Microsoft Office dates back nearly three decades when it was initially available as a combination of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint in a discounted bundle. In 2011, Microsoft made Office 365 generally available. The cloud-based suite of productivity apps and services that come with a monthly per-user subscription includes Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, and also SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, Planner, Yammer, and more based on your subscription.
In 2017, Microsoft 365 became available for enterprise customers as a licensing bundle, which comprised of Office, Windows, and Enterprise Mobility and Security (EMS). It was different from the traditional offering due to its monthly or annual subscription instead of the perpetual license and the inclusion of a combination of online services, such as cloud file storage, business-class email, and secure communication tools besides the traditional desktop apps. Due to the subscription offerings, the users were always sure of using the latest versions of the desktops programs which were updated automatically upon the availability of the new version
On April 21st, 2020, Microsoft announced the change in the official branding of its productivity suite from Office 365 to Microsoft 365. This new naming convention reflects Microsoft’s strategy of offering a single complete productivity platform for its customers containing an integrated set of apps and services with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other cutting-edge innovations. It provides the small and mid-size businesses with the capabilities to host rich online meetings and events through Teams, anytime-anywhere collaboration capabilities through cloud file storage and sharing, and information security through security and identity solutions. The new simplified naming approach is designed for the clients to find the required plan quickly.
Services Available in Microsoft 365
- Exchange OnlineEvery Microsoft 365 subscriber is provided with the business-class email offering that comes with the ability to access email through a web browser or the Outlook app on a Windows, Mac, or mobile devices along with a 50 GB mailbox. Besides this, you have built-in Malware and spam filtering and basic features like shared mailboxes. Some Microsoft 365 subscriptions have access to advanced features like eDiscovery.
- Microsoft TeamsWith Teams, the subscribers can collaborate effectively using instant messaging, HD video conferencing, and unified communication. It replaces the older Skype for Business service and offers a team and channel-based architecture. With the free version of Teams, small businesses do not have to pay any license fees.
- SharePoint OnlineWith SharePoint, users can share files and sync information in File Explorer. SharePoint and Exchange Online support the administrative controls to restrict anyone sharing confidential information outside the organization.
- OneDrive for BusinessesEvery Microsoft 365 subscriber has 1TB of personal OneDrive storage with sync clients for every desktop platform. With Files on Demand feature, Microsoft 365 users can use File Explorer to view and manage their cloud-based storage. If one TB storage is inadequate, administrators of Enterprise plans can upgrade users to unlimited storage.
- More ServicesBesides the above standard services, some Microsoft 365 plans offer services for a specific target audience. Microsoft Business Premium and Business Standard plans include services like Microsoft Bookings and MileIQ, which are ideal for small and medium-sized businesses. Microsoft Bookings facilitates easy scheduling and management of appointments, whereas MileIQ is a mileage tracking service. Similarly, all Enterprise plans come with Yammer Social Networking service and a selection of business automation tools, such as Power BI Pro as an advanced business analytics tool, Power Automate that helps to streamline repetitive workflows, and Power Apps that enables building custom forms.
Desktop Apps available with Microsoft 365
With every Microsoft 365 plan with access to desktop apps, subscribers have Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote for Windows 7 and later and MacOS. Access and Publisher are available for Windows. These apps are automatically updated and can be installed and used on up to five tablets, five phones, and five PCs or Macs simultaneously. Also, users can manage installs from their own subscription portal without having to enter product keys.
Web-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint work in any desktop browser without any additional software. Most of the Microsoft 365 plans provide Outlook on the web.
Mobile apps are available for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams.
How to Find the Right Plan for Your Business?
Following tables can be handy in deciding which plan can be your best fit. All prices are as of April 2020.
For small businesses, the plans support up to 300 users.
|Plan||Annual Pricing||Availability of Apps||The plan is Best for|
|Microsoft 365 Business Basic (previously Office 365 Business Essentials)||$5 per user per month||Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business||Organizations that need managed email and cloud storage with existing investment in Office desktop programs|
|Microsoft 365 Apps (previously Office 365 Business)||$8.25 per user per month||Office desktop apps and OneDrive for Business cloud file storage||Businesses that need access to Office apps and cloud storage without a need to switch email|
|Microsoft 365 Business Standard (previously Office 365 Business Premium)||$12.50 per user per month||All online services and desktop apps||Organizations that need a combined package|
|Microsoft 365 Business Premium (previously Microsoft 365 Business)||$20.00 per user per month||All online services and desktop apps, advanced cyber threat protection, Microsoft Intune device management||Organizations that need a combined package with advanced data security|
For larger organizations, the Microsoft 365 Enterprise plans support an unlimited number of users. They include per-user Windows Enterprise licensing, access to the Microsoft Intune device management tools, Microsoft 365 Admin Center, Windows AutoPilot, and Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager. Also, several legacy Office 365 Enterprise plans are still available.
|Plan||Annual Pricing||Availability of Apps||The plan is Best for|
|Microsoft 365 F3||$10 per user per month||Online services, online versions of Office apps||Organizations that intend to offer email and cloud storage to frontline workers|
|Microsoft 365 E3||$32 per user per month||Full assortment of online services and desktop apps, advanced email hold and discovery features, a subset of Azure Active Directory Premium Features||The most popular plan for larger companies|
|Microsoft 365 E5||$57 per user per month||Advanced eDiscovery features, enterprise-grade security features||Advanced security|
|Office 365 Enterprise E1||$8 per user per month||Online services, online versions of Office apps||Organizations that want to stick with specific Office editions and want to move email and cloud storage to Microsoft’s servers|
|Office 365 Enterprise E3||$20 per user per month||Same set of online services and desktop apps as in Microsoft 365 E3|
|Office 365 Enterprise E5||$35 per user per month||Same lineup as in its Microsoft 365 counterpart|
Besides these plans, individual Microsoft 365 services are available on an a la carte basis. Also, additional plans are available for government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions.
WaferWire Cloud Technologies can help you identify and offer your best-fitting Microsoft 365 plan. We are a Microsoft partner with a decade-long experience in providing quality services and solutions on the complete Microsoft product stack. Contact us, and we will be happy to help.