Everything you need to know about Office 365 plans

 In Hardware and Software

Office 365 has changed the business IT environment dramatically – it is a revolution in the way businesses gain access to their core Microsoft Office software and email exchange services.

There’s a wide array of Office 365 plans on offer, each with its own price point and features.

In this article, I’ll explain why Office 365 is especially good for SMEs, plus the features and composition of each available Office 365 business plan.

Why Office 365 is relevant to you

Office 365 is an affordable way for any sized business to benefit from an exchange email service. Exchange allows synchronised access to emails, calendar, contacts and notes from any device.

Like all cloud products, Office 365 removes the risks and costs associated with running a server in your office. Office 365 also provides a very generous 50GB of data per user mailbox, allowing your people to grow their mailboxes without incurring server hard drive upgrade costs.

If your emails run through the POP or IMAP hosting that is normally part of a basic website hosting package; Office 365 will allow you to harness all the benefits of the Microsoft online exchange.

All the Office 365 plans and what they offer

For business and enterprise users, Office 365 offers plans including email and social networking services through hosted versions of Exchange Server, Skype for Business Server, SharePoint and Office Online, integration with Yammer, as well as access to the Microsoft Office suite, and storage space on Microsoft’s cloud storage service OneDrive.

There are desktop apps for Windows and Mac; and mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

The range of Office 365 subscription plans is designed to fit any small and medium-sized enterprise:

  • Office 365 Business Essentials: This is the entry level plan and includes the core cloud services for running a business – business class email and calendaring, online versions of MS Office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, online meetings, instant messaging, video conferencing, cloud storage and file sharing.
  • Office 365 Business: This is essentially just a subscription to the Microsoft Office product and allows each licensed user to install Office on five devices. This plan by itself is the least valuable one as it does not include any of the collaboration tools that come with the other plans.
  • Office 365 Business Premium: This combines everything from both the Office 365 Business and Business Essentials plans and offers incredible value.
  • Office 365 Enterprise: This plan is aimed at larger businesses. It is essentially the Business Premium plan with lots of extras. For example this plan comes with the litigation hold feature for email (all emails ever sent and received are kept for the life of the service), a feature often used by legal firms or companies with high levels of compliance. Also, if you operate a terminal server and you require the Office software, then this plan is the only one you can use.

The benefits of Office 365 for email

There are so many reasons why Exchange Online is a better way to host email for your business.

  • Cost savings: By removing a hardware email server from your business premises; you eliminate all the costs associated with the original purchase, hardware maintenance and upgrades.
  • Easy administration of email: Email with Office 365 is hosted in the cloud, and administering it is easier. Most of its settings and configurations are available in a simple web interface.
  • Security: One major consideration in moving to a cloud service is security. Office 365 delivers multiple encryption options to protect your data in transit and ‘at rest’. Spam filtering and virus protection are automatically enabled on all inbound and outbound email messages by Microsoft Exchange Online Protection.
  • Large mailboxes: Each user gets 50GB of mailbox storage and can send messages up to 150MB in size.
  • Outlook support: Users can connect supported versions of MS Outlook to Exchange Online, so they can use their email the way they’re accustomed to using it.
  • Web-based access: For web-client access, Outlook Web App provides a premium browser-based experience that matches the look and feel of the full Outlook program.
  • Outlook app: Get more done on your phone and tablet with the Outlook app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
  • Inbox management: Stay focused on the most important messages with Clutter, which applies machine learning to clean up your inbox and set up rules that match the way you work.

The benefits of Office 365 apps

In terms of office applications and collaboration tools, Office 365 offers a number of advantages over Office 2019 Professional (it’s non-cloud counterpart).

  • Collaboration and Communication: With SharePoint Online, you can manage documents, enable workflows, and participate in social platforms with your organisation. You can meet online with HD video conferencing, screen sharing and real-time notes and use a site mailbox to collaborate with your team.
  • Mobility and Accessibility: Access your files anywhere. With the web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote you can access, create, and edit any of your files from any computer or mobile device with an Internet browser. They can also be accessed on a variety of mobile platforms.
  • Competitive Pricing: You can pay monthly or yearly, and you automatically get new features as they’re released and the next version of Office when it comes out. You can buy Office 2019 on its own, for a one-time price that gives you a licence you can carry on using as long as you like, but when the next version of Office comes out you’ll have to pay again to get it.
  • Convenient file storage and syncing: Each user gets 1TB of OneDrive storage where you can securely store all your files and share them with your colleagues. Files are synced across devices and you can access them anywhere – even when you’re offline.

How Proactive IT Solutions can help you migrate to Office 365

Email is probably the most important business communication tool you have; and your most comprehensive archive. You don’t want an Office 365 migration to disrupt your business; and you certainly don’t want to lose any data.

A successful Office 365 migration requires pre-assessment, planning and proper configuration. You need someone who knows what they’re doing. Proactive IT Solutions is a registered Microsoft Silver Partner. We’ve successfully migrated hundreds of mailboxes and we can migrate yours, too – with minimal downtime.

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