Office 365 or Microsoft 365: which one should I use?

There’s no denying the importance of Office 365 as a powerful set of tools for running your day-to-day office. 

Or is it Microsoft 365?

Office365 Microsoft365

If you’ve been wondering what’s the difference between Office 365 and Microsoft 365 and which one to use, you’re not alone. If you’re an IT decision maker wanting to use Office 365 (O365) or Microsoft 365 (M365)  or if you’re using one option and want to understand which is best for you, we’ll take you through the differences.

In a nutshell, M365 plans have extra security and device management capabilities compared to their equivalent O365 plans. You can mix and match O365 and M365 plans and swap users from one to the other. So it all boils down to the capabilities you need. 

For peace of mind that you won’t pay more than you need to, get in touch for a free, no-obligation chat. We are Microsoft gold partners and our certified M365 technical consultants will help you choose the right licensing options for your business.

Let's find the best plan for you

Making sense of O365 and M365 

Launched in 2011 and 2017 respectively, O365 and M365 run alongside each other and by April 2020, most O365 plans had been renamed under M365 plans. For example, O365 Business Premium is now called M365 Business Standard. To keep us on our toes, there’s an exception to this with the O365 Enterprise plans, which have kept their name.

So when comparing O365 to M365 plans, it’s only with Enterprise that you need to choose between the two plans, which are typically for larger organisations. The M365 Business range of plans (typically M365 Business Standard or M365 Business Premium) is well-suited to small and medium-sized businesses respectively. 

When it was first launched in 2017, there was a clear distinction between the M365 plans and the O365 plans. M365 plans offered everything that its equivalent O365 plans contained, plus more extensive device management and security features for an additional fee.

A business with a traditional on-premise infrastructure (such as a network with a Domain Controller, Active Directory and Domain-joined Windows PC controlled by Group Policy) would buy an O365 plan to give them Exchange Online, SharePoint, Teams and Office licensing.

M365 additional capabilities

On the other hand, “cloud first” businesses that didn’t rely on an on-premise infrastructure and needed their full capability to be cloud based, would buy an M365 plan. In addition to the above-listed services for O365, the plan included a number of other capabilities. For example they’d use Azure AD in conjunction with Microsoft Intune, which is included in the M365 plan to secure and manage their devices. Find out more in our blog post, What’s the difference between AD vs Azure AD?

Businesses like this may also use Azure Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) for a remote desktop or remote app solution. The licensing needed for some components of WVD are included in M365 Business Premium, as explained in our quick guide, What is Azure Windows Virtual Desktop?

Comparing O365 and M365 

With the renaming of the O365 Business plans to M365 plans in 2020, the line between the two O365 and M365 plans has been blurred. The idea is that you can mix and match to choose whichever plan and capabilities best suit you.

Business versus Enterprise plans

Business plans are cheaper than their equivalent Enterprise plans with a cap at 300 seats per plan. Larger and more complex organisations tend to need Enterprise plans with more capabilities, which makes the additional cost worthwhile.

Microsoft’s mix and match approach means that if you need 400 seats, for example,  and the Business version has all the capabilities you need, you can buy 300 of the Business plan and top up the extra 100 using the Enterprise version of that plan.

Mix, match or change plans

In your O365 tenant you can have a mix of all these different types of plan:

  • M365 Business
  • O365 Enterprise
  • M365 Enterprise

You can also change a user’s license from one type to another as you need. If your new plan has additional capabilities, users gain access to these services when the license is assigned. On the other hand, if your new plan has less capabilities, users will lose access to any services not in the new plan once it has been assigned.

Add-on capabilities

There are a number of add-on capabilities that can be used with your O365 or M365 plans including:

Keeping up to date with Microsoft licensing can seem complex and time consuming as Microsoft releases new O365 plans several times a year. Get in touch for a free discussion with one of our certified M365 technical consultants to discuss the right O365 or M365 licensing options for your business. 

Let's Talk

    Enter your details below and we'll be in touch soon:

    Want to keep in touch?

    If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog, then sign up to receive our monthly newsletter where we share new blogs, technical updates, product news, case studies, company updates, Microsoft and Cloud news.

    We promise that we won’t share your email address with other business or parties, and will keep your details safe. You can choose to unsubscribe at any time.


    f Back to Blog posts

    Interested in finding out more?

    Contact Us FAQs