Office client apps in Office 365 plans – are they all the same?

 

During discussions with our clients regarding Office 365 plans, I realized that most of the people are not aware of differences in Office client apps that comes with different Office 365 plans. Instead, most people think that all Office 365 plans, that include Office client apps, actually contain same Office client applications (Word, Excel, Outlook,…). For example, Office 365 E3 contains Office client apps as well as Office 365 Business Premium. However, these are not the same (although very similar) Office client apps. This misunderstanding can sometimes lead to wrong licensing decisions and/or missing functionalities. And that’s the reason I’m writing this post.

So, if you decided to license your Office client applications through Office 365 (instead of buying standalone Office package), you should know that we are basically talking about two, very similar but still different, licensing options – Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Business. Both can be purchased separately, or as a part of some Office 365 plans.

Office 365 Business is also integrated in Office 365 Business Premium. Similarly, Office 365 ProPlus is integrated in Office 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 license plans.

Although Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Business provide very similar functionalities and features, they are not the same product. Users tend to think that Office applications provided in the Office 365 ProPlus package are exactly the same, as the Office applications in Office 365 Business; this is because both versions are installed in a same way and provide almost the same user experience.

Both Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Business provide Office client apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, and Skype for Business. Also, in both versions, you can use these apps on up to five devices per user, and in both versions you have the ability to get Office updates as long as you have valid license.

However, there are number of differences between Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Business.

The most important differences are:

• Office 365 Business can be deployed on up to 300 users per organization, while Office 365 ProPlus does not have such a limitation.

• Office 365 ProPlus provides Microsoft Skype for Business application while Office 365 Business does not.

• Office 365 ProPlus allows you to run Office client apps in virtual desktop scenario, while Office 365 Business does not allow this.

• Office 365 ProPlus supports features for archiving and compliance such as Exchange Online and SharePoint Online Archiving and Compliance, while Office 365 Business does not. Besides, you can integrate Office client apps from Office 365 ProPlus with Azure Information Protection. Client applications from Office 365 Business does not fully support integration with Azure Information Protection.

• Office 365 ProPlus supports Group Policy–based deployment configuration. This is not possible with Office 365 Business.

• Office 365 ProPlus provides InfoPath Designer application while Office 365 Business does not. Also, Power Query, Power Pivot and Power View are not supported in Office 365 Business.

As you can see, most of differences are not visible to the end user, but admins should be aware of these differences – especially in medium sized companies that usually go with Office 365 Business Premium as their choice. And yes, this is usually good choice for small and mid-sized companies unless you need some functionality that is available only in Office 365 ProPlus and not in Office 365 Business. For example, if you are running a 100 users company and plan to go with Office 365, you’ll probably think about Office 365 Business Premium. However, if you go this way, and later decide that you want to deploy Azure Information Protection to your clients and have it integrated in Office apps – you will not be able to do that. If you run into this scenario (or already have it) you will need to buy your users Office 365 ProPlus or E3 license.

Author: ddamir

Damir Dizdarevic is a b.sc.math and IT professional. He works as a manager of MS CPLS Learning Center in Logosoft Sarajevo, and as a lecturer and author of MOC courses. Occasionally, he also works as a system designer for complex enterprise environments. He is a founding member and president of Bosnian Microsoft Community. He has been working with Microsoft platforms for the last 17 years and he is particularly specialized in Windows Server, Exchange Server, mobility and virtualization. Microsoft awarded him with the Most Valuable Professional – MVP status for his outstanding contribution in sharing knowledge about Microsoft Server products, large number of lectures he delivered, and for his high technical competence. Damir owns several technical certificates (MCSE, MCTS, MCITP, and MCT) for Windows Server 2012, 2008 R2, Exchange Server 2010, Security and Hyper-V. He is regular presenter on conferences in ex-Yu region. On Microsoft Sinergija conference, for previous 7 years, each time he was graded as one of top three speakers. On a Bosnian MS conference, he is the best speaker for last two years. He is also a regular and highly graded presenter on other Microsoft conferences in region such as NT Conference (Slovenia), Microsoft Vizija (Macedonia), Microsoft Windays (Croatia), MS Technet, Mobility Day, KulenDayz etc. Damir is one of very few trainers in Europe who works as an author and reviewer of official MOC courses. In previous year, he was authoring courses 20417 (Upgrading Skills to Windows Server 2012), 20414 (Implementing an Advanced Server Infrastructure), 20412( Configuring Advanced Windows Server 2012 Services) and 20410 (Installing and Configuring Windows Server 2012). Also, he was authoring System Center 2012 courses and currently he is working on Exchange Server 2013 and Windows Server 2012 R2 courses. In addition, he has been working for 16 years now as one of the editors of BiH IT magazine INFO, where he published more than 300 technical articles, and he is also writing for the famous Windows ITPro Magazine (some of his work can be found at: http://windowsitpro.com/author/damir-dizdarevic).

One thought on “Office client apps in Office 365 plans – are they all the same?”

  1. Great

    Thanks for explaining this role and rules.
    Now, my environment plan to upgrade from 60 to 100 users
    Our plan is Office 365 E3, but not for business, just pro plus.
    Really i need think about this difference because my users grow and Office365 is great business resources for our company.
    Thanks for explaining this, great text and useful.

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