Selecting the right Microsoft 365 cloud subscription is a very important decision to make for your organization’s employees, security, budget, and productivity. With so many versions available, it can be hard to make the right choice at the beginning of your Microsoft 365 journey, so in this blog we will help you to better understand all about Microsoft 365 Business Premium, Microsoft 365 E3, and the corresponding Office 365 subscriptions available to purchase from Microsoft.

For my customers, these three subscriptions are the ones that most organizations inquire about when they are looking for compliance, security, device management and identity features on top of the normal collaboration features, so in this blog I have gone and done an analysis of many of the included important features, apps/services, pricing, along with some recommendations.  Before we dive in, let’s go through each platform individually so that you can better understand all the functionality and capabilities of each platform. 

What is Office 365 E3? 

The Office 365 E3 subscription includes compliance capabilities with a cloud-based suite of productivity services and apps also including information protection. When it comes to extensive data handling and analysis, Office 365 E3 has the power to read big data sets by using advanced features such as Power Query, Power Pivot, and, Power View. This platform also enables the connection to on-premise Exchange and SharePoint servers, or the use of cloud-connected services.

What is Microsoft Business Premium? 

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is a more full featured subscription focused on small to medium size businesses that don’t need enterprise and compliance based scenarios that Office 365 E3 gives them. It gives organizations the ability to stay up to date with the latest versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and more by bringing together powerful clouds services and best-in-class Office apps with strong security to help protect your company from harmful cyber threats.  

What is Microsoft 365 E3? 

Microsoft 365 E3 includes the best of both Office 365 and Microsoft Business Premium top tier productivity apps which contains core security and compliance capabilities. This platform will transform the way you manage your business and increase your customer relationship with integrated workflows.  

What is Office 365 Business Premium (now called Microsoft 365 Business Standard)?  

Office 365 Business Premium (now called Microsoft 365 Business Standard) will allow your employees to easily collaborate through email, online file sharing, HD video conferencing, team sites, instant messages and more! These applications will work across a range of devices including Mac, PC, smartphones, and tablets while running across different OS systems like Android, Apple, and Windows. 

What does the pricing look like?

Office 365 E3 costs USD $23.00 or CAD $30.60 user/month with annual commitment. 

Microsoft 365 Business Premium costs USD $22.00 or CAD $28.20 user/month with annual commitment. 

Microsoft 365 E3 costs USD $36.00 or CAD $47.90 user/month with annual commitment. 

Office 365 Business Premium (now called Microsoft 365 Business Standard) costs USD $12.50 or CAD $16.00 user/month with annual commitment.  

Unique Features 

Each platform includes a variety of apps and services that would increase the productivity, communication, and teamwork amongst employees.  

As mentioned above, Office 365 E3 includes advanced Excel functionality that will help your business analyze big data sets.   

Microsoft Business Premium contains handy services such as Intune, Defender, Azure Protection, and Conditional Access which keep your devices/data organized and secure.  

A key feature in Microsoft 365 E3 is the Stream App which is great place to upload and stream live videos to share across your company while ensuring high-quality playback.  

Office 365 Business Premium allows users to connect via cloud services which is a great feature if you plan on moving towards hosting your solution (Azure or AWS), or if you want to deploy on both the cloud and an on-premise solution. 

Comparison Chart 

Service area Feature Office 365 Business Premium (Microsoft 365 Business Standard)Office 365 E3 Microsoft 365 Business Premium Microsoft 365 E3
Licenses available Maximum number of users 300 Unlimited 300 Unlimited 
Office apps Install Office on up to 5 PCs/Macs + 5 tablets + 5 smartphones per user (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access), Office Online Business ProPlus Business ProPlus 
Email & calendar Outlook, Exchange Online 50 GB100 GB 50 GB 100 GB
Hub for teamwork Chat-based workspace, online meetings, and more in Microsoft Teams Yes Yes Yes Yes 
File storage OneDrive for Business Unlimited Unlimited 1 TB per user 1 TB per user 
Social, video, sites Stream, Yammer, Planner, SharePoint Online1, PowerApps1, Power Automate1 Yes Yes Yes Yes 
Business apps Scheduling apps – Bookings2 Yes Yes Yes Yes 
 Business apps – MileIQ2 Yes No Yes Yes 
Threat protection Microsoft Defender for Office 365 No No Yes Yes 
 Windows Exploit Guard enforcement No  No Yes Yes 
Identity management Self-service password reset for hybrid Azure Active Directory accounts No No Yes Yes 
 Azure Multi-Factor Authentication, conditional access policies No No Yes Yes 
Device & app management Microsoft Intune, Windows AutoPilot, Windows Pro management No  No Yes Yes 
 Shared computer activation No Yes Yes Yes 
 Upgrade rights to Windows 10 Pro for Win 7/8.1 Pro No No Yes Yes 
 Windows Virtual Desktop No No Yes No 
Information protection Microsoft data loss prevention No Yes Yes Yes 
 Azure Information Protection Plan 1, BitLocker enforcement No No Yes Yes 
On-premises CAL rights ECAL Suite (Exchange, SharePoint, Skype) No Yes No Yes 
Compliance Unlimited email archiving3 No Yes Yes Yes 

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Which subscription is right for your business? 

While each platform offers a great deal of value that would help scale up your business there are some key differences that will help you to choose the right one for your employees.  

The Office 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E3 are both great platforms for larger companies with 300 or more users. The big companies interested in business intelligence and analytics tools would be very satisfied with Office 365 E3 while companies who are interested in just the core Microsoft applications also including the Stream app should most likely go with the Microsoft 365 E3 license. 

Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Office 365 Business premium are ideally suited for smaller to medium sized companies with less than 300 users. If you are interested in strong security and compliance features that will help keep all your devices safe, Microsoft 365 Business Premium would be a great choice for you. Office 365 Business Premium would be very attractive if you wish to deploy your solution either in Azure or AWS through the cloud services or on-premise. 

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