Office 365 Business is best suited for small and mid-size business. There are three business plans within Office 365, Business Essentials, Business and Business Premium. But which plan do you need, what are the important differences and how do you decide which one you should buy? In this article, I will compare the different plans, highlight the most important differences between them. At the end of the article, you will find a comparison chart between the plans.
If you want to compare all the Office 365 versions (Business and Enterprise), make sure you check this article with all the versions and details.
Comparing the Business Plans
Desktop versus Browser only
There a few big decision makers between the Office 365 Business plans and one of them is if you need the desktop Office applications (Outlook, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Onenote and Access) or if you are fine with the browser version only. Business Essentials comes with only the Online versions of Office, so if you need the desktop versions (or mobile apps) of Office, you have to choose between Business and Business Premium.
Email hosting and Cloud storage
The second big decision maker is if you want to use Exchange and/or SharePoint. Office 365 Business does not have Exchange for hosting your mailbox or SharePoint. You can host your email at your current web host and still use Outlook, but this way you miss the ability to easily share mailboxes or calendars. So if you want desktop applications and hosted mail and/or SharePoint, then your only choice is to go for Business Premium.
Using Exchange for your Business will make managing your mail a lot easier. No more looking up those Pop3 or Smtp details to get your mail in Outlook or on your mobile phone, just fill in your email address and password and you are done. But besides the ease of configuration, also the ability to create shared mailboxes (like [email protected] or [email protected]) really helps you to bring your business to the next level.
Those shared mailboxes (and calendars) won’t cost an additional license. All users with an Office 365 license can access the mailbox if they are granted access to it. With Exchange, you get a 50 GB mailbox per user, which is a lot more than your typical hosting provider.
All the Office 365 Business Plans come with a OneDrive for Busines account for each user. And yes, you can share folders from your OneDrive with your coworkers, but that’s not really the way to go here. With Onedrive, you’re the owner of the file and in control who can access them etc. If you add a new file or folder, it’s private until you share it. While with SharePoint the whole group or team members are the owners, allowing them to create, edit and share files with (external) users and manage version history.
But SharePoint is more than a file storage, you can create lists, web pages, calendars and add metadata to documents. Another great advantage of SharePoint is that you can access your documents from anywhere in the world. Just use the SharePoint app on your mobile phone or any internet browser to log in and access your documents.
Terminal Server / Citrix environment
Business plans do not support shared computer activation. Something you need when you use a terminal server or Citrix environment. If you have a terminal server environment you will have to go for the Enterprise plan.
Office Add-ins (CRM/ERP add-ins)
This is one of the differences that are easily overlooked, but very important for larger corporations. With Office 365 Business and Business Essentials you can’t use Office Add-ins, ActiveX or Browser helper objects. Now you might think, I don’t really need add-ins. But no add-ins also means no connection with your CRM or ERP application. So no looking up that customer record when you receive an email. Or linking an email to a project or customer.
Start with a trial
If you want to test Office 365 for Business you can start with a 30-day trial. You don’t need a domain name for it, you can use a free *.onmicrosoft.com domain name that can be used during the trial. Later on, you can always add your domain name to your trial account if you are ready to move over.
Comparison Chart Office 365 Business Plans
|Business||Business Essentials||Business Premium|
|Price user/month (annual commitment)||$ 8.30||$ 5.00||$ 12.50|
|Price user/month (monthly commitment)||$ 10.00||$ 6.00||$ 15.00|
|Seat Cap||300 (for each plan)|
|24/7 Phone support||Critical issues|
|Desktop version of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher||•||•|
|Web version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote||•||•||•|
|Office apps on tablets and phones||•||•||•|
|1TB cloud storage (OneDrive for Business)||•||•||•|
|Unlimited cloud storage (OneDrive for Business)|
|Email, Calendar (Exchange)||•||•|
|Online meetings, IM (Skype for Business)||•||•|
|Communication and team sites (SharePoint)||•||•|
|Team hub (Teams)||•||•|
|Enterprise Social (Yammer)||•||•|
|Content discovery and search (Delve)||•||•||•|
|Manage schedules and daily staff work tasks (StaffHub)||•|
|Manage tasks and teamworks (Planner)||•||•|
|Manage your business better (Invoicing, Bookings, MileIQ, Business center)||•|
|Manage customers (Connections, Listings, Outlook Customer Manager)||•|
|Active Directory integration||•||•||•|
|Mobile Device Management (MDM) for Office 365||•||•||•|
|Licensed for hybrid deployment|
|Support for shared computer activation|
|Video content management|
|Compliance – Archiving, eDiscovery, hold|
|Information protection – message encryption, RMS, DLP|
|Advanced eDiscovery, secure attachments and URLs and access controls|
|End user and organizational analytics (MyAnalytics & Power BI)||•||•|
|Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection|
|Office 365 Cloud App Security|
|PSTN conferencing to dial in to Skype meetings from anywhere|
|Advanced Data Governance|
|Advanced security with Advanced Threat Protection and Customer Lockbox|
|More Info||More Info|
* MyAnalytics will be available for every business and enterprise plan with hosted exchange. Rolling out in January 2019