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The Line Between Microsoft Subscriptions Is Becoming Blurred

An analysis of Microsoft Ignite 2019 sessions for Microsoft 365 and Office 365 shows a lot of crossover or blending of the two Microsoft subscription services -- possibly a sign that both services for enterprise customers will be under one umbrella moving forward.

Every year Microsoft puts on their Ignite conference for more than 25,000 IT pros, industry analysts, press, and other members of the tech community. The goal of the event is to educate everyone on any new capabilities, services, and Microsoft subscriptions for enterprise customers. After the marquee keynotes, the work of the week-long event begins in earnest as Microsoft employees and subject matter experts present hundreds of sessions to dive deeper into those new technologies. Those sessions, alongside a huge Tech Expo show floor populated by Microsoft product teams and company partners, help those in attendance get a better grasp on how they can use these new capabilities in their organizations.

As part of preparing our coverage for Microsoft Ignite this year, we have been analyzing the nearly 1,200 sessions currently listed on the main Microsoft Ignite website. As part of that research, we looked through sessions that were returned by searches for the terms Microsoft 365 and Office 365. There were 750 and 491 results, respectively, for each term. Not surprising at all that these two top Microsoft subscriptions would be well represented across all of these sessions. 

The more interesting result though is when the two terms get combined in a search through the sessions list. Then you find that of the total number of sessions on the two subjects (1,241), the mentioning of both terms occurs in 754 of those sessions. That is 61% of the total sessions showing a mention of both Microsoft 365 and Office 365 in the session description.

This may point to an effort by Microsoft to begin blurring the lines between the Microsoft 365 and Office 365 subscription offerings.

Blurring that line is pretty straight forward because, in reality, Office 365 is a subset of the overall Microsoft 365 subscription package. Microsoft 365 then includes Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security to round out that Microsoft subscriptions package. That means talking services and capabilities of Office 365 will naturally blend into any discussion around Microsoft 365.

However, what if Microsoft is looking to streamline the subscriptions they offer to enterprise customers and bring these top two Microsoft subscriptions under one product offering?

Christian Buckley, a Microsoft MVP/Regional Director and CEO of CollabTalk,  agrees that change is coming. 

“There is no official guidance to change or move away from Office 365 branding, but people are generally moving towards Microsoft 365,” said Buckley.

Buckley also shared that multiple community-driven user groups, which are independent of Microsoft, are shifting in this direction as well. He mentioned one example of the SharePoint Saturday Utah event rebranding to Friday 365 because the focus will be on a broader set of topics that potentially include Windows, Office 365, Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Search, and other Microsoft 365 technologies and services. Another example is the Office 365 Global Developer Bootcamp changing to the Microsoft 365 Global Developer Bootcamp.

“Many of these topics crossover into multiple workloads and are tied together by the Microsoft Graph, centralized admin capabilities, and broader compliance rules. Increasingly it is a Microsoft 365 conversation,” Buckley added.

Another trend Buckley noticed is that discussions around SharePoint Search have shifted to Microsoft 365 and the search capabilities within that subscription.

While there is nothing official from Microsoft on this shift, the trends we see in the Microsoft Ignite 2019 sessions listings and the perspective of others working within the greater Office 365 and Microsoft 365 ecosystem, certainly seem to lend themselves to a change on the horizon.

Update: After publication, we found further evidence that these two subscriptions are starting to merge directly from Microsoft. In the header of this support page for the official Microsoft 365 roadmap, screenshot below, you can see the updates for both products are now under this consolidated Microsoft 365 roadmap.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap Includes Office 365

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