Microsoft adds free version of Visio to its MS 365 offering

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Business users of the platform will have access to a “lightweight” version of the Visio web app

Microsoft announced this week that it is is adding a new, scaled-down version of its Visio diagramming web app to Microsoft 365 for business customers. This marks the first such offering the company has made. Until now, Visio has been available only as a standalone app for purchase.

The rollout of the new lightweight Visio web app is due in July. Microsoft plans to make the app available to Microsoft 365 Business, Office 365 E1/E3/E5, F3, A1, A3, and A5 users.

Inspired by the post-COVID hybrid work model

Seth Patton, General Manager, Microsoft 365, detailed the new offering in a blog post. “With the shift to hybrid work comes the need for business leaders to create a new, flexible operating model,” he writes. “Every business process will need to be transformed and diagrams are often the starting point for many process updates. They enable leaders across the organization to improve and visually communicate processes to help employees adapt quickly to change. And Microsoft Visio is the premier diagramming solution that enables anyone to create and visualize their business processes, data, and so much more.”

“Visio has long been available only as a standalone app for purchase for people with specialized diagramming needs,” Patton explains. “But this is changing.”

“We are recognizing an increasing need for a diagramming solution for everyone to convey information more effectively,” he continues. “Which is why we’re excited to announce that we’ll be bringing core Visio capabilities to Microsoft 365 for all commercial license subscribers.”

The new lightweight version of the web app will offer core Visio functionalities, Patton affirms. It will allow business users to create, edit, and share professional diagrams. Users with more specialized diagramming needs will continue to derive value from the standalone plans, he adds. These include Visio Plan 1 and Visio Plan 2.

Still, the web app in the Microsoft 365 subscription is intended to be a powerful tool for essential needs. It will soon be available in the Microsoft 365 suite, but those who don’t want top wait can sign up for Visio in Microsoft 365 early access.