Learning center 10/10/14

Which Office 365 version is right for you?

Kirsten Ekstrand, Administrator
Microsoft recently released changes to their popular Office 365 plans. How does a small Chicago business decide which plan they need?

Are you confused by Office 365?

I know I was when it first came out, and our engineers regularly have conversations with clients that sound like this:

Yeah, I've heard about Office 365. Would it be a good fit for my company?

Yes, we think so. Let's decide what plan you want. Office 365 Premium? Office 365 for Home? Office 365 Business Premium? Office 365 Small Business Premium? What about Enterprise 1, 2, or 3? There's also Midsize Business… or, there was…

You know what? Office 2003 was treating me just fine…

If this sounds like what's going through your brain at the moment, you're not alone! Just when we thought we'd figured out the myriad of Office 365 plans, Microsoft changed their structure. As of October 1, the old Small Business Premium went away and was replaced with… well, do you even need to know?

My goal here is to tell you in simple terms what you need to know about choosing an Office365 business plan.

Maybe you're an IT director, and while the technology behind it makes sense, the structuring and purchasing end is something you'd rather leave to a different department. Maybe, like me, you're an administrator for your organization, and you just want to understand what it is that your IT department says you should purchase. Whatever the case, I'd like to take away a little of that confusion for you.

Office 365 is usually a better option for you than Office 2013.

Microsoft Office 2013 is Office the old way — you install it on one device, have access to the Microsoft Office programs, and once you purchase the software, you own it. You also have to pay for upgrades, and for business email, you'll need to set up an Exchange Server. Spendy stuff.

Most businesses will be better off with a Microsoft Office 365 plan. This is based on the Software as a Service model. You pay monthly (or yearly) and get download rights to the software for multiple devices, cloud storage, and online access to apps. Some plans even include the hosting of your business email.

Wait. You said some plans? 

Here's where Office 365 gets complicated. It's customizable, which is a great thing! Unfortunately, the plan structure sometimes has people confused. Maybe I'm weird, but I think it makes senselet me break it down for you.

Office 365 Business Essentials: Online Only

Office 365 Business Essentials gives you access to all of the online services Microsoft offers — business class email, file storage and sharing, unlimited online meetings, and online versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Perfect if you don't really need the full desktop version of the Office Suite, but want the high powered communication tools Office offers.

Office 365 Business: Desktop Only

Office 365 Business gives you the latest version of the Office applications for your desktop — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote. You can install them on multiple devices, and you get smartphone and tablet versions, too. You still get some file storage and sharing capability, but the email and online meetings aren't included. Perfect if you want up-to-date productivity tools but don't really need business-class email.

Office 365 Business Premium: Online & Desktop

Office 365 Business Premium gives you all of the online features (business class email, file storage and sharing, unlimited online meetings) along with all of the desktop features — full versions of your favorite applications! This is my recommended version, especially for the power user. (I can't live without full versions of Word and Excel, but I rely on some of the online meeting tools Microsoft offers every day.)

All you need to know to make a decision about Office 365 business plans is that it's really quite simple.

Do you need the online services? Do you need the desktop services? Do you need both?

If you need the online services, choose Office 365 Business Essentials. If you need the desktop services, choose Office 365 Business. If you need both services, choose Office 365 Business Premium

If you're still confused, feel free to give us a call at 630-936-4045, ext 2. We'll gladly walk you through the options and help you with the migration plan.