Office 365 small business subscription pricing

The initial Office 365 pricing is very enticing … maybe suspiciously so.

Microsoft has released their pricing for Office 365 Small Business subscription plans.

These are plans which give you, at minimum, hosted email with all the benefits of Exchange Server connectivity. At the ‘high’ end you get hosted email, a publicly hosted web site, Office Web Apps and Mobile Apps and Office software (currently Office 2013 or Office 2011 for Mac).

Office 365 Small Business Premium

Small Business Premium is the main product Microsoft is pushing.   Targeted at small businesses with one to ten staff. For US$150 in the first year each user in an organization gets:

  • The latest Office software available at that time. At the moment that’s Office 2013 or Office 2011 for Mac.

  • For Windows users that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, OneNote, Publisher and Lync communications.

  • Each user get FIVE software licenses that can be moved between computers. It’s the same arrangement as the Office 365 Home licenses. Each user can install Office software on up to 5 devices (Windows, Mac or soon mobile) at any one time. So a staff member could install Office software on their work and home computer plus a laptop.

  • There’s also Office on Demand where Office 2013 can be temporarily installed on a computer and Office Web Apps to view or edit documents from any browser.

  • A 25GB hosted email account. 25GB should be enough for most people. The Exchange Server accounts connect to your Outlook software, most mobile apps (including Apple and Android) or you can use any browser with Outlook Web Access.

A ‘team site’ where you can save documents for common access by all staff. There’s 10GB of ‘base’ storage plus 500MB extra per user.

There’s also public facing web site hosting included though the web services available are fairly basic compared to most web hosts.

Traps for the unwary

For $150 per user that’s a good deal, as you might expect there’s traps for the unwary. These include:

  • The setup isn’t straightforward. Most likely you’ll use your own domain name so that your emails and the public web site aren’t obviously hosted by Microsoft. That means migrating your existing email setup and email data to Office 365.

  • The $150 price is for the first year only. Microsoft makes no promises for future pricing. The price might increase and services offered decrease.

  • Leaving Office 365 isn’t easy. You can cancel the subscription if the changed pricing or services don’t suit you. According to Microsoft, customer data is preserved for 90 days.
    But copying the information from the online storage and Exchange Server accounts AND setting up alternatives – that’s all time, effort and money consuming.

Microsoft is counting on people and organizations becoming so entwined with their online services that they keep renewing rather than face the pain of moving to another service.

Other plans

There’s a $60 per year plan that doesn’t have an Office software subscription but is otherwise the same as the Small Business Premium option. You’d be expected to use Office Web Apps to edit documents or use existing Office software.

The $4 per month plan has hosted email only with 25GB of storage. A compelling and keenly priced offering if you’re looking for good email hosting that’s accessible from pretty much any device you can think of.  A pity there’s no annual discount pricing as the other plans offer — perhaps $40 a year?

There are Mid-Size and Enterprise plans for larger businesses with a similar split between the low cost options without Office software and the more expensive ones with a ‘five license per user’ software subscription.

These Small Business plans are available globally in what Microsoft calls “69 markets and 17 languages” more markets and languages coming before the mid-2013.

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