Office 365 Business Plans – What you need to know

For small and mid-size business are the Office 365 Business Plans the best fit. 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? This article will explain the differences between the Office 365 Business Plans and compare them for you.

If you want to compare all the Office 365 versions, make sure you check this article about all the business and enterprise versions.

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 you 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 or 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.

Comparison Chart Office 365 Business Plans

BusinessBusiness EssentialsBusiness Premium
Core Details
Price user/month (annual commitment)$ 8.30$ 5.00$ 12.50
Price user/month (monthly commitment)$ 10.00$ 6.00$ 15.00
Seat Cap300 (for each plan)
24/7 Phone supportCritical issues
Desktop version of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, Publisher
Web version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote
Office apps on tablets and phones
Standard Services
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)
Advanced Services
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
Enhanced Services
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
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