Microsoft unveils price increase for new Office 365 Enterprise package

Microsoft has launched a new premium Office 365 package for its enterprise customers, accompanied by a significant price increase.

Office 365 Enterprise E5 replaces Enterprise E4, which will be dropped by June 2016, and will cost £261.60 annually per user, compared to £193.20 for its predecessor.

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Although the new Office 365 package does contain a number of new features, response to the price hike has been mixed, particularly as Enterprise E4 was not received particularly well by customers. Microsoft will be hoping that additions like Skype for Business integration, Advanced Threat Protection and Power BI Pro will be enough to entice enterprise firms to pay the higher price tag.

Criticism has centred on the optional PSTN calling plan, which businesses can subscribe to if they are using cloud-based PBX systems. Enterprises must pay an additional $24 per month for unlimited domestic and international calls, which is a significantly higher price than that charged to ordinary consumers. The business premium may be used to cover the extra centralised control required by enterprise firms, but many have still claimed that the cost is not good value for money.

However, Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice-president for Microsoft Office, believes that the innovations introduced to Enterprise E5, in partnership with telcos and other collaborators, will prove worthwhile additions.

“As we release these new capabilities in Office 365, partners will play an integral role in extending the value of our new services,” he said. “At the forefront are our global systems integrator partners, who have the highest level of experience in delivering communications solutions end-to-end.”

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For businesses that are currently using Office 365 Enterprise E4, they will have to decide whether the new cost is worthwhile or whether they would be better suited dropping down to the less expensive Enterprise E3 package.