Microsoft is introducing a new consumer tier to its Microsoft 365 subscription offerings. Priced at just $1.99 per month, Microsoft 365 Basic is designed to replace the 100GB OneDrive storage option with some extra features that sit in between the free option and the $6.99 a month Personal subscription.
Microsoft 365 Basic will be available worldwide on January 30th with 100GB of cloud storage, an ad-free Outlook web and mobile experience, and enhanced security features. The security features include data encryption for an Outlook mailbox, suspicious link checking, and virus / malware scanning for attachments. Existing OneDrive 100GB storage customers will be automatically upgraded to Microsoft 365 Basic at the same $1.99 monthly rate.
“Later this year, we’ll have a bunch of stuff with OneDrive advanced security that will be available as well, that includes Personal Vault, password-protected and expiring links, ransomware detection and recovery, and bulk file restore,” says Gareth Oystryk, director of product marketing for Microsoft 365, in an interview with The Verge.
Microsoft 365 Basic will also include access to Microsoft technical support, which includes help over the phone or via online chat for both Microsoft 365 apps and Windows 11. The main difference between the $6.99 Personal subscription and this new $1.99 Basic one (other than the amount of cloud storage) is that Microsoft 365 Basic doesn’t include access to the desktop versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps. Basic subscribers will have to use the web or mobile versions instead.
“We know many people are using our services today, but some of them run out of storage or want additional benefits that you don’t get with the free Microsoft 365 experience,” says Oystryk. “We also designed this specifically with Windows users in mind.” The Microsoft 365 Basic package is aimed at Windows users that need extra storage but also feels like Microsoft’s way of familiarizing people with its productivity subscriptions.
“Is the Office brand going away entirely? No.”
Microsoft is also renaming its Office app on mobile and Windows to Microsoft 365 later this month. It reflects the branding changes Microsoft announced last year, where Microsoft Office will largely be referred to as Microsoft 365 going forward. “Is the Office brand going away entirely? No,” explains Oystryk. “We’ve really invested a lot in Microsoft 365 and it’s really become our flagship productivity suite, so Office plays less of a role given that’s where our focus is. You’ll still see Office show up in certain contexts. It’s more of a shift in focus where we’re doubling down on Microsoft 365 as our productivity suite, and we want people, when they think of productivity, to think about Microsoft 365 and not Office.”
Later this month will also mark 10 years since Microsoft first introduced consumer subscriptions for Office. Known back then as Office 365 Home Premium, the plan included access to Office desktop apps and 20GB of cloud storage. That’s been increased to 1TB of cloud storage these days, alongside a bunch of features added to the subscription.
“One thing hasn’t changed over the last 10 years: the price,” writes Microsoft vice president Liat Ben-Zur in a blog post. “Microsoft 365 Personal and Family still cost only $6.99 and $9.99 per month, respectively.” While inflation and costs have been pushing up other subscription services over the past decade, Microsoft says it doesn’t have any immediate plans to raise Microsoft 365 prices, but Oystryk doesn’t rule it out for the future.