Microsoft 365 for Business: Comparison of All Plans

The advantages of Microsoft 365 for business are numerous. Whether you are a solopreneur, owner of a smaller business, or CEO of a big corporation, the 365 suite is a versatile solution that can improve overall efficiency and streamline processes.

Microsoft 365 offers several different license types, all based on subscription plans, that you can choose from. If you are unsure which plan would best fit your needs and requirements, this article serves as a guide. It provides a general overview of the different variants of Microsoft 365 for business, as well as a handy comparison table. Continue reading if you are interested in the details.

Basic Microsoft 365 Tools and Applications for Businesses

The absolute core of the suite for business is the set of Microsoft Office tools, including Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel. These useful tools are included in every type of subscription plan, although not every plan offers desktop versions. In addition to the essential Office applications, the suite also offers a variety of other features that are designed to enhance productivity and improve collaboration within an organization, like SharePoint for easy document sharing and Teams for seamless communication.

There are plenty of features that businesses can make use of, and listing all of them would be too extensive. We will explore the most important aspects of the different Microsoft 365 licenses for businesses, though.

Overview of Microsoft 365 plans

Microsoft offers a number of different subscription plans for business enterprises, and usually, the more advanced ones, like E3 and E5, are recommended for bigger organizations due to their extensive range of features and capabilities. The Business plans work great for smaller companies and solopreneurs.

Subscription Plans for Businesses

Microsoft 365 Business Basic: This is the lowest tier subscription plan for Microsoft 365, offering the basic essentials. It includes web and mobile versions of Word,PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, as well as Teams and 1TB of storage within OneDrive. Other important features are Microsoft Viva Connections and Viva Engage, which serve as employee engagement and communication tools. Additionally, the Business Basic plan provides limited access to SharePoint.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard: This plan offers all the features included in the Business Basic plan, but with additional benefits. Most importantly, it gives the user access to desktop versions of the Office apps, and allows for installation on up to five devices per user, regardless of the device type. It also includes the extra features of Microsoft Editor.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium: Being the highest tier of the Microsoft 365 Business plans, this one offers all the features of the Business Standard, and more. Among the additional advantages of this plan are extra security features, like Microsoft Defender for Business, Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps Discovery, and BitLocker. It also comes with Windows 11 Business with Azure Virtual Desktop. It is the only Business plan that offers Intune access for device management and advanced security capabilities.

Subscriptions for enterprises:

Microsoft 365 E3: This plan offers all the features of the Business Premium plan, along with additional advanced security and compliance capabilities. It offers access to Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI for data analysis and visualization. Power Virtual Agent is another useful tool that enables businesses to build their own chatbots. This plan also includes Windows 11 Enterprise edition.

Microsoft 365 E5: In terms of Microsoft 365 for business, this is the most comprehensive plan. It includes all the features of the lower-tier plans and is similar to the E3 version. However, as opposed to E3, E5 offers access to advanced security and compliance features, as well as Power BI Pro, which is often sought after for its data analytics and visualization capabilities. It is the most expensive plan, but at the same time, it offers an unparalleled level of security and the widest range of features.

Comparing the Functionality of the Different Plans

  Business Basic Business Standard Business Premium E3 E5
Microsoft Office suite Web and mobile only Yes Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft Teams Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft Intune No No Plan 1 Yes Yes
Power Apps Yes, limited Yes, limited Yes, limited Yes Yes
Power BI Pro No No No No Yes
Endpoint and app management No No Yes Yes Yes
Windows provided? No No Business edition Enterprise edition Enterprise edition
Azure Virtual Desktop No No Yes Yes Yes
SharePoint Plan 1 Plan 1 Plan 1 Plan 2 Plan 2
Advanced threat protection No No Partial Yes Yes, with additional features

Differences Between Microsoft 365 Subscriptions for Business:

Microsoft Apps for Business is another way to get access to Microsoft 365 tools, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote, as well as Publisher and Access (the latter two only for PCs). It is designed for small and medium-sized businesses that don't need the security or data analysis tools that specific plans offer. It provides the essentials with one license, without the need to purchase anything separately or subscribe to any of the Business or Enterprise plans. How does it compare to the subscription plans? Let's investigate.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business vs Business Basic

As stated before, the Apps for Business only includes the essentials and is more limited than the Business Basic plan. It does not include the extra apps like Teams, Bookings, Planner, and others that organizations might find useful. Business Basic also offers web versions of the Microsoft Office software instead of desktop ones, but which is preferred depends on the specific needs and preferences of the user. In comparison to Apps for Business, the Business Basic plan is less expensive.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business vs Business Standard

Both Apps for Business and Business Standard plans include installable desktop versions of the Microsoft 365 apps, making it easier for those who prefer to work offline or have limited internet access. However, the Business Standard plan allows users to create their own custom business e-mail addresses as well as host webinars and meetings via Teams, which is not included in Apps for Business. The Standard subscription plan also includes access to video editing tools with Clipchamp.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business vs Enterprise

Apps for Business and the Enterprise licenses for Microsoft 365 services and apps are entirely different. Enterprise subscription plans are very comprehensive and include all the basics plus additional applications and features tailored specifically for large organizations and corporations, while Apps for Business only offers the bare essentials. Apps such as Power Virtual Agents, Power Automate, or Power BI are only included in the Business and Enterprise plans. As opposed to Apps for Business, Microsoft 365 Enterprise editions also provide advanced security features, such as data loss prevention and advanced threat protection.

While the price of Enterprise plans is much higher than Apps for Business, the added benefits make it a worthwhile investment for big companies with extensive needs. However, the Enterprise license with all its extra features may not be cost-effective for smaller businesses.

Benefits of a Microsoft 365 subscription for business

There are many benefits to having a Microsoft 365 subscription for business. The most obvious one is, of course, getting access to a suite of useful tools and services that can enhance productivity and efficiency. Even the most basic Microsoft Office applications like Word, Excel, or PowerPoint can help improve work efficiency and streamline business processes. These have become a standard in most office work environments nowadays.

In addition to the most standard Office software, a Microsoft 365 subscription also offers some more advanced features. For example, OneDrive enables users to store and access their files from anywhere, making collaboration and remote work easier, as well as helping to ensure business continuity in case of an on-premises technical issue. Another valuable feature is Microsoft Teams, which improves communication and collaboration within the organization.

Furthermore, Microsoft provides continuous updates to its software, ensuring that users have access to the latest features and security patches. Being able to safeguard their data from potential threats and staying up to date with the newest technology is essential for businesses that want to stay competitive in the market.

In terms of security, Microsoft 365 also offers advanced protection features, such as multi-factor authentication, data encryption, and real-time threat detection. This is crucial to stay safe from cyberattacks, which are, unfortunately, growing in frequency and sophistication.

Which Plans Are Right for Different Types of Business?

Small businesses

If your business only requires access to Microsoft Office tools, and you do not need the extra functionalities other plans offer, Apps for Business should be just enough. However, if your business needs extra collaboration and communication features, such as Microsoft Teams or SharePoint, or online access to your Office applications, one of the Business plans should work. Smaller businesses may find Business Basic and Business Standard the most affordable, as the Premium tier costs significantly more and might be too excessive for a one-person business or a very small team.

Medium companies

Medium-sized companies with multiple users may benefit from the additional features and scalability offered by the Business Premium plan. While Business Standard would do just fine, 

Premium offers a higher level of security (like Microsoft Defender for Business and Microsoft Defender Exploit Guard) and extra productivity tools that can improve workflow and communication within the organization. It also includes the Microsoft Intune Plan 1, with mobile device management capabilities and endpoint analytics.

Enterprise-level organizations

Microsoft Enterprise is a product aimed at large companies and corporations. As opposed to the Business licenses, it does not limit the number of users to just 300 and offers everything at a larger scale - for example, a 100Gb mailbox per user instead of 50Gb. The E3 license offers access to all the features and capabilities of Microsoft 365, including the latest versions of Microsoft Office applications and multiple collaboration tools that are essential in today's digital workplaces. E5 license additionally offers access to Power BI Pro, which is a fantastic data visualization and business intelligence tool, especially for businesses that work with big data. E5 is also more secure than E3, with Privileged Identity Management and Identity Protection features, making it suitable for businesses that require an extra layer of protection against cyber threats and data breaches. 

How to Choose the Best Microsoft 365 for Business?

The benefits of Microsoft 365 for Business are many, and it comes as no surprise that it is one of the most popular productivity suites in the market. However, when it comes to choosing a specific plan for your organization, everything depends on your unique needs and requirements.

The size of your business, the security level you need, the devices your employees will use, every single thing has to be taken into account before making a decision. We hope that the comparison we have provided will aid you in choosing the best one without issues.