Microsoft Forms is a basic form builder that you can access as part of Business or Education Office 365 – but not if you have a personal subscription. It’s super-simple to use, but it lacks any features that would really make it useful. Quite frankly, there are much better options – read on to find out which ones I recommend.
Basic Form Builder That Makes Subscribing Complicated
Microsoft Forms is an online form builder that’s part of the Office 365 platform – but it’s not available for everyone – only Business and Education users get free access to Microsoft Forms, and you can’t purchase it separately, either.
It’s a fairly basic form builder that’s easy to use, but it lacks the advanced features that dedicated form builders often include, such as conditional logic and integrations with third-party apps. It does, however, support over 75 languages, including Russian, Polish, Czech, and Hebrew.
Overall, the form builder has the tools for creating a variety of interactive forms – but is that enough to make you want to purchase Office 365 for Business or Education? Keep reading to find out if it has what you need, or if you’d be better off with one of the alternatives, like JotForm or Ninja Forms.
Microsoft Forms throws in 12 templates to help you get started, and, according to its FAQ, all forms are optimized for a variety of mobile and desktop browsers – but “optimized” doesn’t necessarily mean mobile responsive. I’m still waiting for Microsoft to confirm whether its forms are actually responsive.
Templates include a customer feedback survey, a course feedback survey, and an event registration form – business as usual. But then there’s also an animal quiz (but don’t let your students see the answers below!), a birthday party invitation template, and a wedding save-the-date template.
I get that Microsoft Forms is designed for business and education users, but this selection of templates seems like a load of ideas were tossed into a hat and 12 were selected at random. Seriously, how does a wedding save-the-date form template fit into a product aimed at business and education users?
It seems like the templates were selected at a time when Microsoft Forms was going to be offered to Personal/Home Office 365 users – and then they changed their minds but forgot to add a relevant set of templates.
Not only are the template types pretty random, they’re also mediocre and pretty basic. You can customize the templates with your own questions, change the theme (i.e., the backdrop behind the form), and use the arrows on the question fields to move the questions up and down.Explore Microsoft Forms Templates
Simple Form Features That Fail to Impress
Microsoft Forms gives you the basics for building forms for your business, or for academic research, but it doesn’t really extend beyond the basics. You have limited choices when it comes to adding new form fields or building your form from scratch.
You can choose from:
Likert scale (a scale of choices, with ranges of options like “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”)
Net Promoter Score (used to gauge whether customers would recommend your business to others)
“Choice” or radio buttons (to select just one response, rather than multiple)
There are no options for fields such as file upload or autosuggest, so you’re limited in what you can do with Microsoft Forms.
When it comes to using your forms with customers, students, or parents, there are several “send” options. You can create an email to contact respondents directly, use the auto-generated QR code, or share a link to your form via messaging or social media.
There’s also the option to embed your form on a website using iframe, but I wouldn’t recommend this option. Embedding can cause lots of issues, such as putting your website at risk of cross-site scripting (malicious attacks), not working well (or at all) on mobile devices, and having a negative impact on SEO.
The feature that Microsoft seems so proud of (since it suggests you use it the moment you create your first form) is its Theme Selector button. With the theme selector, you can change the backdrop of your form with a single click, and you see a preview of what it will look like, too.
The themes available are a bit hit-or-miss, with some professional-looking backdrops (as you can see in the screenshot above), among some truly awful themes with backdrops that resemble the artwork of a 5-year-old.
The Likert Scale form field is one of the better Microsoft Form features, and it can be useful if you’re conducting market research or academic research. You can choose your own options for the top row and add more if you need to. Some suggested options for this row pop up while you’re editing, but they aren’t particularly useful.
If you need the same form in multiple languages, Microsoft Forms makes this incredibly easy. There are over 75 languages available, and the list includes even obscure languages as well as the more common languages seen on multilingual forms.See full list of features
Ease of use
Not Drag and Drop, but Super Easy to Use
Microsoft Forms may not have a ton of advanced features, but it is incredibly beginner-friendly. Even though it doesn’t use drag-and-drop, it’s simple enough for a child to use, and if you’ve never built a form before, you really can’t go wrong with this builder.
The simplicity of the Microsoft Forms editor makes it incredibly intuitive. There are no complicated settings. Every tool is accessible within a couple of clicks, and the editor is uncluttered and easy to navigate.
If you have questions, just click on the question mark symbol in the top right of the editor to bring up the Help sidebar. Suggested articles will pop up, as well as links to relevant guides (such as the Start Here guide for Microsoft Forms). Occasionally, when you’re working on your forms, a helpful hint will pop up to let you know about a feature you might have missed.
Click to Edit
Editing your form is a straightforward matter of clicking in the form field boxes and typing. There are no complicated formatting settings to navigate through, and any options are generally selected by either a drop-down menu or a toggle switch – e.g., to make a form field required, or setting a text-based question as a long answer (to display a larger text box). It’s simple and foolproof.See if Microsoft Forms is Right for You
If you have the Business version of Office 365, you contact support via the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. You can use the support bot for suggested help articles (from the comprehensive help center, which is full of articles and FAQs) or go directly to the service request form.
When I filled in the form, the only contact method available to me was a call-back by phone – they promise within 15 minutes. This kind of response time is pretty impressive – or it would be if they lived up to the promise. I’m still waiting for my call-back!
How does Microsoft Forms match up to the competition?
You can play around with Microsoft Forms for free – you’ll see (Preview) in the top left of the editor – but you can’t send or share forms without an active Business or Education Office 365 subscription.
If you have a university email address and your university has opted into the Office 365 for Education program, then you’ll be able to access Microsoft Forms for free. If, however, you don’t have access to this version, then you’ll need an Office 365 for Business subscription.
Office 365 for Business has a 30-day free trial, after which you can pay a monthly or annual fee, which is calculated according to the number of “seats” (or users). It can get pricey if you have multiple seats, but a single seat isn’t much more expensive than the Office 365 Home (personal) subscription price.
There’s no way to subscribe to Microsoft Forms on its own, so if you’re not going to use the whole Office 365 suite (Word, PowerPoint, etc.), it may be a waste to pay for the subscription. It’s worth noting, however, that Office 365 pricing is a lot cheaper than some online form builders.
Bottom line on Microsoft Forms
If you already have a Business or Education Office 365 account, then Microsoft Forms is an easy way to build and share forms without any additional costs. If you have a personal Office 365 account or don’t have a Microsoft account at all, then going through the process of setting up a subscription just to use this basic form builder is hardly worth it. There are free online form builders that do more and are much easier to sign up for, such as JotForm. You can learn more about it in our expert JotForm review.
Ari is passionate about web hosting and design, and has been building websites with WordPress for over ten years. When he’s not testing web hosts, you’re likely to find him trying to train his three beagles.