Explaining the Jargon of Office 365 Hosted Email

Office 365 – The Jargon Explained!

Having an understanding of the following email terms can help you make the most of your Office 365 subscription. We have highlighted below some key terms and explained their usefulness and associated cost, within an Office 365 environment (or ‘tenancy’, as Microsoft calls it).


A Mailbox is an email address attached to a ‘container’. Email sent to the email address is stored in the container which you then access to view. In Office 365 there is a monthly charge for each container you have. You can access this container from Outlook, a web browser, or one of the many mail applications available on mobile devices and tablets. The key thing here is that the container is the same, no matter where you access it from. So, if you delete a mail message via your iPhone mail app, for example, it will disappear from Outlook on your PC too.


An Alias is an alternate email attached to the container. You can set up several alternate email addresses as aliases, attached to the same container. Any email sent to any of these email addresses (aliases) is delivered to the same mailbox. In Office 365 there is no monthly charge for an alias, so you might have a Linda Smith (everyone needs a Linda Smith!) in Accounts, who has a mailbox address of linda@abc.com and who also receives accounts@abc.com. You would only pay for the Mailbox address here.

Distribution Group

A Distribution Group is an email address that is not attached to a container. Once created, you can add any of your existing mailboxes / aliases to the Group to receive email that is sent to the address of the Distribution Group. It works in a similar way to a mailbox alias but has the benefit of being delivered into multiple containers. In Office 365 Distribution groups are free as well!


We hope you’ve found the above to be useful. Knowing the key differences will allow you to make informed choices as to how many actual mailboxes (containers) you need and, through a bit of planning and organisation, you can save money through the use of aliases and Distribution Groups.