Microsoft 365 business buying guide for SMB: which version to buy?

  • Monday, 10th July, 2023
  • 15:52pm

When and how was Microsoft 365 born?

First, let's clarify a bit. In April 2020, Microsoft Corporation officially rebranded Office 365 to Microsoft 365.

Going back: the first version of Office was born in 1989, announced by Bill Gates in Las Vegas.

Office is a suite of productivity software. It includes a set of desktop and online applications that allow users to create, edit and manage documents, spreadsheets, views, emails, calendars, notes and more. The first version only included Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Later in the article we will go into detail about each application.

Office in 2013 also became available in a cloud version, then called Office 365. This is sold as a subscription service, unlike the original version which is purchased with a permanent one-time license. This means that Office is hardware bound and needs a copy of the package for each device. Instead, Microsoft 365 (from now on we won't talk about Office 365 anymore) binds to the user, allowing installation on multiple devices, even simultaneously. This allows users to always benefit from the latest versions of and access their documents and data from any device.

What has changed after the rebranding?

Since 2020, in addition to the original version of the productivity suite, with the new Microsoft 365 the subscription plans have been updated and new features introduced.

Subscriptions are split into 4 broad options based on who is the buyer:

• Personal and for the family

• Instruction

• Companies

• Big business

In this article we focus in particular on the way on the third type, designed specifically for SMEs, which is identified with the name of Microsoft 365 business. In turn, this is divided into 4 subscriptions that can be renewed on a monthly or yearly basis according to the company's needs.

What do Microsoft 365 business plans include?

We must consider Microsoft 365 business a real business collaboration environment that allows a drastic increase in productivity and management of the entire IT system. The main components that you find in every piano are the following:

WORD: Process text with a wide range of formatting tools, create structured documents, such as letters, articles and reports, add images, tables, charts and other visual elements.

EXCEL: Create spreadsheets with cells organized in rows and columns. Each cell can contain numeric, textual data or formulas that perform calculations and data manipulations, simplifying them.

POWERPOINT: Create slides containing text, images, graphics, animations and other visual elements to communicate effectively and engaging during presentations, conferences or meetings.

OUTLOOK: send, receive and manage e-mail, organize your calendar, contacts and tasks, allowing efficient management of personal and professional communications.

ONEDRIVE: Store, sync and share files and documents online. It offers storage accessible from any device, allowing you to access your files from anywhere and share them with other people easily and securely. The minimum space offered is 1TB per user.


This is the simplest plan and has the suite just illustrated in full desktop and web version with the exception of Outlook. This means that you can install the apps directly on your computer and you can also use them in offline mode.

In addition, it has two more available only for PC. These, in fact, were originally developed and made available only for the Windows operating system.

ACCESS: Build database business apps without developer intervention, based on templates or from scratch. It is often used to manage significant amounts of structured information, such as inventory data, customer information, financial reports, etc.

PUBLISHER: Offers a number of tools and features that simplify the creation of design documents. These can be professional documents such as brochures, flyers, leaflets, newsletters and business cards. It's especially useful if you want to create marketing materials.


The Basic plan, unlike the previous one, offers the basic Office suite only in web and mobile mode. This means that you can access from any device connected to the Internet through any browser. Does not include Access and Publisher, but does include:

TEAMS: Chat, make audio/video calls, organize virtual meetings and share files in one integrated interface, facilitating communication and collaboration between members of a team or organization, up to 300 participants.

EXCHANGE: Eliminates the need for businesses to manage and maintain their on-premise email servers, it's a cloud-based mail server. It can be accessed through different email clients such as Microsoft Outlook. It also offers advanced security and data protection features, such as spam filtering, message encryption, and malware protection.

SHAREPOINT: Create internal websites, allowing people within an organization to share, structure and manage documents with real-time collaboration. All you need is just a device and a web browser.


It is a very popular subscription among users. It offers all the features seen in Business Basic with the addition of Access and Publisher (for PC only). Furthermore, the applications are available in all versions: web, desktop and for mobile devices. Includes regular updates and access to advanced security and data management features. That's why it's a popular choice for many organizations and individual users.


We end with the latest subscription, certainly the most complete, which offers advanced features for more structured needs. In fact, it offers all the Business Standard components with greater protection against cyber threats, which are not to be underestimated nowadays.

In addition to all the apps seen so far, in this plan we also find Intune and Azure that allow you to protect sensitive corporate information on all devices in the organization. They can also enable data encryption, apply access restrictions, allow remote locking or data deletion if the device is lost or stolen. They allow you to implement multi-factor authentication for additional security and simplify the management of employee credentials.

Utixo's advice

As direct Microsoft CPS (Cloud Solution Provider) partners, we provide Microsoft 365 solutions by adding consultancy, training, support and integration with the other cloud products used by the company. The choice of Microsoft 365 business subscription depends on the specific needs of the company and its users (if there are more than 300, then you need to upgrade to plans for large enterprises). You should carefully compare the available options to determine which plan is best suited to your needs. If you are in difficulty or want to discuss with one of our consultants, do not hesitate to write to us, we will be happy to offer you support.

However, we can say from our experience that a relevant factor to consider while purchasing a Business plan is the use of the apps in web or desktop mode.

o If you prefer a lightweight and flexible experience, web-based usage may be for you. This mode is particularly useful if you work from different devices or if you need to share and collaborate on documents in real time with colleagues or clients. Business Basic might be the best option.

o If you need advanced features, greater flexibility in processing files and the ability to work offline, using the desktop may be the best choice. In this case, you might want to consider the Apps for Business plan.

o Finally, the Business Standard hybrid option allows you to start working on a document via the desktop application, save it to the cloud and then access and edit it via the web version if needed.

Each option has its advantages and disadvantages, so weigh your needs and preferences carefully to determine which Microsoft 365 plan is right for you.

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