The Difference Between SharePoint Online and Office 365


If you are unacquainted to the world of Document Management Systems, SharePoint, Enterprise Level Content Management (ECM) System; then you might have heard about Office 365 or SharePoint Online interchangeably. There is a common contradiction about Office 365 and SharePoint Online that they both share the similar capabilities; but to accurately decide on that one needs to understand the differences between them. In this blogpost, we have list down all the fundamental differences between Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint Online, that will help you make you understand them better.

SharePoint Explained!

Let’s begin with understanding SharePoint. SharePoint is an enterprise-level collaborative platform created and managed by Microsoft, and it has been over 19 years, SharePoint has been ruling the corporate world. Formerly, SharePoint was only considered to be an intranet tool which also allowed employees to attain better internal collaboration. Primarily, SharePoint development was only used as a Document Management System, but what actually set it apart from other such systems was its capability to share and organize different content types too such as tasks, events, announcements, links etc. But now, SharePoint is considered to be a one-stop shop for sharing and managing any type of information within your organization; mainly because of the fact that SharePoint has changed throughout these years in terms on look, feel and most importantly functionality. And, the most drastic change occurred, when SharePoint became the part of Microsoft Office 365.

What Is Office 365?

One of the very crucial development took place in 2011-2012 in the world of IT, when Microsoft decided to take its application to the cloud. It was quite the trend back in those days, as a lot of companies were embarking upon the cloud decisions. Hence, Microsoft decided to do the same. This means that all the applications created by Microsoft will be able to run through Microsoft’s cloud servers and can be easily accessed via websites. This also made organizations less bound to buy hardware or install software over their physical servers. This decision has made all the Microsoft software available at any computer system or digital device simply with the use of internet connection and browser.

Additionally, Microsoft bundled all its good applications such as MS Outlook, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, MS Excel, Skype, MS Teams, SharePoint etc. and named it as the Microsoft Office 365 Suite. Hence,

SharePoint Online Vs. Office 365

One thing that we find our clients confusing over is usually about how SharePoint Online and Office 365 is different from each other. Having an extensive experience in hand and after dealing so many client installations for both SharePoint Online and Office 365, we are specialized in understanding multiple variation of these platforms. Saying that, we admit the fact that these terminologies can be confusing for anyone who is new to the platform; hence below we have tried to explain the differences that exist between these two while trying to answering all the potential question that may arise in your mind, while differentiating between them.

In this way, SharePoint became a small part of big puzzle which exists in the Office 365 eco-system. Moreover, Microsoft has been adding new applications to the Office 365 suite, such as Power Automate, MS Teams, Power Apps, MS Stream, Planner and others. What makes SharePoint even unique is its remarkable integration with most of the applications other than Office 365, solidifying its reputation as a one-stop-shop. The application mix that you will get with Office 365 depends on the subscription plan that you acquire for your company.

When It’s Best to Use Office 365?

If you are still confused about when you should use Office 365 and when it is ideal to use SharePoint Online, then here we have simplified the ideas for you in the following points.

Office 365 is best to use when;

  • Workplace collaboration is desired to be uncomplicated with Office 365 and you don’t require a lot of content. It is best-suited especially when you are using Office 365 Teams.
  • You need file-bases storage with ease-of-use.
  • You need personal file management across your devices. OneDrive comes up as the best bet over here.
  • You require your large files to be readily emailed. Again, OneDrive serves as a very strong option here.

When It Is Ideal to Bet On SharePoint Online?

SharePoint Online is ideal to be used;

  • When collaboration at workplace requires tight maintenance and security and is complex to be managed.
  • When you need custom views such as in metadata.
  • Content management necessitates for custom workflow.
  • When data types are required to be configurable.
  • When you require complex security requirements for certain content types.


These are the ideal case scenarios for each of these platforms. But if you are still confused, you can talk to our in-house experts that are more than happy to help and guide you making the right Office 365 and SharePoint decision for your enterprise. Schedule a Free SharePoint Consultation Call Now.