The basics: how various (Microsoft account) websites fit together


Hi there,


Apologies if this is the incorrect group to post on. I was not quite sure where my question fits in. I am late to the party... I've been stuck on Windows 7 and Office 2013. Could someone please explain the purpose of each of these 4 Microsoft websites? I know the answers may seem really obvious, however, just for my own clarification from the start I'd really appreciate confirmation.  I'll give it my best guess, and a guess at best it is. I've attached corresponding screenshots. 


I have a Microsoft Business Account setup (1 user, me)


Is this *my* actual* Microsoft account, as in, it's not my organisation's account but rather for me, as an individual? If I added another user to my organisation, would they have exactly the same page for themselves?


Okay... so although this says its "" am I correct in assuming it is only the Admin account for Microsoft 365? So really if it were named entirely explicitly it would be ? But why then are there references to Azure? Mmm... is this the Admin page of my entire organisation - and indeed - everything Microsoft falling under my Organisation's business account?


Now I know that this says "office 365"... but in my mind Office includes excel, power point, word, etc. But here I see references to power bi, and a security centre, and even a whole world of Add-in apps I can add. Okay... so has the definition of "office" changed from just being excel, word etc And if so, what is the new all inclusive definition now? 



Right. Now this is embarrassing. I must be one of the LAST people around who doesn't actual fully understand what Azure is... I see I can access it from (1). Mmm... my understanding of Azure is "servers sitting at Microsoft offering all sorts of server type services... a little like AWS". Am I right? And Am I right that Azure is an entirely independent "branch" of functionally to Microsoft 365? 


Goodness. I'm looking forward to a "layman's reply." Please, I need some simple words here to encapsulate and put boundaries around each of the above. If at all possible.


Thank you in advance,






2 Replies

Let me add to the confusion :)


Because you have a "business" account, it's technically not *yours*, but belongs to your company/organization, as in the entity you configured when initially creating the tenant. So while you can access your info and even configure some settings in the myaccount portal, there can be situations where certain things are handled only by the organization's IT stuff. And the admin portal (2) is the primary interface for performing many of these tasks. Primary, but far from being the only one, in fact there are a dozen or so "admin" portals as part of the service currently. The Azure portal (4) being one of them, specifically the Azure AD is the "directory" where all user's data is stored. For a one-man shop, you really shouldnt care much about those though.


The Office landing page (3) is where the end user will usually end up (or start from), and it's intended to offer a quick overview of all his apps and data stored within the service. How successful it is in this regard is up for debate.


And yes, there's a lot of confusion that stems from bad naming conventions used by the marketing folks. Office 365 can mean both the set of desktop apps (Word, Excel, etc) and the cloud service that hosts your email, stores your documents and so on. Nowadays they've rebranded the former to "Microsoft Apps", which is hardly an improvement if you ask me. And there's a lot of overlap with other Microsoft services, such as Azure, as you've already noted.


Again, for an end user/one-man shop, you shouldnt be concerned with those too much. Use the desktop apps as you've used to do in the past, take a stroll through the landing page to explore the other parts of the service, and if you want to learn more, watch some of the video materials Microsoft has posted online.

Goodness. That isn’t straight forward. I am a one man shop but a one man that wants to understand, so off to trawl for those videos. Thank you for the detailed and helpful reply!