microsoft Office for free? Yes, you can. You can use the online Office version for free and you have access to Word, Excel and PowerPoint without paying anything. You can also download the documents created in Office Online on your Windows computer.

What happens if I don’t renew Office 365? If you don’t renew your Office 365 subscription, you will still have access to your account for a limited period of time. As Microsoft explains, your subscription goes through multiple states before it gets deleted (after 90 days). During this 90 day period, you can always renew your subscription or backup your data.

Is it worth getting Office 2019? If you’re a power user and you rely on Microsoft Office daily, then yes, it is worth upgrading to Office 2019. In this manner, you’ll enjoy plenty of new features such as: Focus Mode in Word, enhanced file support in PowerPoint, new functions in Excel and more. On the other hand, if you only use Office ocasionally, you won’t get much value by upgrading to Office 2019.

Microsoft Office Troubleshooting

In case you’ll ever encounter any Office issues, we suggest bookmarking our wide collection of troubleshooting guides. We’re sure they’ll come in handy in such stressful moments.