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Microsoft introduces updates and new subscription plans to Office 365 for business

Microsoft has unveiled several new versions of its subscription-based Office 365 suite for businesses, and upgraded existing plans.

The revamped Office 365 for business includes updates to Microsoft Lync, Exchange, and SharePoint Online. Users can authorize their 365 accounts on up to five devices, and access services like Microsoft's recently acquired Yammer. By June, Microsoft promised Lync-Skype connectivity for presence, IM, and voice.

"With Office 365, everyone from large enterprises to small businesses to individual consumers can now benefit from the power of Office and the connectivity of the cloud," Microsoft Office Division President Kurt DelBene said in a statement. "This release unlocks new scenarios and delivers capabilities that far surpass anything available in browser-only solutions."

The release also includes three new options for businesses.

  • Office 365 ProPlus: This is a standalone Office 365 option . Subscribers get the full Office suite - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, InfoPath and Access - accessible by each user on up to five devices. IT departments can run ProPlus alongside other versions of Office.
  • Office 365 Midsize Business: This is intended for medium-sized businesses with 10 to 250 employees. Account holders get all the benefits of Office 365 ProPlus, as well as Exchange Online, Lync Online, and SharePoint Online. There's also Active Directory integration, a Web-based administration console, and business-hours phone support.
  • Office 365 Small Business Premium: This is aimed at small businesses with 10 employees or less and. It includes Office apps, email, shared calendars, website tools, and HD videoconferencing in a format that does not require IT expertise.

The release means the subscription-based Office 365 is now available for businesses, academic institutions, and consumers. The consumer version made its debut in January. The service includes all the Office apps - Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access - and can be installed on up to five devices, from the Surface tablet to your laptop. There's also 20GB of SkyDrive cloud storage and 60 free minutes of Skype calling minutes.