Happy fifth birthday, Office 365!

Kellogg Brengel

Today marks the fifth birthday for Office 365 for Business. The cloud-based productivity suite entered general availability on June 28th, 2011 after first being announced in October 2010.

When it launched, Office 365  brought Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Suite, Exchange Server, Sharepoint, and Lync into a single SaaS cloud offering. It was a sensible integration of multiple Microsoft online services into a single cloud platform, but it was also a response to the growing popularity of Google’s own cloud-based productivity suite, Google Apps for Work.

Technically, Google Apps for Work launched five years before Office 365 when Gmail for Your Domain became available on August 28th, 2006. Google then followed up in 2008 with its own cloud-based intranet competitor to SharePoint. And in July 2010 Google announced Google Apps, with Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk combined into a productivity suite.

The growth of Office 365

While Microsoft may have been a little late to the cloud-based productivity game, and SaaS business models in general, Office 365 has grown into a substantial business. Office 365 now offers business, education and home variants, and the suite also now incorporates Microsoft’s 2012 acquisition of social networking platform Yammer. And Office 365 has continually gained more advanced features like Microsoft Power BI to give the suite of a full range of data mining tools and Advanced Security Management for Office 365.

Office 365 continues to get more intelligent with tools like Power BI
Office 365 continues to get more intelligent with tools like Power BI

There have also been new Office apps introduced over the years. Apps like Delve, Planner, and Flow were introduced to help businesses be more productive and stay on top of their workflows.

Microsoft also envisions Office 365 as a platform.  The company has introduced a robust set of APIs for developers to use in building Office 365 add-ins. As a result, customers can more closely integrate Office 365 with other cloud services like Dropbox, Box, or Salesforce, and hail an Uber or send a Starbucks gift card from within Outlook.

Qi Lu executive VP of Office 365 showing off new features at Build 2016
Qi Lu executive VP of Office 365 showing off new features at Build 2016

The growth of Microsoft’s cloud-based productivity services has continued to be a bright spot for the company’s financial performance. And just last year, Microsoft overtook Google Apps for Work in market share. But Google is not letting up, with competitive offers to entice Microsoft customers to switch, and the search engine giant continues to hold strong presence among SMBs who might be turned off by the enterprise-y feel of Microsoft’s options.

Office 365 has been incorporated in organizations of all types, from the largest businesses to the smallest classrooms, to home offices and government offices alike. And the rate of new features and the growth of its capabilities bodes well for its future.

So happy fifth birthday Office 365, we look forward to seeing what the next five years hold. Let us know in the comments how Office 365 has impacted your productivity.