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Getting started with Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft’s Office 365 is a suite of online and offline productivity tools. The Ministry funds Microsoft to provide the Professional Plus (ProPlus) version of Office 365. This page is intended to provide a step-by-step overview of the one-off process to sign up a school or individual to use the Office 365 product suite. It should be able to be followed by people with a reasonable amount of technical ability.

Useful links

Signing up

There are two ways for New Zealand teachers and students to sign up to Office 365


The school’s technical support administrator signs up the school as a whole and creates an account for all users that require one. This process can be automated by using the free Azure AD Connect service to connect the directory of users running on the school’s current server with Microsoft’s cloud-based Azure directory.


A teacher, administrator, or student signs up as an individual using a valid school email address. This provisions all services to the user with the exception of email (so as to avoid any interruption of school email services if hosted elsewhere)

In most cases, signing up the whole school makes sense as this will provide greater functionality, particularly around collaboration. Both options are outlined below.

1. Signing up as a school

You may already have Office 365 set up as a school. If so, you will be able to sign in at the office portal  and will be able see the People icon containing members of your school.

If the school has not already been set up, get support from Datacom to carry out the initial licensing process:


2. Signing up as an individual teacher or student

Any teacher or student with any valid New Zealand school email account can sign up for Office 365 by visiting Office 365 Education . This will give access to students or teachers to download and install the Office software on up to five devices as well as provide the browser-based Office apps. It will not provide an email account or other access to school-based shared resources.

Which Office version?

There are two versions of the Office software applications that schools can deploy to eligible devices

Office 2019 is accessed from Microsoft's Volume Licensing Service Centre . This also provides the software installation packages used by technicians to deploy the applications over a network onto eligible devices. Office is provided as a one time purchase paid for by the Ministry. This is no longer the recommended deployment method, as new features are released directly to Office365 subscription based installations (see below).

Office 365 ProPlus is accessed from an individual’s office portal  webpage or by using Office 365 ProPlus deployment tools to deploy the applications over a network onto eligible shared or single-user devices. Office 365 ProPlus is provided as a subscription paid for by the Ministry.

There are a number of differences between Office 365 ProPlus and Office 2019 applications. Critically, the Office 365 ProPlus version is updated more frequently than the Office 2019 version installed via Volume Licensing. This means that if you use both deployment methods in your school they can become out of step with each other as new features are added. While deploying Office 2019 via Volume Licensing was the only appropriate method to install Microsoft Office in the past, it should now be considered a legacy method. Instead, Microsoft strongly recommends that schools migrate all of their users to Office 365 ProPlus so that students, teachers, and administrators are all using exactly the same version of the software.

Accessing professional learning

Professional learning about the Microsoft products can be accessed through:

  • Microsoft Education Community – Online training, product specific skills, lesson outlines, and community interaction.
  • Microsoft Learning Consultants – Professional development for schools and teachers, delivered by qualified teachers that are experts with Microsoft Office365 and related tools.

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