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How Microsoft Office 365 Changed the Way We Work

Microsoft is an easily recognisable company that has significantly impacted the world. The widely popular Microsoft Office 365 licensing software contains familiar programs such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, among others that have been added over the years.

Microsoft was founded in 1975 by Harvard dropout Bill Gates and his friend Paul Allen. Since then, the company has seen immense growth in various markets, from businesses to consumers. Microsoft is a multinational computer technology company that has become one of the most valuable companies in the world.

The company began in 1975 but did not get its “big break” until 1980, when it partnered with IBM (International Business Management), which resulted in the creation of a DOS (Disk Operating System) for IBM personal computers. A decade later, Bill Gates revealed the plans for Microsoft’s future and introduced the operating system Windows 3.0.

A crucial part of Microsoft’s development into a leading global company was the creation of Microsoft Office in the late 1980s. This collection of applications, services, and technologies has been updated and changed dozens of times since its creation. We have to go back to the beginning for a complete understanding of how this software has impacted the world and workforce.

Creation of Microsoft Office

In 1983, Microsoft launched its Multi-Tool Word, laying the foundation for Microsoft Office. Multi-Tool Word was the first version of what we know as Word. This software was developed by Xerox programmers Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie, who the founders of Microsoft hired. This tool was “what you see is what you get” software, which means the way it displays a document on a computer screen is how it would look after you printed it.

Between its launch and the launch of Microsoft Office, the company improved Word with new features, including spell check and word count. This introductory program is significantly different from the Word we are familiar with today as new versions have been released almost every two years.

Microsoft re-coded this program so it would function on different operating systems, and in 1990 the first version of Microsoft Office was released. Office 10 included the basic programs Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Since then, many new versions have been released with additional programs, development changes, and name changes. In 2023 Microsoft plans to phase out the name Office 365 to Microsoft 365. 

Timeline of Updates & Changes to Office

Microsoft Office 365 licensing software has had the most significant impact on businesses. Its programs have revolutionised people’s work, enhancing productivity, communication, collaboration, and data management. But it has taken a few decades to reach the efficiency it currently provides.

1990 – 1995

The first launch of Microsoft Office was in 1990, with foundations from the original Word program. Between 1990 and 1994, Office versions included the applications Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Microsoft Mail, Office Manager, and Access. The versions released during these years contained minor upgrades to the functions of Word and Excel for improved usability.

In 1995, Office added new features like Publisher, and programs received a change to version numbers to match that of Office, which was designated by year (Office 95). For example, before this change, during Office 4.0 in 1994, the versions of the applications were Word 6.0, Excel 4.0, and PowerPoint 3.0. Microsoft correctly determined that was a confusing way to name the programs, which was beneficial with the many version updates that were to come.

1996 – 2007

Microsoft made a small addition to Office in 1996 by introducing Office Assistant. Also, the company made user interface additions to Word. Then in 1997, Office 97 was published on CD-Rom and floppy disks.

In 1999, Microsoft introduced many application updates that improved user experience and security with Office 2000. Barely a year later, in mid-2001, Microsoft released Office XP, which provided those working in a restricted mode in corporate networks access to almost all features.

In 2003, the release of the Microsoft Office System saw its first major overhaul of application designs and many functionalities and security features. It was the first Office system that Microsoft blended with Windows XP. Microsoft would again change the user interface in 2007 with the addition of the Office Fluent user interface (also called the Ribbon) and a comprehensive set of tools for creating and sharing documents across Office applications.

2010 – 2013

A significant change was made in 2010 that made basic applications like the big three (Word, Excel, & PowerPoint) available for free on the web with Office Web Apps. It enabled users to continue their work on their PCs, smartphones, or Web browsers without paying for multiple subscriptions. At this point, Office had various editions that offered more applications based on your subscription. The highest edition included the big three, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, InfoPath, SharePoint, and Lync (which was later replaced by Skype).

Another significant change was made in 2012 when Microsoft released Office 2013 and Office 365 licenses with cloud computing integrations and Touch for using Office on tablets and touch-screen devices. This transition to cloud-based software has transformed the tech industry for businesses and colleges.


More versions of Office 365 license types were released from 2013 to 2019 that optimised mobile usability, created a tighter cloud integration, and improved the big three and other popular apps. In 2019 features like Icons and language translation was added to the software. It was also when Microsoft introduced the name change from Office 365 licensing to Microsoft 365.

In 2021, the latest version of Microsoft Office was released, which received an updated design and many new features, including motion graphics, editing tools, translation, and more. This version allows users to avoid a subscription with a standalone version of Office. Office 2021 will be the last version of Office 365 licensing, with a rebranding to Microsoft 365 licenses planned for 2023.

Contributions to How We Work

The significance of Microsoft Office software in every industry is profound. While access to applications depends on your subscription to Office 365 license types, even the basics are beneficial. For good reasons, Microsoft Office software is the leading technology in the business world. It improves productivity, efficiency, communication, data management, and more while maintaining compliance with specific industry regulations and security standards.Implementing this software is sure to enhance your business. If you are interested in using it, check out our IT consulting services at Optimising IT for customised assistance. We offer Microsoft 365 services that are fully managed so you unlock the full potential of Microsoft 365.

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