Office 365: A Good Deal For Small Businesses

Update, March 2024:

When Office 365 was first unveiled back in June 2011, it marked a significant leap towards cloud computing. It brought the familiar Microsoft Office suite along with a range of collaborative tools into the realm of online services. A decade later, this suite has not only undergone a rebranding but also expanded into an integrated set of tools designed to meet the complexities of modern business needs.

The Evolution of Office 365 to Microsoft 365

In 2020, the transformation was set in motion as Office 365 transitioned to Microsoft 365. This rebranding to Microsoft 365 reflects the array of additional AI-powered tools and cloud-based services included beyond the traditional Office apps. They all work to boost productivity in the evolving workspace.

Microsoft 365 combines what you knew as Office 365 with the best of Windows 10 and enterprise-grade device management and security features. This suite serves not just businesses but also education and consumer markets. It responds to the diverse needs of users in a cloud-first, mobile-first world.

What’s New in Microsoft 365?

Aside from the new name, there have been several enhancements and updates:

  • Expanded Plans: Tailored plans now cater to organizations and users of all sizes. They have specific features that adjust to various business needs.
  • Advanced Security: Today’s Microsoft 365 places a strong emphasis on security and privacy. Microsoft ensures organizations stay protected against emerging cyber threats.
  • AI and Automation: With in-built AI tools and automation capabilities, Microsoft 365 takes productivity to the next level. It streamlines repetitive tasks and provides intelligent insights.
  • Cloud-First and Mobile-First: Accessibility is key in today’s market. Microsoft 365 ensures that users can collaborate and access documents from any device and from anywhere.
  • Regular Updates: Microsoft’s commitment to keeping its service offering relevant means continuous improvements and new features are regularly rolled out.

Staying Competitive with Regular Updates and State-of-the-Art Applications

Today, the platform includes cutting-edge applications such as Microsoft Teams. Teams has become essential for team collaboration, video conferencing, and business communication, especially amidst the rise of remote work. It also includes familiar productivity applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Furthermore, OneDrive (formerly SkyDrive) and SharePoint have seen major updates to provide better cloud storage solutions and teamwork functionalities. These services create a seamless experience for file storage, sharing, and real-time collaboration.

Modern Plans for Today’s Business

No matter the size of your enterprise, Microsoft has you covered:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic: Tailored for small businesses and medium enterprises, this plan gives you tools to kick-start your business. It includes custom business emails, web/mobile versions of Office apps, and Microsoft Teams for seamless communication. You’ll benefit from identity and access management, 1 TB of cloud storage per employee, and over ten additional business apps including Microsoft Bookings and Planner. This service is backed by anytime support and secure cloud services.
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard: Building on the Business Basic, it adds desktop versions of key Office apps for versatility. This plan includes innovative features like webinars with attendee tools, collaborative workspaces in Microsoft Loop, and creative possibilities with Microsoft Clipchamp. Copilot is available as an add-on to enhance productivity.
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium: For businesses requiring robust cyberthreat protection and advanced device management, the Premium plan offers everything in the Business Standard. It adds on sophisticated identity management, enterprise-grade device protection, and sensitive information handling capabilities with Azure Information Protection. Copilot can also be added to this tier.
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for Business: Focused on the Office applications suite, this option provides desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook without the inclusion of collaborative communication tools. It offers 1 TB of storage per user and robust phone and web support for any issues encountered, facilitating efficient individual productivity.

For large organizations:
  • Microsoft 365 E3, E5, and F3 plans: Provides progressively advanced options for enterprise solutions. Plans include full Office applications, email and calendar services, meeting and voice capabilities, and advanced security and compliance tools.

Better Value for Small Businesses

Pricing models for Microsoft’s suite have come a long way since Office 365’s release. Subscriptions offer cost-effective solutions for small business users, with a flexible structure that allows businesses to scale services according to their growth. Rather than overnight expenses for software updates, Microsoft 365 provides continual upgrades and support. It ensures that your business always has the best tools at hand.

Microsoft’s commitment to an affordable subscription model means that for one reasonable monthly fee, your business has access to the latest software without the sticker shock. And for those concerned about the overhead, the lack of need for on-premises hardware and the associated maintenance can lead to substantial cost savings.

Leveraging Microsoft 365 For Your Small Business

With features tailormade for small businesses, Microsoft 365 stands out as a frontrunner for office productivity. Capitalizing on the all-in-one suite can not only streamline your internal processes but also enhance your brand’s professionalism with sophisticated and easy-to-use tools.

Office 365 is a subscription-based online office, software and services suite. It offers access to various services and software built around the Microsoft Office platform. Office 365 was officially launched on June 28, 2011.

With Office 365, business users can get an email server in the cloud using any domain name that they own. They can also get the most up-to-date Microsoft Office software, SkyDrive, Lync and SharePoint. This makes it one of the best small business IT solutions available.

Office 365 Pricing

Perhaps most importantly to price conscious business consumers, Microsoft’s new subscription-based model for its Office productivity suite has a price tag that is quite appealing for small business users. In many cases, switching to a subscription-based plan from Microsoft is much cheaper than purchasing new versions of Office for any moderately sized business with many users, especially when the retail price for the top-level edition of Office on a PC, Office Professional, goes for around $400 per user.

Office 365 Plans

Office 365 has a number of plans that can appeal to many types of users. These include:

  • Office 365 Home Premium: Aimed at mainstream consumers and families. This plan includes access to most Office applications for home/non-commercial use (excluding InfoPath and Lync) on up to five devices. Also includes 20 GB of additional SkyDrive storage,  and 60 minutes of Skype international calls per month.
  • Office 365 Small Business: Offers access to hosted Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync services only.
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium: Aimed at businesses with 1-10 employees. Offers access to the Office applications on up to five devices per user. It also includes hosted Exchange (with 25 GB mailbox), SharePoint (with 10 GB of storage, plus an additional 500 MB per user), and Lync services.
  • Office 365 ProPlus: Offers access to the Office 2013 Professional Plus applications for up to 25 users on up to five devices per user.
  • Office 365 Midsize Business: Aimed at businesses with 10-250 employees. Offers access to the Office 2013 applications from ProPlus. It also includes hosted Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync services.
  • Office 365 Enterprise: Intended for use in enterprise environments. Offers access to all Office applications, hosted Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync services. It also includes enterprise-specific legal compliance features and support.

Conclusion

With Office 365, a business can provide their employees with the most up-to-date Microsoft Office and top-notch email service, without the need for an in-house Exchange server. This combined with Office’s many other features makes it a good bargain.

SOHO Solutions, Inc. can help your company setup Office 365. Contact us today for more information on small business IT solutions, or to to find out how the benefits of Office 365 will help your organization.

Frequently Asked Questions

Office 365 was rebranded as Microsoft 365 on April 21, 2020. This change reflected Microsoft’s broader vision for the suite of productivity tools, encompassing not just traditional office applications but also additional services and features.

Office 365 initially provided access to Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook) and cloud-based services like OneDrive, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, and Teams. Microsoft 365 expanded upon Office 365 by including all its features and adding extras such as Windows 10 Enterprise licenses, advanced security capabilities, device management tools, and analytics services. This broader suite aims to offer businesses and organizations a comprehensive solution for both productivity and security needs.

The cost of Microsoft 365 for a small business can vary depending on the specific plan chosen and the number of users. Microsoft offers several subscription plans tailored to different business sizes and needs. For small businesses, the pricing typically starts at around $5 to $12 per user per month for basic plans, while more advanced plans with additional features may cost up to $20 per user per month or more. It’s important for businesses to carefully evaluate their requirements and choose a plan that best suits their budget and workflow. Additionally, Microsoft often offers discounts for annual commitments and promotions for new subscribers, so it’s worth exploring these options to optimize costs.

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