Evolving Office 365 plans for small and midsized businesses

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Two weeks ago, we announced the release of the Office 365 for business public roadmap in response to your feedback for more visibility into future Office 365 updates. Today we are continuing that effort by sharing how our Office 365 plans will be evolving over the next few months.

Making Office 365 even better for small and midsized businesses

On October 1, 2014, we will release three new Office 365 plans tailored to meet the needs of small and midsized businesses (SMBs), ranging from 1 to approximately 250 employees. The new plans are:

  • Office 365 Business – The full Office applications – Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Publisher, with 1TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage to access, edit and share your documents across your Windows PC, Mac, iPad, Windows tablet and smartphone.
  • Office 365 Business Essentials – The core cloud services for running your business – business class email and calendaring, Office Online, online meetings, IM, video conferencing, cloud storage and file sharing and much more.
  • Office 365 Business Premium – Get everything from both the Office 365 Business and Business Essentials plans.

This new lineup will replace our current plans for SMBs over time – Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business (more on that below). The current Enterprise plans will remain the same. You can learn more about our existing plans on Office.

This new lineup reflects the feedback we’ve received from SMB customers about how they want to get started and grow with Office 365. The new plans provide the following benefits:

  • New Choice: The Office 365 Business plan ($8.25/user/month) makes it simple to get just the familiar, full Office apps at a great price – always up to date and available on all your devices including your PC, Mac, iPad and smartphone. The included 1TB of cloud storage makes it easy to access and edit your important files from anywhere.
  • New Value: Business Premium includes Midsize Business’ services at the Small Business Premium price of $12.50 user/month. Business Essentials matches Small Business on price ($5/user/month) with improved features and additional services like Yammer and Active Directory support. The higher seat limit of 300 means even more businesses can take advantage of the great value these plans provide.
  • New Flexibility: As you grow and your technology needs change, you can move your company (or just specific users) to an Enterprise plan, a different Business plan, or even add solutions like Project, Visio, Dynamics CRM Online and more.

For more detail on the differences between the new plans, take a look at this breakdown:

July 9_image 1

New benefits for existing customers too

The new value isn’t just for our new customers. Starting on October 1, 2014, we will be making changes for existing customers to bring them some of the new plan benefits before they move. 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. As an existing customer, you will realize this price reduction the next time you renew. New Midsize Business customers will be able to take advantage of this reduced price starting August 1, 2014.

What does this mean for my current plan?

This new lineup will replace our current plans for SMBs over time – Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business. 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.

After that date, you will need to select one of the new plans at your next renewal date. There will be no downtime or data loss during this process. This chart sums it up:

July 9 image 2

Until you renew to one of the new plans, you will continue to receive all the benefits of Office 365 you do today – including any feature and security updates (e.g. admin center updates, new suite navigation) and any new services (e.g. adding Yammer to Midsize Business, increase in OneDrive for Business storage) Microsoft releases that are relevant to your subscription. You will also be able to add seats, add new subscriptions, and renew your existing subscription just as you do today. No capabilities will be removed or reduced.

Why wait until October 1, 2015?

Most customers will have the ability to opt-in and move to the new plans after they launch. However, we recommend that most customers should 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. With the matching updates for our existing plans, only a small number of customers with very specific needs would realize value from moving plans before October 1, 2015.

Some customers will be unable to opt-in and move to the new plans immediately at launch. We are delivering an update for these customers to enable them to move to the new subscriptions by October 1, 2015.

This September, ahead of the October 1, 2014 release, each Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business customer will receive a custom communication about these changes in their Office 365 Message Center. This message will explain these changes in more detail, with plan comparisons as well as guidance on how and when to move.

What’s next?

We will be sharing more details about this announcement next week at our Worldwide Partner Conference in Washington D.C., July 14-17, 2014.

All prices in the blog are listed at Estimated Retail Price per user per month, $USD with annual commitment. Local prices may vary.




  1. Awesome!!! As an existing Small Business Office 365 admin, how to I get our subscription migrated (we need the flexibility of the new plans versus waiting until October 2015 for something we could use this year!

    • @agoda: Stay tuned to your Office 365 Message Center during the beginning of September. Ahead of the October 1st, 2014 release, we will contact you with instructions explaining these changes in more detail, with guidance on how and when to move.

  2. Great news but there are two points that need clarification:
    1) In which of the new plans will Self-service Business Intelligence and InfoPath be included?
    2) Is the “On Premises Active Directory synchronization for single sign on” the same capability as the Active Directory integration in the existing plans?

    • @Evangelos: Core BI tools in Excel, like PowerMap & PowerQuery to public data sets (like Wikipedia) will be available for Business & Business Premium customers.

      Advanced BI tools in Excel, like PowerPivot, PowerQuery (to enterprise data sources like SQL Server) & PowerView, will be available in our Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Enterprise E3 plans. PowerBI for Office 365 will continue to be an add-on for Enterprise E3 plans, as it requires the underlying features of SharePoint provided in this plan. Infopath will continue to be available to customers using Office 365 Enterprise E3 or Office 365 ProPlus, our Enterprise plans that include the Office desktop applications. One major benefit of the new plans is that they will allow customers who want this technology to move their company (or just specific users) to an Enterprise plan.

      As a reminder, back in January, we announced that Infopath 2013 will be the last release of Infopath, and we will be investing in new forms technology in SharePoint, Access & Word. We will continue to support Infopath through 2023 as part of our lifecycle support policy.

      • Hello Kirk,

        I don’t think the InfoPath question has been answered. We understand that InfoPath 2013 is the last release of InfoPath. The question is, which of the new Office 365 products will include InfoPath 2013? Specifically, Office 365 Midsize Business includes InfoPath 2013. Will its replacement, Business Premium, also include it?

        Thanks in advance for clarifying!


        • @FormotusGlen Infopath will continue to be available in the Enterprise E3 and ProPlus plans. This will not be available in Business Premium or Business.

          • Thanks for the clarification Kirk. Another InfoPath related question for you. A person installing ProPlus today got a message at the bottom of the Activation Required dialog that reads: “On Monday, August 11, 2014, most features of InfoPath will be disabled.” Can you explain what exactly is changing next Monday?

  3. The reference to 2015 in the article may need to be clarified. I think the suggestion was that there would be a renewal that would happen in 2015 but the new plans actually start in October 2014. Reading the article the top seems to suggest 2014 where the bottom appears to suggest 2015. A quick edit may be in order.

    • @MWmcclure: Sorry for the confusion, we will take a look at clarifying the language. To simplify – the new plans launch Oct 1, 2014. Our guidance is that most current customers should move to the new plans at their first renewal after October 1, 2015, 12 months later. With the matching updates for our existing plans, only a small number of customers with very specific needs would realize value from moving plans before October 1, 2015. Moving at renewal will therefore be a much simpler process than going through a mid-subscription switch.

  4. Kirk, will Project Online and Visio Online be available to these SKUs, or still just Enterprise?

    • @steve: Project Online and Visio Online will be available for any of the Business plans, as well as Enterprise.

  5. Krik, our business is currently on the Enteprise plan and cannot utilize the small or midsize business plans, as they were in different families. With the plan changes announced above, will we now be able to use the new “Business”, “Business Essentials” and “Business Premium” plans alongside our enterprise subscriptions?

  6. When you say “full Office applications,” is Access also included? If not, is it like you state under “New Flexibility,” where others like CRM and Visio can be added on? You don’t seem to mention Access anywhere at all.

    • @jp_accetta: You are correct! The Business & Business Premium plans do not include Access. This will continue to be available in our Office 365 ProPlus & Enterprise E3 plan, as it is today. Typically, our research has shown only a few users in an organization use Access. With the added flexibility this update provides to combine plans, you can purchase a license of E3/ProPlus for those users, while keeping the rest of the organization on a more affordable Business/Business Premium plan.

      • I was excited for the plans/pricing change until I saw that Access will not be included in the new plans. We’re looking at purchasing 30 licenses of Office 365 Midsize Business @ $15 per user/month. Just about every user here uses Access.

        Under the new plans, we would have to buy 30 licenses of ProPlus at $12.50 user/month (the same price of the new Business Premium without all the extra features) or E3 at $20 ($23 after 15% price increase) user/month.

        If we bought Office 365 Midsize Business now would we lose Access when we need to renew and choose one of the new plans in the future?

        Would it be possible to make Access available as an add-on like Project/Visio so that customers can take advantage of the new plans/pricing without having to jump from $12.50 to $23 just to add Access?

        • This is exactly the same problem we are facing. I am planning a move into Office 365 for our company of 65 people, all of them use access for our timesheet system (something we are trying to more away from but can’t just yet). Tomorrow I was going to present my plan moving forward which includes O365 Midsize Business. Now I have nothing to present because the extra money will probably make the solution a non starter. This has really screwed us over.

          • I didn’t notice this subscription wouldn’t include until I read your comment. This is a deal killer for us to. Kirk, what do you recommend for those of us in this situation?

          • @Caleb – You mentioned earlier you have many users using the Enterprise plans today, and wanted to mix with the new “Business”, “Business Essentials” and “Business Premium” plans. Users who need Access will need to continue using Enterprise E3, or move to “Business Essentials ($5) + ProPlus ($12) = $17 user/month”. You can move those who do not require access to Access to those “Business” plans.

          • @BrentonS – If you chose to purchase Midsize Business, you would be able to continue to use Access until July, 2016 (which would be your first renewal after Oct 1, 2015). As you mention you are moving away from Access for your timecards, this may give enough time to implement your new solution. If you still have some users on Access after July of 2016, these users would need to move to “Business Essentials ($5) + ProPlus ($12) = $17 user/month” or Enterprise E3 at $20.

        • @Chris – Thanks for your question. You are correct with your analysis, except for the part about pricing going up 15%. We are NOT raising any prices for our SMB customers, for ANY plans. Enterprise E3 will continue to be available for $20/user/mon. If you purchased Midsize Business today, you can continue to use until July, 2016 for all your users. At this time, you can move some users to Business Premium for the lower prices of $12.50 user/month, and the users who need Access would need to move to “Business Essentials ($5) + ProPlus ($12) = $17 user/month” or Enterprise E3 at $20.

          One of the benefits of this update is the added flexibility to combine Business, Enterprise and add-on plans in several ways. We will evaluate your suggestion of making Access an add on.

      • Kirk there were some good questions regarding changes related to Access and Midsize plans. So the Access apps built for SharePoint won’t be available for Midsize users once the plans change? Is the option is to move to E3 @$23/user. Either way, this would represent an increase of between 53% from current rates to 84% with new rates. To be honest, this doesn’t seem like a step forward, but two steps back.

        • @Scooter – see my above responses. We expect many organization to move to Business Premium for all or the majority of their users, now that plan mixing is enabled. This will results in a savings of $2.50 per user. Customers who have users who need Access will be able to use Business Essentials + ProPlus option, which results in a $2 increase for that small subset of users.

          • @Kirk – thank you so much for making this so clear. Sometimes I jump to early conclusions without all of the facts. Now I won’t worry about this, as we really have enough more than enough time to evaluate all of our options. 🙂

  7. Hi Kirk, Business is not the best offer if it’s correct that email has been removed from the plan; the whole premise of Office 365 is a move to The Cloud so moving back to Exchange Server infrastructure is a strange decision. Can someone enlighten me here please?

    • @Roger: Business is a net new offer that wasn’t currently available before. No customers will have email removed from any of their plans. We heard feedback from many customers that they wanted a way to purchase the Office desktop applications as an always up to date service, as a way to get started in the cloud. Some customers are simply not ready to move off their current email as they same time they purchase Office 365, so Business provides those customers an opportunity to get started, and move to a plan with email at a later time, when they are ready.

      • Thanks for this clarification, on discussing this internally we agree that some customers are more than happy to stay where they are. Good luck with the new offerings!

  8. you guys should add a scaled down version of dynamics crm in the sall business packages…similar to how we could use “business contact manager” back in the day

  9. Great news!!! Some of my small customers, 25-40 users, have Enterprise plans because of the Small Business plan limits. Can I change E1/E3 users to the new SMB plans?

    • @Danny: This will be possible (and we are sure you’d make your customers very happy!) A note of caution – it is REALLY important you and your customers understand the exact differences between the plans before you make this move. Enterprise E1/E3 plans include additional capability when compared to Business Essentials/Business Premium. If your customer is using these features and they disappear, that may be difficult for their business. We will be updating our Office 365 service descriptions for the new plans closer to launch to help you understand all of these details.

      The process will be very similar to the Licensing Reassignment process described in this deck. plans in Office 365.aspx

  10. Hello Kirk, do you know if we can run the new plans on a RDS? Mainly we want to run the Office on a RDS.

  11. Kirk, sounds great!
    Will all Office 365 plans Business and Enterprise be on a common plattform and also share a common admin interface?
    Cheers, Klaus

    • @Klaus: Yes, that is right! We are unifying the admin interface for all Office 365 Business and Enterprise plans. We will be sharing more about this at WPC next week. Stay tuned to the blog over the next month to learn more.

  12. I am an IT admin for a small business and these changes look great, especially Active Directory support.

    However, there’s a rather prominent problem with using the desktop applications included in Office 365 Small Business Premium while offline that is still unresolved after 9 months. It has been reported and reproduced on the support forums and has received no further attention by the relevant team since the initial report:

    I would really like to see this fixed above all else, as it is impacting small businesses subscribed to Office 365 and reflects poorly on the level of support provided to small business customers. We really feel like we’re being left in the lurch and that’s not a good customer experience.

  13. This looks great! A couple of questions though:

    1) For new customers looking to start a trial of Office 365 Midsize Business today, would those customers be entitled to change their trial subscription of Midsize Business to Business Premium once August 1st, 2014 rolls around, or will they be locked into the Midsize Business subscription pricing because of their trial subscription choice?

    2) I understand Exchange Online Archiving was available to the Midsize Business plan as an add-on subscription, will that still be available to any of these new plans?

    Looking forward to the changes!

    • @Darius: Glad you like it! Let me clarify this with the below.

      1. Customer starts a trial of Midsize Business today & purchases before Aug 1, they will be paying $15/month and using Midsize Business.
      2. Customer starts a trial of Midsize Business today & purchases after Aug 1, they will be paying $12.5/month (new reduced price) and using Midsize Business. This true of any purchase of Midsize Business between Aug 1 and Oct 1.
      3. A customer who starts a trial on Midsize Business before October 1 and purchases after Oct 1 will only be able to buy Midsize Business, at $12.50/user/month.
      4. The only way to get on Business Premium at launch would be to begin a trial on Oct 1. Or for an existing customers, migrate after Oct 1, 2014. Again, our guidance is for customers to simple continue using Midsize Business and move at their first renewal after Oct 1, 2015.

      As for your second question: Yes – Exchange Online Archiving will be available for Business Essentials and Business Premium. (Business does not include email, so it wouldn’t be possible to add to that plan.)

  14. Will BlackBerry Business Cloud Services (BBCS) be supported on these new SMB SKUs? Thanks!

    • @BaronKas: Yes, BBCS will continue to be supported the same way it is today in the Enterprise E1 and E3 plans.

  15. As others have discussed the version of Office in the new plans does not include all the features of the old midsize business plan. One big downside of this is it probably will have no support for office in Terminal Server (RDS) environments. So anyone currently or looking at using that will have to pay a lot more for the E3 plan. I’m not sure if there is still going to be the issue that changing to an enterprise plan forces you to start from scratch again for your e-mail and settings. The only other option I can see to get around this is to move to the Business Essentials $5 plan if possible and purchase 365 ProPlus subscriptions for a subset of users that need RDS use rights.

  16. Hi Kirk

    Will all the new plans be available for Microsoft Partner to purchase via open licence? If so will this be as of Oct 1.

    Considering that in Oct all plans are interchangeable and can be mixed and matched. In the interim can Midsize be mixed with Exchange Online Plan or Small Business or is this still not allowed?


    • @urfaan: Yes, all 3 new plans will be available October 1, 2014 in the Open programs.

      For your 2nd question – you will be able to mix and match any of the new plans (Business, Business Essentials, Business Premium) with any Enterprise plan or standalone plan (e.g. Exchange Online plan 1, OneDrive for Business, etc). Existing Midsize or Small Business customers will need to move to the new plans before they are able to mix and match plans.

  17. With these changes will SMB customers now be able to create email disclaimers in the portal? As the current requirement for an enterprise package transport rule is very limiting. Adding to signature is not sufficient.

    • @alastairn: Customers using the new plans will have the same capability as what is found in our Enterprise plans, which includes full support for transport rules in the portal.

  18. I am finding the following very confusing, “Starting on October 1, 2014 … Midsize Business customers will see their price be reduced from $15/user/month to $12.50 user/month. As an existing customer, you will realize this price reduction the next time you renew.”

    So, in the case where a client is an existing Midsize Business subscriber not up for renewal until November 2014, will they realize the $12.50 user/month effective 10/1/2014? When they do renew in November 2014, what would be the difference between renewing the Midsize Business plan vs. electing the Business Premium plan? If there is a constraint that they cannot elect the Business Premium plan until 2015, do they pay the $12.50 rate under the Midsize Business plan from 11/2014 – 11/2015?

    How does the scenario play out for the Small Business and Small Business Premium Subscribers who are up for renewal in November of 2014?

    Thank you for the clarification.

    • @LizzieLou: A Midsize Business customer who is renewing November 2014 will see the updated price starting in November 2014. All Midsize Business customers will see the new $12.50 user/month pricing at their next renewal date.

      We will reach out to each customer directly, starting September 2014, with exact details explaining the differences between their current plan and the new plans and how & when they can move. For most customers, this will begin on October 1, 2014. If a customer is unable to move immediately, they will be able to continue using Midsize Business as they do today (add seats, receive updates, etc) at the lower $12.50 price.

      Small Business & Small Business Premium customers plans will continue at their current prices. On October 1, 2014, all customers will see their seat cap raise to 300 users. This happens immediately and is not tied to renewal timelines.

  19. I’ve been reading up on office 360 for awhile now and I like a lot of the features of it, so I’m going to try and push the company I work for in this direction (the 1TB of OneDrive storage is outstanding, btw). My question is, if I where to sign up now for the “Small Business Premium”, on October 1st, could I change it over to the “Business” plan?

  20. We have an Exchange Online (Plan 1) subscription that renews August 27, 2014. We want to move to the new Business Essentials Plan. When will we be able to do this?

  21. Hi Kirk

    Will Business Essentials and Business Premium subscriptions be eligible to increase SharePoint online storage just as the present plans they will be replacing are.

  22. Hey Kirk, will the Business Essentials plan include Sharepoint Websites?

  23. Hey Kirk, do you plan on answering any more questions? Does anybody else know where I can get answers to questions to questions regarding these plan changes?

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