Best Microsoft 365 Licensing Options for SMEs


Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based set of intelligent desktop and cloud services for remote work, communication, file management, teleconferencing, and cloud computing. It is an all-in-one suite to fulfill almost all of your organization's administrative needs. So, if you are looking to subscribe to Microsoft, you should be well aware of the different license plans Microsoft offers with a different set of products and services. Therefore, this blog will list the licensing options for SMEs and will try to assist you in making the right decision.

Microsoft 365 Key Service Offerings – A Quick Overview

Before we jump our discussion around the licensing options, it's important that we quickly look at some of the key service offerings of Microsoft 365 that can elevate employees' productivity and overall administrative control. Some of the key services of Microsoft 365 are as follows:

  • Word: It is a word processor that allows you to create documents using different fonts, texts, styles, etc.
  • Excel: It uses spreadsheets to help you organize data using formulas and functions and even get graphical insights about the data.
  • PowerPoint: It is a presentation creation tool that enables you to create professional presentations including texts, graphs, 3D shapes, etc.
  • OneDrive: It is a cloud storage solution that enables you to store files, documents, images, and other data in the Microsoft servers and access them anytime, anywhere.
  • Outlook: It is an email client that lets you send and receive emails.
  • Teams: It is a communication app that allows real-time large group communication through texts, voice, or video.
  • To Do: It helps you organize your daily routine by creating tasks and sub-steps to achieve those tasks.
  • Access: It is a database management system that enables you to create databases, such as the record of orders, customers, inventory, etc.
  • Power BI: It is a business intelligence tool that enables you to extract valuable insights from the data with interactive reports.

Other than the above services, Microsoft 365 incorporates a lot more, such as SharePoint, Visio, Stream, Power Apps, Publisher, and many more. In short, it is truly a complete and powerful platform for SMEs to elevate productivity, remote working, and streamlined administrative control.

Microsoft 365 Licenses

Microsoft 365 is available in multiple different license plans and divided into 3 categories, as follows:

1.      Microsoft 365 Home: This category offers 2 plans, i.e., Microsoft 365 Personal and Microsoft 365 Family.

2.      Microsoft Business: This category offers 4 plans, i.e., Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft 365 Apps for Business, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, and Microsoft 365 Business Premium.

3.      Microsoft 365 Enterprise: This category offers 3 plans, i.e., Microsoft 365 E3, Microsoft 365 E5, and Microsoft 365 F3 (includes sub plans, i.e., Microsoft 365 F1, F3, and Office 365 F3).

For SMEs, the best category is the Microsoft 365 Business, as it offers affordable subscription rates and includes all the basic apps that SMEs need. Let's explore the 4 plans under Microsoft 365 Business in detail:

Microsoft 365 Business Basic – $6/month/user

Microsoft 365 Business Basic is the cheapest business plan that aims to target those businesses that need access to popular Office apps and cloud storage. It provides access to web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Outlook, Exchange, OneDrive, and SharePoint. Moreover, it offers 1 TB of cloud storage and 300 attendees in chats and calls.

Microsoft 365 Apps For Business – $8.25/month/user

Microsoft 365 Apps For Business offers access to the desktop versions of the Office app, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive, Access, and Publisher. It also provides 1 TB of cloud storage and anytime phone and web support.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard – $12.5/month/user

Microsoft 365 Business Standard provides access to both desktop and web versions of popular office apps. It provides all the offerings of the Business Basic plan along with access to desktop and web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint, Exchange, Access, and Publisher. It also offers attendee registration and reporting tools and helps you manage customer appointments.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium – $22/month/user

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is the most expensive business plan that provides a complete business solution. It provides all the offerings of the Business Premium plan along with access to desktop and web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint, Exchange, Intune, Azure Information Protection, Access, and Publisher. It also offers advanced security support with cybersecurity protection and access and data control.

Microsoft 365 Business vs. Enterprise

Microsoft 365 Business restricts its offerings to small and medium enterprises that have employees within the 1-300 range. Beyond that, you have to subscribe to the Microsoft 365 Enterprise plans.

The major difference between Microsoft 365 business and enterprise plans is that the Microsoft enterprise license has no employee restrictions and offers access to all the apps and services offered by Microsoft 365. Moreover, the enterprise plans offer analytics tools like Power BI and let you host large meetings with 250-10,000 people. In addition, these plans also come with additional administrative, compliance, and security features, such as customer retention policies, advanced information protection, advanced threat protection, etc.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise plans are available in multiple forms, such as E3, E5, and F3, and cost between $8-36/month/user. You can find more detailed information about the offerings under Microsoft 365 Enterprise from the Microsoft website.

Final Words – How to Pick the Right Plan

The very first thing you should do is set up your business requirements to know what are the main apps, services, and other offerings you want to fulfill from Microsoft 365. Afterward, you can compare your requirements with the available Microsoft 365 plans. However, there is a perception that there is no one ideal Microsoft 365 plan that can serve the needs of all SMEs. Therefore, it is found that many SMEs use a combination of multiple plans to fulfill their needs in a cost-effective way.

You can even try out the 1-month free trial period to evaluate the apps and services of your preferred plan and then make the right decision. To sum up, Microsoft 365 has a lot of benefits that make it worth investing for SMEs. So, spend some time picking the right plan and then enhance your work productivity right away.

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