If you are new to licensing Microsoft products you are no doubt overwhelmed by the similarity of names Microsoft uses for its cloud products.

In someway all of these relate to what the industry calls VDI or Virtual Desktop Infrastructure and we have creates a free 30 minute “Zero to Hero with Amazon Workspaces” video training course HERE if you want to see what the competition brings.

To simplify this we have developed this frequently asked questions (FAQ) explainer:

1 – What is the difference between Office 365 and Microsoft 365?

In a word, nothing.  Microsoft renamed its popular Office 365 service to Microsoft 365 in April of 2021.  See THIS Microsoft post in the unlikely event you want more details.

office 365 vs microsoft 365

2 – What is Office 365 / Microsoft 365?

Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) is Microsoft Office Suite ‘in the cloud’ subscription service with many useful add-ons.  In the table below the first column contains traditional Microsoft desktop apps that have been wildly popular for decades, the other columns so Microsoft 365 services which are new-ish to the cloud.

We have bolded the ones we think have particular value for Small and Medium businesses and we have added links to our short training videos on YouTube you may find useful:

Microsoft Word Microsoft OneDrive Microsoft SharePoint Microsoft Forms
Microsoft Excel Microsoft OneNote Microsoft Yammer Microsoft Delve
Microsoft PowerPoint Microsoft ToDo Microsoft Stream Microsoft Whiteboard
Microsoft Outlook Microsoft Planner Microsoft Bookings Microsoft Power Automate
Microsoft Teams Microsoft Lists Microsoft Viva Microsoft PowerBI

3 – Can I Still Buy Microsoft Office Without a Subscription?

Office 2019 was supposed to be the last version you could buy as a stand alone product, but Microsoft has just made Office 2021 available (click HERE for details from Microsoft).

Office 2021 is sold as a one-time purchase, which means you pay a single, up-front cost to get Office apps for one computer. One-time purchases are available for both PCs and Macs. However, there are no upgrade options, which means if you plan to upgrade to the next major release, you’ll have to buy it at full price. SOURCE

4 – What is the Difference Between Microsoft 365 and Windows 365?

One is productivity programs (like Word and PowerPoint), the other is a virtual computer that runs on Microsoft’s servers in the cloud.

5 – What is Windows 365?

Put simply Windows 365 is a regular Windows desktop computer that runs in the cloud.  Microsoft says you should think of it as renting a laptop from the internet.

Windows 365 is a full Windows 10 or Windows 11 computer session that you can connect to from nearly any computer, cell or tablet in the world.  You can install whatever you want on it and it can easily move files to and from the computer you are connecting from.

Basic Standard Premium
Run light productivity tools and web browsers. Run a full range of productivity tools and line-of-business apps. Run high-performance workloads and heavier data processing.
CAD $44.80 CAD $59.30 CAD $95.50
user/month user/month user/month
2 vCPU 2 vCPU 4 vCPU
128 GB Storage 128 GB Storage 128 GB Storage
  • Supports the desktop versions of Office apps, Outlook, and OneDrive
  • Supports the desktop version of Microsoft Teams (chat and audio calls only – NOT video)
  • Integrated with Microsoft Endpoint Manager for advanced threat protection, and PC and mobile device management
  • Unlimited users

6 What is the Difference Between Windows 365 & Azure Virtual Desktop?

In a word, flexibility.  Windows 365 is a fixed rate service with only 3 slightly different hardware options where as Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD) provides enormous flexibility allowing for thousands of hardware configurations and rates that are based on actual usage.

Beyond that two substantive differences between W365 and AVD are:

  1. AVD allows graphics card (GPU) processing and W365 does not
  2. AVD requires a Client Access License (CAL) which W365 does not

7 – What is Azure Virtual Desktop?

Azure Virtual Desktop is a Microsoft service that provides enterprise scale companies with Virtual Server Host machines that can be added to or reduced on demand or dynamically.

There is no clear cut ‘per user’ or ‘per machine’ price for AVD because it is so flexible.  In addition to requiring a Client Access License (CAL) AVD charges for:

  • Virtual machines
  • Storage
    • Operating system (OS) storage
    • User profile storage
    • Data disk (personal desktop only)
  • Networking

You are eligible to access Windows 10 and Windows 7 with Azure Virtual Desktop if you have one of the following per user licenses:

  • Microsoft 365 E3/E5
  • Microsoft 365 A3/A5/Student Use Benefits
  • Microsoft 365 F3
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
  • Windows 10 Education A3/A5
  • Windows 10 VDA per user

8 – What are the Different Types of Azure Virtual Desktop

There are three different types of Azure Virtual Desktops.  Each one decreases cost but increases complexity:

  1. Personal – This is just a virtual PC that is assigned to a single specific user
  2. Pooled – This allows users to share virtual PC’s and substantially cut costs but requires the IT staff to configure each users personal documents, desktop files and custom applications to be added on the fly as they log in.
  3. Multi session Pooled – Multi session means that the server which is hosting your VM’s is NOT dedicated to you or your company.  This can save serious money.  Microsoft  says this typically saves nearly 50% over Personal AVD’s.



HerveM · February 8, 2022 at 1:43 am

I propose this changement :
5 – What is Microsoft 365? –> 5 – What is Windows 365?

    Ian Matthews · February 21, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    Wow – how the heck did I screw that up. Fixed! Thank you Herve.

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