New Office 365 Plans for Small Businesses
Over a year since announcing updates to its Office 365 plans for small businesses, Microsoft is finally allowing customers to take advantage of new simplified Office 365 plans. Effective December 5th, Office 365 Essentials, Office 365 Business, and Office 365 Business Premium are now available to all new and existing small business customers.
Office 365 Essentials, the most affordable of the three new plans, starts at $5 a month/$60 a year per user and provides access to email, calendar, contacts, 1TB of online storage via OneDrive, as well as instant messaging and video conferencing, Office Online web apps, and Yammer social networking. The Essentials plan does not include access to Office applications for Windows or Mac, but with access to Office Online many businesses may find that to be an acceptable trade off for the savings.
Office 365 Business on the other hand will cost $8.25 a month/$90 a year per user and will provide access to Office desktop applications for Windows and Mac. Users will be able to download the mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc. to work on the go as well. Like the Essentials plan users will also have 1TB of online storage via OneDrive, however users will not have access to Exchange email services, Skype for Business, or SharePoint.
Lastly, Office 365 Business Premium offers the best of both. For $12.25 a month/$150 a year per user, users will have access to both mobile and desktop versions of Microsoft Office. Additionally, Exchange email services, Skype for Business HD video conferencing, Yammer social networking, and 1TB of online storage via OneDrive will also be provided.
For many businesses this will be a welcome expansion of the Office 365 platform. As an added benefit, Microsoft is also raising the cap on what businesses are eligible. Whereas previously the small business plans were restricted to businesses with 25 employees or less, these newly revamped plans are now capped at a maximum of 300 employees.
It remains to be seen whether these new plans take off the way Microsoft hopes they will. Having already delayed the original launch from October 1st in an effort to drum up more interest, Microsoft’s biggest challenge remains getting the message out there.
"Sean Bugler is an Instructor at Learn iT! specializing in desktop class application usage. When he’s not teaching you can often find him reading up on the latest news in software and technology. Connect with him on Twitter @sbglr.”