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January 11, 2023

Looking back at 10 years of Microsoft 365 making history

It’s hard to imagine the world without ubiquitous access to Office apps, right? Ten years of Microsoft 365 is the milestone we’re so excited to celebrate. But a proper celebration should include an understanding of just how far our favorite productivity software has come beyond just its first 10 years in the cloud.

Looking back at 10 years of Microsoft 365 making history

1988: The year of the first Internet worm, Rain Man, and the Office announcement

Let’s go back to Bill Gates’s first announcement of the suite at COMDEX 1988 in Las Vegas, Nevada (about which the Chicago Tribune witheringly reported, “Walking through the Microsoft Corp. booth is still like going to a casting call for Revenge of the Nerds, Part III.”i).

At the time, COMDEX was the place to be—one of the biggest computer trade shows in the world. Dropping an announcement at COMDEX was a big deal, and the announcement of Microsoft’s forthcoming bundled office suite was a big deal.

No one knew how big a deal, though. Not yet.

The Microsoft Office for Windows was released October 1, 1990; it featured Word 1.1, Excel 2.0, and PowerPoint 2.0.ii And it was about to change the way we use computers day to day.

The original trio

The Microsoft Office brand is synonymous with productivity software, but the origin of the name lies in the rather generic term “office suite,” what the world had already been calling packaged software suites designed for the new wave of workers who were getting acquainted with the computers at their desks. Microsoft Office started with three mighty applications, each of which still loom large in the Microsoft 365 family: Excel, PowerPoint, and Word.

Microsoft Excel

Believe it or not, Excel 1.0 was available for Mac OS a full two years before it could be found on Windows.iii Both Excel 1.0 and Windows 1.01 debuted in 1985, but Excel couldn’t be used on a Windows OS until the debut of Windows 2.0 in 1987.

Microsoft PowerPoint

When we really love something, we just have to have it. Microsoft acquired PowerPoint—then known as Presenter—from Forethought, Inc. in summer of 1987, months after they’d released it for Mac.iv Inauspicious beginnings for presentation software that now has an estimated 95% worldwide market share, no?v

Microsoft Word

Word 1.0 debuted October 25, 1983iii, but it wouldn’t be available on Windows until 1989. Interestingly, Microsoft Office wasn’t the only Word-related software announced at COMDEX ’88. There was a relevant Microsoft debut over in the Atari booth: Microsoft Write for the Atari, a port of Microsoft Word 1.05 for Mac. Its display was reported by ST-Log at the time as, “another booth that seemed to repell [sic] onlookers.”vi Looks like they weren’t working with spell check.

Office 2013 and Office 365: Ushering in a new era of productivity

After 23 years on our desktops, Office took to the cloud. In 2013, Office 365 launched and became the premiere way for consumers to engage with the Microsoft Office suite via subscription-based access.

This wasn’t Office’s first foray onto the Internet; in October 2010, Office 365 first entered private beta and was positioned to replace Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), online productivity software specifically for corporate users.vii But 2013 saw the expansion of the Office 365 offering—including plans for the general population who aren’t buying enterprise software for an entire workforce.

You could argue that the changes that would come to the suite over the next decade would outstrip all the change in the preceding 23 years; let’s break it down, year by year.

Ten years of Microsoft 365 making history

Ten years of setting the online productivity standard

When change happens incrementally, it can be hard to notice. Whether you’re new to Microsoft 365 or you’ve been with us since January 2013, you might not remember when, exactly, your favorite features or that one thing you simply can’t do without debuted. Let’s take a trip down software update lane.


In January 2013, Office 365 Home Premium debuted with subscription options for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, Access, and world minutes through Skype, plus 20 GB of SkyDrive storage. Hot on the heels of the debut, Office Mobile was released for iPhone in June of the same year, providing on-the-go access to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint subscribers (and, later, non-subscribers).


The second year of Office 365 saw both big growth and big change. January ushered in the retirement of the SkyDrive brand and the unveiling of the new OneDrive brand. Storing everything on the cloud got even easier midway through the year when storage space expanded from 20 GB to 1 TB for paid subscribers.

Office Web Apps underwent its own rebrand, too, in February, becoming Office Online. In turn, became the place to find and use Office while online. Office for iPad debuted, bringing Word, PowerPoint, and Excel to even more on-the-go users. Spring was in full bloom when Office 365 Personal joined the family, offering single-user subscriptions for the first time. 2014 ended with a big pre-holiday change to the iPhone offering: dedicated, stand-alone Office 365 apps for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.


2015 was the year of the on-the-go creator! January ushered in Outlook Mobile for Android and iPhone, putting the email client Office users know and love into pockets everywhere. Office for Android arrived over the summer, giving Android users what iPhone users had back in ’13: smartphone access to their Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents from anywhere. Collaborators rejoiced in September when real-time co-authoring came to online apps and more than one person could work on the same file at the same time. AI joined the party in November when PowerPoint added AI-based tools Designer and Morph.


Digital hoarders, rejoice! The October release of OneDrive Files On-Demand meant you could keep more of your beloved files in the cloud without taking up precious hard drive space. We also saw the addition of premium-level perks inside web-based inboxes.


Office 365 celebrated five years in the cloud with robust safety and security upgrades. Ransomware detection and recovery and password-protected sharing links joined the OneDrive feature family; launched email encryption and the ability to prevent forwarding.

It became easier to forward on your love for Office 365, however: Subscriptions for Office 365 Home started covering six seats per household.


Being increasingly connected doesn’t mean you don’t still have to know how to captivate an audience. June of 2019 brought the presenter coach (now speaker coach) addition to PowerPoint, providing integrated coaching help for your pre-presentation practicing. Leading a connected life did gain more organization tools, though, with the new version of Microsoft To Do

and the addition of Personal Vault to OneDrive. Personal Vault brought security robust enough for the most sensitive digital info to the anywhere access of OneDrive.


A new decade brought another growth spurt for Office 365. Office Mobile made way for the new-and-improved Office app. Microsoft Editor debuted in February, giving wordsmiths everywhere even better help while they work—right at their fingertips. Forms became available for personal use and Microsoft Family Safety brought our families new and better ways to keep our data and ourselves safer in our connected world.

But perhaps the biggest change in 2020? The announcement of a name change. We enter the Microsoft 365 era—because these tools aren’t just for work, they’re for life.


Microsoft Teams—a quarantine-comms favorite—broke free of the office with personal features and personal at-home accounts.


Microsoft Defender debuted in June. Work and life are as online as ever, so Microsoft 365 made securing your data and devices easier with a single unified view of everything you (and your household) have online. Defender’s defenses don’t end there: It also debuted with antivirus protection, anti-phishing protection, and identity theft monitoring.

Creators of all kinds got some great new tools of the trade, too. Clipchamp, a new video editor, joined the Microsoft 365 family and became available in 2022. Announced at the end of the year was Designer, a far-reaching evolution of PowerPoint’s Designer feature allowing creators to dream up beautiful work across multiple platforms and supported by DALL-E 2 AI technology. While a live demo is available now, the full version of Designer will debut later in 2023.

We might not know what the next 10 years of Microsoft 365 has in store, but chances are everything but the cost will expand. Let’s look at the numbers from the last decade:

  • Double the number of apps
  • 50x the amount of cloud storage
  • No price increases

Keeping the use-anywhere tools you love easy to access and affordable is what brings the most value to Microsoft 365, year after year. Here’s to another decade of progress!

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