Outlook vs vs the Outlook Web App

Between terms like Outlook, Outlook Web App, Office 365, Microsoft Accounts, it’s easy to get confused and not know what it all means. The similar naming patterns may be good for marketing, but it makes it difficult to look up information or troubleshoot whenever problems arise.

Hotmail computer

Outlook as a Brand

The “Outlook” brand basically covers everything focused on email;

  • Outlook is the email client for Microsoft Office
  • is where you can find an online mail account – (formally Hotmail)
  • The Outlook Web App is a web-based mail client built into the Microsoft Exchange Server, which can also be used by Live@EDU users and those subscribed to Office 365 for Business and Exchange Online.

There are also other mail clients that are part of the Outlook family;

  • Outlook for Mac
  • Outlook Mobile for Windows Phone
  • Outlook Calendar for Windows 10
  • Outlook Mail for Windows 10
  • Outlook RT for Surface RT and Surface 2
  • Outlook Express for Windows XP
  • Outlook Web App for Android, iPhone, and iPad

Office 365 for Home vs Office 365 for Business vs Office 2013

There’s some confusion about the Office brand as it refers not just to the Office application itself, but also a subscription-based license for using Office and the subscription-based service for solutions about products from Microsoft.

  • Office 2013 is one of the latest versions of Microsoft Office. There are a few different versions available, all of which can be purchased and used on your computer. Office Home Student 2013 is the cheapest version but it doesn’t come with Mail. You will need either Office Home and Business or Office Professional for Hotmail.
  • Office 365 for Business is a subscription service that provides users with access to online Microsoft Server products including Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync. You can subscribe to individual services as required, or subscribe to the a package deal that includes all of them. The package deal may also come with a license for the latest version of Microsoft Office that you can then install to your computer.
  • Office 365 for Home is a subscription service for the latest Microsoft Office release. It is essentially a way to “hire” a license to Office. It will include Outlook, but it won’t come with an Exchange Online account. You can still configure one of your own using an account or another IMAP, POP3, or Exchange account.

Logging in With A Microsoft or Account

You are now able to use your Microsoft Account to log into Microsoft Office and your Windows computer. It can be used in combination with Microsoft’s cloud-based services such as OneDrive. This stores files in the cloud for you so that you can access them on any computer when traveling.

Every account automatically doubles as a Microsoft Account, but you can also create a new account or convert an existing email address into a Microsoft account at

Signing up doesn’t mean that the address is automatically converted into an account. You will still be able to use it how you did before. However, there is the option to use the account for if you want to.

So, you are able to log into a Windows computer and Office with your account, but that doesn’t mean that you have to also configure the account for Outlook itself. Outlook can also be used with other accounts that you own.

In a similar vein, you can sign up to a Microsoft account using your regular email address. Then you are able to sign into Office and Windows with this email address and use it for Mail as you would with other accounts.

To check the accounts currently configured with Outlook simply use;

File > Account Settings > Accounting Settings > E-mail