What is Microsoft Office?

By Katelyn Kelley

Microsoft Office is a suite of software productivity tools for Windows and Macintosh aimed at large and small business owners. All licensing options contain these main programs: Word (word processing), Excel (spreadsheet/charts) and Powerpoint (presentations). Depending on your operating system and license choice, additional software may be included in the suite.

License Options

Macintosh licenses include Home and Student (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage), Standard (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Entourage, plus Microsoft Server Exchange Support and Automator Actions for Workflows) and Special Media (all of the above plus Microsoft Expression Media). Windows licenses include Home and Student (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote), Standard (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook), Small Business (same as Standard plus Accounting Express and Publisher), Professional (same as small business plus Access) and Ultimate (includes all previously mentioned programs).


Word allows you to easily complete a wide range of word processing tasks from the simple letter to the complex business brochure to a multi-page professional newsletter or academic work with citations.


With Excel you can enter data into a spreadsheet workbook, easily create charts from that data, sort and filter local or remote data with database functions and automate tasks using macros and Visual Basic for Application (VBA) commands.


PowerPoint allows you to create professional business presentations using text, graphics and other multimedia. Creating a presentation is a simple as click and type. PowerPoint uses intuitive help text to show you where and what to type.

Macintosh Specific Components

Macintosh versions of Office also include Entourage (email and time management/project management tool) and Expression Media (a media cataloging tool). Part of Entourage is a separate desktop "to-do" list utility called My Day.

Windows Specific Components

Windows versions of Office include OneNote (digital notebook), Outlook (email and time management), Access (database), Publisher (desktop publishing), Groove (collaboration tool) and InfoPath (information gathering/forms tool).