Microsoft to refresh Office 365 plans for SMBs from 1 October

Office Excel app on iPad image

Microsoft has detailed upcoming changes to its Office 365 cloud-based productivity suite that will eventually replace its offerings for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with updated plans offering greater choice and flexibility, the firm said.

The new plans will be released on 1 October and have been tailored to meet the needs of companies with up to about 250 employees, Microsoft said. These will eventually replace the current Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business plans.

However, as Microsoft’s policy is to provide 12 months’ notice of changes to a customer’s core subscription, customers currently using these will only be affected at their first renewal after 1¬†October 2015.

As disclosed on Microsoft’s Office blog, the new plans are called Business, Business Essentials and Business Premium. These offer a mix of capabilities, depending upon the customer’s requirements, Microsoft said.

Kirk Gregersen, general manager for Microsoft’s Office Marketing Group, wrote on the blog:¬†“This new line-up reflects the feedback we’ve received from SMB customers about how they want to get started and grow with Office 365.”

The Business plan focuses on the familiar desktop Office applications; Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Publisher, along with 1TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage and the Office applications for Apple’s iPad tablet.

Meanwhile, the Business Essentials plan offers largely just the core cloud-based services, such as email and videoconferencing, plus the web-based Office apps and OneDrive for Business.

The third plan, Business Premium, offers the complete set of capabilities, effectively both of the other two plans combined.

US per-month pricing for the new plans will be $8.25 for Business, $5 for Business Essentials and $12.50 for Business Premium. Pricing for other regions has yet to be set.

Microsoft also announced that from 1 October, customers on the existing Small Business and Small Business Premium plans will see their seat limit raised from 25 users to 300. Customers on the Midsize Business plan, whose seat cap is already 300, will now see their monthly subscription price reduced from $15 per user to $12.50 per user.

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