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  • Rob

Microsoft 365 (over)simplified

Microsoft 365 has all sorts of products and features (and new ones are being added all the time) - but in simple terms, what is what in Microsoft 365?

Think of this as a kind of glossary of words you might see / hear, which I will update as new things come along.

If you'd like to know more about any of these, please get in touch.


The Microsoft 365 account for your organisation / company - everything else mentioned sits somewhere within your tenant.

OneDrive for Business

'My Documents' in the cloud. Each user gets 1TB of storage.

You can store documents and other files, you can share those files with other users (give them access to view or edit). Those users can be other people in your company, or (subject to security policy) External Users (also referred to as Guests) - people from outside your organisation, e.g. partners, customers, clients, etc.

You can sync OneDrive for Business files to work offline on a device such as a laptop, e.g. to work during a flight.


Shared drive / file server in the cloud. A place to collaborate.

(To be fair, that is a massive oversimplification of SharePoint. More coming in another post soon!)

Exchange Online

Exchange server in the cloud. Email, calendar, contacts, tasks, etc.

Each user gets a 50GB mailbox, which you can access using Outlook, your preferred app on your tablet or mobile device, or using your favourite browser (see also OWA).

Distribution Group

Email mailing list.


Outlook Web Access (these days called Outlook On The Web). Basically Webmail, calendar, etc. accessed via a web browser

Shared Mailbox

A type of mailbox that can be accessed by multiple users. Used for things like accounts@, info@, reception@, etc.

Resource Mailbox

Similar to a Shared Mailbox, but meant for bookable things like meeting rooms, pool cars, etc.

You want a meeting in Meeting Room 6?- no problem - invite it, and you will be able to see if it is free, and when you send the invite, the resource mailbox will auto-accept.


Enterprise Social Network - a bit like Facebook, but for your company. Has groups, hashtags, likes, badges, commenting, @mentions, etc.


Similar to Trello. Task and lightweight project management. Requires a Microsoft 365 Group (see below).


A chat-based workspace for teams or groups of users. Like Slack.

Teams is one of the newest products in the Microsoft 365 family.

You can use the Teams app on your desktop, mobile or in a web browser for 1:1 chat, group chats, voice and video calls & meetings (like Skype).

You can also create a Team (which creates a Microsoft 365 Group) and use it as a place for a group of people to collaborate, store files, communicate, meet and get work done - for example the Finance Team, or the Project X Team.

Microsoft 365 Group

OK - not simple - see related posts.

Office Online

Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, all in your browser. Like Google Docs, etc.

If you don't have Office installed on a particular computer, you can use Office Online instead. (Perhaps you're visiting family and need to review a document for work, but they don't have Office installed, or maybe Word is installed on your PC, but you're having problems with it.)

Equally, if you have deskless workers - maybe they just need to check emails once in a while, or read the odd policy document - Office Online and OOTW are a great combination.


Multi Factor Authentication. Sometimes called 2FA - 2 factor authentication. You login using your normal password (1st Factor) and something else, e.g. a code via SMS or a code or approval using an authenticator app on your phone (2nd Factor).

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