Microsoft Office has been the industry standard in workplace productivity software for almost three decades and, unsurprisingly, it’s changed quite a bit over the years.
For starters, most users access Office applications through a cloud-based month-to-month subscription plan, rather than making a one-off purchase. This change means free updates for the duration of the subscription, as well as free online storage and access to the cloud-based versions of the core Office apps.
But with over a dozen plans available across the home, business, and enterprise markets, it’s not always easy to determine which one is right for you. Sometimes, it’s tempting to go for the plan that meets your current needs, but it’s important to consider future needs as well. Because although it’s relatively easy to upgrade your plan at any time, all business plans do require an annual commitment.
Here are your options:
Office 365 Business Essentials
At only $5 per user per month, Business Essentials is the cheapest plan. It’s meant for businesses that need email and other key services, but it doesn’t include any of the Office desktop apps. All you get are the web-based and mobile versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
This is fine for everyday use, but they don’t offer nearly the level of functionality that the desktop applications do. On the upside, Business Essentials does come with Exchange for email, OneDrive for online storage, SharePoint, and Teams.
Choosing this option is best if you work predominantly in the cloud and need professional email and business tools for remote employees.
Office 365 Business
The Business plan costs $8.25 per user per month and offers the web-based and offline versions of Microsoft’s productivity apps. Although OneDrive is included, Exchange, SharePoint, and Teams are not part of the subscription.
Office 365 Business is basically a subscription version of Office 2019. It’s ideal for businesses that need to install the desktop productivity apps on their in-house computers for offline use but already have a business email with another service provider.
Office 365 Business Premium
For $12.50 per user per month, Business Premium is a blend of the Business and Business Essentials plans. You’ll have access to all the core services, as well as desktop, mobile, and web-based versions of the Office productivity apps. And as an added bonus, it comes with Bookings and MileIQ for managing your business.
Bookings is an online scheduling service for consultants, healthcare providers, attorneys, or anyone else who collects online bookings. The MileIQ app is designed with independent contractors in mind who need an easy way to track mileage for work.
Business Premium is the best option for large teams with a wide range of needs.
Microsoft 365 Business
This premium offering provides everything that Office 365 Business Premium has, plus a long list of tools for improving information security and device management. It costs $20 per user per month.
Subscribers also get Microsoft Connections for email marketing automation and Microsoft 365 Invoicing for simplifying everyday accounting procedures.
With its mobile device management features and high-end security controls, it’s ideal for businesses that have a lot of mobile workers and/or handle highly sensitive information via their Office apps.
What’s included in Office 365 Enterprise plans?
You’ve probably heard of the Enterprise plans Microsoft offers. Despite mostly aligning with their corresponding business plans, there are a few important differences. For example, all Business plans are limited to 300 users. If your headcount will reach that point in the foreseeable future, choose an enterprise plan. Enterprise plans are also available with the Publisher desktop software and with various extra online services, such as Yammer, Stream, and PowerBI.
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