The difference between Office365 and SharePoint

Office 365 / SharePoint Blog

In rolling this system out to the masses, I think we might be confusing ourselves and others with the words we’re using. When meeting various people in the division, it became very clear that we need to clarify some things, because everyone is calling everything SharePoint or Office365 and not really knowing which parts are which.

Some of the confusions we came to

Office365 includes a bunch of different things, and SharePoint is just one of those. But… the SharePoint we see in Office365 is called Sites, and the page where the Sites live, is really our MySite.

That’s why, when we talk about SharePoint, many people are missing out on the fact that we have this whole Intranet built out for our division. They’re never getting there. We built a SharePoint Bridge Page that lives outside of SharePoint so it’s accessible without needing to log in. This page provides links to various parts of SharePoint but because our users are logging in to Office365 they never really see those, so they don’t see our central communication hub where all the announcements live.

How can I help the situation?

As I start thinking about my role here as SharePoint Business Architect and Administrator, I am thinking about how I can clear up the confusion.

Hopefully my experience in marketing can help this move along, and undo some of the confusion that’s been surfacing.

So what is Office365?

Office365 is essentially the Microsoft Office Suite but in an online environment. In other words, it’s Office on the web. You access Office365 by logging into The process for logging into Office365 is the same as that for SharePoint, but where you end up can be very different.

Once you log into Office365, you can set your default screen to be one of three views:


Here you see the office icons you’re used to, such as Word Online, Excel Online, PowerPoint Online, OneNote Online, and some you may never have seen before: Delve, Sway, Newsfeed, OneDrive, and Sites. From this screen, you can open any of the applications or open your MySite (see below).


OneDrive is where all of your document live, at least those you have synchronized from your C:\ drive. OneDrive does not include files and documents you may have on your departmental shared drive, such as an O:\ drive. You probably have some folders in your OneDrive so you could organize your documents. Your word documents, excel spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations all live here. Your OneNote files may also live here, though technically they are not files, but packages… I digress. For many people, this is all they care about when it comes to Office365/SharePoint/any of it. Just give me my files, and I’m happy…. Yes?

A nice feature of OneDrive is that your files are always accessible to you, no matter where you are. In addition, you can choose to share specific files with other people, as well as complete folders. This means that you can work collaboratively on files.

It will be a personal or team decision whether (or which of) these files should live on your OneDrive or on SharePoint Online in a document library.

Sites (MySite)

The Sites view is your MySite. It shows all the sites you are following currently. If you’re not following any, don’t worry. As you begin to visit sites, you can use the FOLLOW buttons to add sites to this MySite page. You can also create your own personal SharePoint site here if you would like to, and if you created one, you will find it here under the Sites view. I have a love/hate relationship with my MySite. I inadvertently broke it to the point where Microsoft didn’t even know how they were going to fix it, and I had to back up all my data. Since Microsoft restored my MySite back in November or December (I forget when), I think I broke it again.

So, a word of caution… if you want to create personal MySites – go ahead. If you plan on putting any team related things there, you might be best to create a subsite under your Team Site – just talk to your site owner about the use for it.

So what is SharePoint, then?

As I noted, SharePoint Online is a platform within Office365, but the SharePoint Online environment kind of lives outside of the Office365 environment as far as our personal experience goes.

When we talk about SharePoint, we really mean the sites that we created within the SharePoint Online platform. In many companies, these are department and committee sites.

Within our division, when we talk about SharePoint, we are also talking about one of the sites in our intranet environment that we have designated as the central communication hub.


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