Office 365 Plans Explained

Office 365 Explained

Office 365 is a great product: easy to set up, easy to maintain, and with oodles of awesome functionality.

However, working out what plan you need can be a bit of a minefield.

I’m going to try to help you pick your way through…

Home or Personal Use

Before getting onto the business plans, you may want to use Office 365 personally, or for your family. There are very cost-effective ways to do this, that can give you up to 6 accounts for a very reasonable monthly price.

If you want to buy Office 365 for personal use, you need Office 365 Home, Personal or Student:

  • Office 365 Home – £79.99 per year
    • All the normal Office Apps (Word, Excel etc), plus 1TB Cloud Storage.
    • Up to 6 users can install it on multiple devices.
  • Office 365 Personal – £59.99 per year
    • Same as Office 365 Home, but just for 1 user.
  • Office 365 University – £59.99 for 4 years
    • Same as Office 365 Personal, but cheaper!

Click here for the full Home Plans feature list.

Business Use

If you are purchasing for a business, things start to get more complicated!

There are two sets of plans:

  • Business, for organisations of 300 people or less
  • Enterprise – for organisations who want advanced functionality, or with large numbers of people.

For smaller organisation using basic Office functionality, the Business Plans should be adequate, and many of the features that are missing can be added in by paying additional license fees. The main additions that you get with Enterprise plans, other than the 300 user limit, are:

  • Additional Email storage;
  • ProPlus versions of Office, giving things like Excel Compare, Power Pivot, Power Query and Power View for Excel;
  • Microsoft Access;
  • Information Rights Management – protecting documents from being used outside your company;
  • Data Loss Prevention – automatic scanning of emails for sensitive information
  • SharePoint Search web parts;
  • Ability to add a cloud PBX;
  • Ability to add PSTN conferencing.

If you’re not going to invest the time into setting up these features, then one of the Business Plans will be fine. At the point that you need these features, you can upgrade your users – either all at once, or just upgrade the users that need the new functionality. It is easy to mix and match plans to your needs.

Business Plans

There are three plans within the Business family:

  • Office 365 Business Essentials – £3.80 + VAT per month

    • This is an online-only subscription. You log on using a web browser and can access emails, view and edit Office documents
    • Browser-based email
    • Microsoft Teams
    • SharePoint Online
  • Office 365 Business – £7.90 + VAT per month

    • This gives you the standard Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc) to download
    • No email
    • 1TB cloud storage per user
  • Office 365 Business Premium – £9.40 + VAT per month

    • All of the above combined:
      • Email
      • Office applications
      • Online storage
      • 1TB cloud storage per user
      • SharePoint Online
      • Microsoft Teams

Click here for the full Business Plan feature list.

Enterprise Plans

If your organisation has more than 300 users, you will need to start buying some Enterprise licences. These are suite a bit more expensive than the normal Business licenses, but you get more tools for managing the data that exists in a large organisation. However, don’t expect these tools to magically organise all of your organisation’s documents themselves – they will need time spent setting them up, showing people how to use them, and monitoring their usage.

The plans follow a similar pattern to the Business plans: you can opt for an online-only version with email but no Office Applications (useful for occasional PC users), a version that gives you full Office Applications but no email (useful if you have your own email servers), or full Office 365 with Office and Email.

In addition, there is an advanced version, E5. This gives you additional security, classification and analysis functionality, along with telephony integration.

  • Office 365 Enterprise E1 – £6.00 + VAT per month

    • Online-only subscription. You log on using a web browser and can access emails, view and edit Office documents
    • Microsoft Teams
    • SharePoint Online
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3 – £11.50 + VAT per month

    • This gives you the Office ProPlus applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access etc) to download
    • No email
    • 1TB cloud storage per user
  • Office 365 Enterprise E3 – £17.60 + VAT per month

    • All of the above, plus:
      • eDiscovery – intelligent search for content across all of Office 365
      • Manual retention and deletion policies and manual classifications
      • Rights Management – protect documents from being accessed outside of your organisation
    • Office 365 Enterprise E5 – £30.80 + VAT per month
      • E3, plus:
        • Advanced security, analytics and telephony

Click here for the Full Enterprise Feature List

Firstline – F1 Plans

Finally, there is a new plan for Firstline works – F1. This is a low-cost plan designed for non-office based staff, giving access to your companies’ resources from mobile devices and through the browser. It includes a small mailbox, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint Online, and Office Online – a very lightweight version of Office ideal for people who need to be kept in touch but aren’t going to spend hours at a PC.

Click here for Firstline plan details

Non-business organisations

For regular businesses, that covers the main options available. However, there are a variety of other plans for non-profits, education and government organisations, all accessible from here.  They largely follow the Enterprise plans, but there are subtle differences, so it is worth reading the small print before committing to these plans.

Additional Services

A lot of the features of Office 365 can be purchased independently. For example, if you just want email with no other functionality, or want to use SharePoint Online to provide an intranet and buy your email and Office software elsewhere, you can do just that.

A range of additional Office 365 services can be found here

And Finally…

Of course, to run Office 365, you will need a PC running Windows. Microsoft have introduced a new range of products under the Microsoft 365 brand, that bundles Windows, Office and Security features into a single subscription. Take a look here to see details of these offerings.

The full Office 365 Service Description can be accessed here