Launched in 2011, Office 365 is a line of subscription services offered as part of the Microsoft Office product line. Users access Office 365 offerings through plans that allow a subscription-based use of Microsoft’s Office software suite (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access and Publisher), as well as the following cloud-based SaaS products:
Skype for Business
Skype for Business delivers instant messaging, HD video conferencing and unified communication to Office 365 subscribers. It has a modern and sleek look with features sets that would be irresistible to organizations considering apps like Slack.
SharePoint Online allows teams to sync information, share files and collaborate seamlessly, no matter their location. There are built-in administrative controls in SharePoint that prevent users from sharing confidential or sensitive data with anyone outside the organization.
OneDrive for Business
All subscribers get 1 TB of OneDrive storage space, although administrators on Enterprise editions can upgrade users to unlimited storage. OneDrive comes with sync clients for every desktop platform as well as a Files on Demand feature that allows subscribers to use File Explorer to view and manage their cloud-based storage.
This business-class email service gives all users in an organization access to a 50 GB mailbox. Users can access emails via web browsers or through the Outlook app on mobile devices, Mac and Windows computers.
Exchange Online comes with built-in malware and spam filtering capabilities, and some subscriptions contain more advanced features like eDiscovery.
Other apps and services
All Enterprise plans include Power BI Pro, an advanced business analytics tool and the Yammer social networking service. Business Premium plans come with CRM (customer relationship management), invoicing and a range of other tools and services for SMBs.
Office 365 editions
The exact mix of online services and apps available in Office 365 depends on the edition and plan in question. The Personal and Home editions contain apps and services meant for individuals, students, families and general home use.
The Enterprise and Business editions come with advanced features, collaborative applications and management tools built to meet enterprise security and compliance needs.
Office 365 Business Plans
Let’s take a look at the various plans under Office 365 Business edition
Office 365 Business Essentials. Under this plan, users do not have access to Office desktop apps. They can only access online services like OneDrive for Business and Exchange Online. This plan is ideal for organizations that already have Office desktop programs and only want to use Microsoft’s cloud storage and email offerings.
Office 365 Business. This plan comes with OneDrive for Business and the Office desktop apps. Small businesses that already use third-party email services and only want access to cloud storage and Office apps can take advantage of this plan.
Office 365 Business Premium. This is the full-package plan that comes with all Office desktop apps and online services. Business plans are intended for SMBs and support up to 300 users.
The following Enterprise edition plans are for larger organizations and support an unlimited number of users.
Office 365 ProPlus. This plan comes with all desktop apps as well as cloud file storage (OneDrive for Business). Exchange Online and other services are not part of this plan.
Enterprise E1. This comes with online versions of Microsoft Office apps and other online services but no desktop apps. It’s best for businesses that want to continue using their existing Office package while moving their cloud storage and emails to Microsoft servers.
Enterprise E3. This has the full collection of desktop apps and online services. It also comes with advanced email hold and discovery features for handling litigation issues.
Enterprise E5. This plan includes enterprise-grade security and advanced eDiscovery features. Every subscription automatically latches on to Office 365 Threat Intelligence and integrates with Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection.
Aside from these plans, there are special packages for educational institutions, governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations. Businesses that aren’t satisfied with Microsoft’s preconfigured plans can subscribe on an a la carte basis – they can choose the apps and services they want.
Office 365’s Admin Center
Subscriptions, security, features and licenses can be managed from Office 365’s Admin Center. Users with admin roles can configure options for billing, licensing, managing users/groups, as well as management options for Exchange Online and OneDrive for Business.
Due to the complexity of this console, organizations should have an Office 365 administrator to manage users effectively and configure security options properly.
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