office 365

You might have been hearing a lot of talk about Office 365 recently. For instance, there has been buzz about how awesome it is that it integrates with products like Rocket Matter, the leading cloud-based legal practice management system.

But what is Office 365? And how is it different from regular ole’ Microsoft Office? Here, we’ll break it all down for you so you’ll get a better idea of what’s included with this powerful subscription and how you can apply it to your law practice:

What’s Microsoft Office?
Let’s start at the beginning. “Microsoft Office” refers to the original collection of productivity software published by Microsoft back in 1988 (Yup. You read that correctly). The bundled suite of applications originally included Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint, and Microsoft Excel. The collection has since grown to include Microsoft Outlook, Access, OneNote, Publisher, Project, and Visio.

This software was designed to be installed locally on your PC or Mac. The applications are not automatically updated, meaning you have to keep purchasing the latest package every time a new version becomes available.

What’s Office 365?
“Office 365” refers to subscription plans that include access to Microsoft Office applications in addition to productivity services that are enabled over the Internet (cloud services). Any programs on the cloud are accessible on every one of your desktop and mobile devices.

Many Office 365 plans also include the desktop (locally installed) versions of the latest Microsoft Office applications: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access (Publisher and Access are PC-only). You can install these programs on multiple devices—the total number depends on your subscription plan—including mobile devices such as your iPhone, iPad, or Android phones and tablets. If you have a plan that includes both cloud and desktop software, you’ll receive automatic updates for each application so you’ll always stay up to date.

There are also online-only plans that are designed to work with previously-installed versions of Microsoft Office (if you already have the suite installed on your computer.) You can click here for more details about which versions are supported.

How is Office 365 Cloud-Enabled?
When you use the cloud-based services of Office 365, your documents and files are located and managed remotely on servers owned by Microsoft (you can alternately store things locally on your computer if you choose). This means less IT costs for you because you won’t have to maintain a server on—site at your home or office. Because this infrastructure is located in the cloud, you can access it virtually anywhere, from any computer or mobile device with an Internet connection.

The setup is incredibly easy, and Office 365 offers you step-by-step guidance to get your law firm up and running. Office 365 is highly scalable and can support everything from a one-person business to companies with tens of thousands of users. There are even plans that cater to education and non-profits. Most law firms would fall under a Office 365 Business plan, which can be used with companies up to 300 users. Prices start at $8.25 per user per month for an annual commitment.

If your firm isn’t currently using Office 365 for its productivity needs or if you need more convincing, check out our webinar wrap-up where legal tech guru Allan Mackenzie discuss why all lawyers should use Office 365. Heck, Tom Lambotte, CEO of GlobalMacIT, recommends it just for the e-mail services alone!

With Office 365, you’ll save your firm an insane amount of time and money. And just think about the benefits of having it integrate with a legal practice management system like Rocket Matter! With such powerful capabilities, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.