Microsoft Preps New Office 365 Plans for SMBs

This fall, the company is revamping its Office software subscriptions for small and midsized businesses.

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Microsoft is working on three new Office 365 plans for small and midsized businesses (SMBs), the company announced on July 9.

Microsoft Office General Manager Kirk Gregersen revealed in a company blog post that his company has plans to "release three new Office 365 plans tailored to meet the needs of small and midsized businesses (SMBs), ranging from 1 to approximately 250 employees," on Oct. 1. The announcement builds on last month's release of the Office 365 for business public roadmap, he said.

The roadmap is an effort to provide Office 365 customers with visibility into what's ahead for the cloud-enabled productivity platform. "It provides a few months' view of new features, enhancements, and major updates," said Jake Zborowski, an Office 365 group product manager, when the roadmap was published.

The new plans will replace Office 365 Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business "over time," said Gregersen. The current Office 365 Enterprise lineup will remain unaffected.

Microsoft's new Office 365 subscription plans for SMBs are:

  • Office 365 Business: Provides full, installable versions of Office applications (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Publisher) along with 1TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage. It costs $8.25 per user per month.
  • Office 365 Business Essentials: Provides cloud-delivered Office Online apps, along with email, calendaring, online meetings, instant messaging, video conferencing, Yammer and Active Directory support, and OneDrive cloud storage and file sharing. It costs $5 per user per month.
  • Office 365 Business Premium: Offers "everything" from both the Office 365 Business and Business Essentials and costs $12.50 per user per month.

Existing customers stand to gain from the change, said Gregersen. "Small Business and Small Business Premium customers will see their seat cap raise from 25 to 300 while Midsize Business customers (whose seat cap is already 300) will see their price be reduced from $15/user/month to $12.5/user/month." All of the new Office 365 plans have a 300-seat limit.

In any case, current customers have ample time to prepare for the change, assured the company.

"Our policy is to provide 12 months' notice for any changes to a customer's core subscription, therefore as an existing customer you have no required action to take regarding your Office 365 subscription until your first renewal after October 1, 2015," stated Gregersen. In September, Microsoft plans to issue guidance on how customers should proceed.

For now, the company suggests that current customers don't rush into things.

Microsoft recommends that most customers "simply continue using their current plans as they do today and move to the similar new plan at their first renewal after October 1, 2015," said Gregersen. Reason being, "only a small number of customers with very specific needs would realize value from moving plans before October 1, 2015," as the company will issue matching updates to its existing plans in the interim.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...