Office 365… basic questions answered

Let’s face it… PC, Mac, tablet, or phone... in today’s mobile environment you need to be able to work across all devices, from anywhere, and have a consistent, clean, and fast experience doing it.  Microsoft recognized this trend and has produced Office 365 in response.  Whatever device you're working on, Office 365 can give you access to everything you need... your documents, email, calendars, contacts, and team sites all come with you… and it can do it in a native mobile fashion.  They even added a portable settings ability so that the setting you choose roam with you too, so your files are up-to-date and ready for you to pick up right where you left off, no matter what device you're using.


So the question becomes, “What actually comes with Office 365?”


This is where things can begin to become complicated.  Microsoft has chosen to try to make this offering available to as many people as possible and that has led to what can seem like a complex option and pricing structure.  However, once you parse the information, it is easy to understand what comes with the basic package and what the upgrades are.  All plans offer Office Web Apps.  These consist of online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote and these applications can be accessed and modified via a web browser.  All plans also offer business-class email, online conferencing, presence, instant messaging, and simple file sharing which we look at in more detail below.  (Education clients, including teachers, schools, and students have access to special pricing and platforms.  Follow this link to review those options.)


Now come all the questions about pricing and options...


The simple answer about pricing is that at present no plan costs more than $20 a user per month.  (In fact, qualifying non-profits can actually get free versions of O365.)  But let’s look at two specific offerings that we at Uncommon feel fit the majority of our clients: Midsize and Enterprise.  The O365 plans for these two groups share some features while other features are strictly for the Enterprise.  Shared features include:



  • An SLA with 99.9% uptime and premium anti-malware protection and anti-spam filtering
  • Business-class email
    • Shared calendars, 50 GB of storage space per user, and the ability to use your own domain name
  • Active Director Integration
    • Manage user credentials and permissions. Single sign-on and synchronization with Active Directory
  • Online conferencing, presence, and IM
    • Conduct meetings over the web with HD video conferencing, screen sharing, and instant messaging. Share presence, IM, and audio calling with Skype users
  • Simple file sharing
    • OneDrive Business gives each user 25 GB of personal storage they can access from anywhere and that syncs3 with their PC. Easily share files internally and externally and control who sees and edits them
  • Intranet site for your teams
    • SharePoint sites provide workspaces with customizable security settings for individual teams within the organization
  • Site mailboxes
    • Store and share email and documents in project-specific folders, allowing for easier team collaboration.
  • Public website
    • Market your business with a website that is easy to set up, using your own company domain name. No additional hosting fees
  • Mobile apps for your devices
    • Access, edit, and view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on Windows Phones. Use the OneNote, OWA, Lync Mobile, and SharePoint Newsfeed apps on most devices
  • Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones
    • Access, edit, and view Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents on iPhones and Android phones


Features that only come with the Enterprise E3 platform:


  • Advanced email
    • Archiving and legal hold capabilities, plus unlimited storage
  • eDiscovery Center
    • Tools to support compliance. Search across SharePoint sites and Exchange mailboxes
  • Voicemail
    • Hosted voicemail support with auto attendant capabilities
  • Business Intelligence
    • Create and manage interactive dashboards with multiple data so
  • Yammer Enterprise
    • Enterprise social networking with advanced support, security, administration, and integrations


Most mid-market clients should be good with the O365 Midsize Business offering (good for up to 300 users) which is $15 a user per month.  For larger enterprises, or for those mid-market organizations that need a little extra, the O365 Enterprise E3 offering is probably the best choice at $20 per user per month.


Office 365 is the same Office you already know and use every day… and because Office 365 is powered by the cloud, you can get to your applications and files from virtually anywhere (PC, Mac, and select mobile devices) and they're always up to date. Same goes for application updates to features… because it is hosted online, the upgrade occurs automatically with no down time.


We hope that this information gives you a good spring board for internal discussions about the future of your Office environment; however, we encourage you to contact a local Managed Microsoft Partner (such as Uncommon Solutions in the Denver area) for an in-depth conversation on how Office 365 can become a predictable and valued asset of your organization.