Microsoft Office 365 for Small Business 

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Microsoft has worked to make Office the business productivity solution of choice for users on Windows, Mac and mobile (Android, iOS, Windows Phone) platforms. The latest Office offering for small business customers comes in the form of Office 365, which bundles many of Microsoft’s productivity applications together, and is available for a monthly or annual fee.

This article will discuss the features and benefits that Office 365 brings over other solutions such as Libre Office, Open Office or Google Docs, and make a case for why your business should (or shouldn’t) utilize Microsoft Office 365. Read on to learn more.

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What is Included with Office 365?

Office 365 comes in three standard packages, costs are per user:

  • Business Essentials ($5/m): Online version of Office, email services with 50 GB mailbox, 1 TB file storage using OneDrive, and HD video conferencing using Lync and/or Skype

  • Business Premium ($12.50/m): Everything in the Business Essentials plan as well as full versions of desktop Office apps (excluding Access), and Office apps on tablets and smartphones

  • Enterprise E3 ($20/m): Everything in the Business Premium plan as well as Microsoft Access, advanced IT controls, self-service Business Intelligence, and compliance and an information collection

Who are These Packages For?

When a small business is looking into the different types of packages that are available for Office 365, it may not be immediately obvious which package is right for a given situation. The packages are targeted at the following groups:

  • Business Essentials: Employees who need email services and cloud storage but do not need to create or edit Office documents on a regular basis. Online versions of the Office apps will work for light document creation and editing, but nothing feature intensive

  • Business Premium: Employees who need a full version of at least one of the apps that are part of the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, etc.). The package will allow for maximum productivity with all Office apps (excluding Access)

  • Enterprise E3: This package offers the highest level of features and functionality across all the packages. Businesses that work with databases, or large amounts of data and require advanced control over that data should contact Microsoft to learn more about this plan

What Advantage Does Office Have Over Free Solutions?

Microsoft Office is undoubtedly the most popular office productivity software in the world and represents a core part of Microsoft’s business. The main advantage that office brings its users is power. Users writing complicated documents that require power user features will often have the best experience with Office. Office simply has the highest amount of features when compared to other office solutions. The primary advantages of Office can be summarized into the following points:

  • Most up to date and fully featured office productivity software suite

  • Integration with other Microsoft services such as Skype, Outlook and OneDrive for collaboration, email and cloud storage solutions

  • Full customer support from Microsoft that can be accessed 24/7

  • Constant updates and improvements – Office is one of the core components of Microsoft’s business, and the one they strive to keep a step ahead of the competition

  • Office can run nearly every major file type. Many of the standard document filetypes (.doc, .docx) are the default on Microsoft Office apps, and Office applications are designed to be able to open and edit the widest range of file formats

What about Google Apps for Work?

We recently wrote an article about Google’s Apps for Work initiative. It offers a compelling online software suite that contains email service, cloud storage, collaboration via Google Hangouts, security controls and productivity apps in the form of Google Docs.

Google’s strength is its email and storage solutions (Gmail and Google Drive), while its weaknesses are in the productivity and collaboration areas. Google Apps for Work is a competitor with the Office 365 Business Essentials package, and a compelling arguments can be made for both packages.

The advantage that Office 365 brings is the ability to upgrade to the Business Premium or Enterprise packages in order to gain added apps and functionality, while the Google Apps for Work program cannot offer increased functionality beyond the base package. Click here to learn more about Google Apps for Work.

Additional Reading and Other Office Application Suites

Other popular office productivity product suites are the following:

Product Suite

Available Platforms

Apple Productivity Apps

(formally known as ‘iWork’)

Mac

Libre Office

Linux, Mac, Windows

Open Office

Linux, Mac, Windows

Google Apps for Work

Online


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