Evolving Office 365 plans

 Nov 06, 2014

Making Office 365 even better for small and mid-sized businesses.

On October 1, 2014, Microsoft released three new Office 365 plans tailored to meet the needs of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs), ranging from 1 to approximately 250 employees. The new plans are:

  • Office 365 Business – The full Office applications – Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Publisher, with 1TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage to access, edit and share your documents across your Windows PC, Mac, iPad, Windows tablet and smartphone.
  • Office 365 Business Essentials – The core cloud services for running your business – business class email and calendaring, Office Online, online meetings, IM, video conferencing, cloud storage and file sharing and much more.
  • Office 365 Business Premium – Get everything from both the Office 365 Business and Business Essentials plans.

This new lineup will replace the current plans for SMBs over time – small business, small business premium and midsize business (more on that below). The current Enterprise plans will remain the same. You can learn more about the existing plans on Office.com.

This new lineup reflects the feedback Microsoft received from SMB customers about how they want to get started and grow with Office 365. The new plans provide the following benefits:

  • New Choice: The Office 365 Business plan ($8.25/user/month) makes it simple to get just the familiar, full Office apps at a great price – always up to date and available on all your devices including your PC, Mac, iPad and smartphone. The included 1TB of cloud storage makes it easy to access and edit your important files from anywhere.
  • New Value: Business Premium includes Midsize Business’ services at the Small Business Premium price of $12.50 user/month. Business Essentials matches Small Business on price ($5/user/month) with improved features and additional services like Yammer and Active Directory support. The higher seat limit of 300 means even more businesses can take advantage of the great value these plans provide.
  • New Flexibility: As you grow and your technology needs change, you can move your company (or just specific users) to an Enterprise plan, a different Business plan, or even add solutions like Project, Visio, Dynamics CRM Online and more.

For more detail on the differences between the new plans, take a look at this breakdown:


New benefits for existing customers too

The new value isn’t just for new customers. Starting on October 1, 2014, Microsoft will be making changes for existing customers to bring them some of the new plan benefits before they move. Small Business and Small Business Premium customers will see their seat cap raise from 25 to 300 while Midsize Business customers (whose seat cap is already 300), will see their price be reduced from $15/user/month to $12.5/user/month. As an existing customer, you will realize this price reduction the next time you renew. New Midsize Business customers will be able to take advantage of this reduced price starting August 1, 2014.

What does this mean for my current plan?

This new lineup will replace our current plans for SMBs over time – Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business. Microsoft's policy is to provide 12 months’ notice for any changes to a customer’s core subscription, therefore as an existing customer you have no required action to take regarding your Office 365 subscription until your first renewal after October 1, 2015.

After that date, you will need to select one of the new plans at your next renewal date. There will be no downtime or data loss during this process. This chart sums it up:


Until you renew to one of the new plans, you will continue to receive all the benefits of Office 365 you do today – including any feature and security updates (e.g. admin center updates, new suite navigation) and any new services (e.g. adding Yammer to Midsize Business, increase in OneDrive for Business storage) Microsoft releases that are relevant to your subscription. You will also be able to add seats, add new subscriptions, and renew your existing subscription just as you do today. No capabilities will be removed or reduced.

Why wait until October 1, 2015?

Most customers will have the ability to opt-in and move to the new plans after they launch. However, Microsoft recommend that most customers should simply continue using their current plans as they do today and move to the similar new plan at their first renewal after October 1, 2015. With the matching updates for our existing plans, only a small number of customers with very specific needs would realize value from moving plans before October 1, 2015.

Some customers will be unable to opt-in and move to the new plans immediately at launch. Microsoft are delivering an update for these customers to enable them to move to the new subscriptions by October 1, 2015.

Ahead of the October 1, 2014 release, each Small Business, Small Business Premium and Mid-size Business customer should have received a custom communication about these changes in their Office 365 Message Center. This message will explain these changes in more detail, with plan comparisons as well as guidance on how and when to move.

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About the Author:

Steve Wiggins  

Steve is a highly experienced technical trainer with over 10 years of specialisation in Software Application Development, Project Management, VBA Solutions and Desktop Applications training. His practical experience in .NET programming, advanced solution development and project management enables him to train clients at all levels of seniority and experience. Steve also currently manages the IT infrastructure for New Horizons of Brisbane, providing him with daily hands-on experience with SCCM, Windows Server 2012 and Windows 8.

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