Top 5 subscription options for Office 365

Monday 29 April 2013

People from all different walks of life, sectors and industries can benefit from the hosted communication and collaboration features offered by Microsoft Office 365. Here's our quick run-down of the various productivity suite plans designed to meet the needs of a variety of organisations.

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)

Microsoft offers three plans for UK SMBs seeking Office 365 functionality. The entry-level package Hosted email (Exchange Online) is designed to enable workers to step up to enterprise-grade email with little outlay and the minimum of fuss. Office 365 Small Business introduces users to web-based communication and productivity services, while the higher-tier Office 365 Small Business Premium empowers firms with advanced virtual working solutions, allowing employees to operate effectively from almost any location.

Midsize/larger businesses

Larger companies also have three Office 365 plans to choose from. Office 365 Enterprise (Plan E1) is designed for organisations seeking business-class email, filesharing, conferencing and other productivity services in the cloud, but without a full range of mobile working features. Office 365 Midsize Business provides a wider range of options, with the addition of Office Mobile Apps - enabling users to access Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on their mobile device. This tariff is designed for businesses seeking to deliver the desktop version of Office to their mobile workforce. The third option is Office 365 Enterprise (Plan E3), which is designed for businesses with more than 250 users. This offers everything in the Midsize Business plan plus advanced enterprise services.

Kiosk workers

Microsoft Office 365 can also be used by employees who have no desktop or office of their own, courtesy of the Kiosk plan. This enables employees who are always on the move - or those who do not have a personalised PC - to take advance of the suite's range of communication and collaboration features. The package offers 1GB of mailbox storage per user with Exchange Online, web-based access to email, calendar, contacts, and the company directory through Outlook Web App, access to the company intranet and website via SharePoint Online, and the ability to view and make basic document edits using Office Web Apps.

Government bodies

It is not just private sector businesses that can benefit from the productivity features provided by Office 365. Increasingly, public sector bodies are looking to take advantage of the solution. Microsoft offers four different plans for government departments - Exchange Online (Plan 1), Exchange Online (Plan 2), Office 365 Suite (Plan E1) and Office 365 Suite (Plan E3) - each of which offers a range of communication and collaboration features.

Users are required to verify their eligibility to use a government plan, signing a contract confirming they are an official organisation. Bodies permitted to sign up for public sector plans include government agencies, department offices, divisions, units and other entities of state or local government. County, borough, commonwealth, city, municipality, town, township and special purpose district authorities are also entitled to use Office 365 for government, provided they have been established by law.

Educational institutions

Schools and other educational bodies can try Office 365 for free by signing up for a 50-user trial. As with other public sector bodies, they will be required to attest that they are an eligible customer. Three different options exist - Plan A2, Plan A3 and Plan A4. Each tariff offers 25GB of hosted email storage per user, Office Web Apps, web conferencing facilities, intranet sites, archive directory integration, spam and malware protection, and community support. In addition, Plans A3 and A4 offer desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, and more, advanced email, eDiscovery centre tools, and advanced voice. Plan A4 also features enterprise voice capabilities, with auto attendant capabilities.

Posted by Alex Boardman