How to choose the right Microsoft 365 for Business plan

Microsoft’s business plans are aimed in particular at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Microsoft business plans are called Business Basic, Apps for Business, Business Standard and Business Premium. Included in all four business plans are Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneDrive applications.

All information in this article is correct as of August 2023.

Microsoft business plans vs. Office home plans

The difference between Office plans for individuals and those for SMBs is what you get with them. For the the private sector, Microsoft offers plans that include the usual programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint. For companies, the plans include additional or business-optimized services that simplify collaborative work processes.

Microsoft 365 small business plans offer you familiar and trusted Microsoft applications as an online app or installable component. Microsoft also grants you access to useful tools and programs that primarily help you to develop, manage and advance collaborative projects as well as facilitate internal and external communication.

What are the 4 Microsoft business plans?

Microsoft 365 is available for small and medium-sized businesses in four different plans for up to 300 people:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for Business
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium

All of the small business solutions require you to sign up for a subscription, and you can choose between the slightly more expensive monthly subscription and an annual subscription. You pay for the former on a monthly basis, and you can cancel it at any time without incurring any additional costs. On the other hand, early cancellation of the annual subscription, which can be paid both monthly and annually, usually results in additional costs. You will not receive a refund for payments already made for annual subscriptions.


There are special solutions such as Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise for businesses with over 300 employees. Exchange Online Plan 1 offers a professional email server solution with Outlook support.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic

The essentials in a nutshell

Among Microsoft business plans, Business Basic is the ideal office suite for any company whose employees travel extensively or work from home but need access to project files and emails at all times. The plan provides your company’s data with a secure storage platform and your employees with access to the most important Office applications via their browser. In addition, communication features such as shared inboxes, web conferences or team websites facilitate project collaboration.

Costs: $6.00 (per user per month) with an annual subscription or $7.20 (per user per month) with a monthly subscription.

Business Basic in detail

Business Basic is the most affordable model for small and medium-sized businesses. It gives you access to the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote via any standard web browser.

All employees can work on files from the above programs in real time at any time and from anywhere as long as they have internet access. Files created with the online programs are compatible with the latest versions of the desktop applications, so you can send your own documents or open and edit external documents.

However, the focus of the Business Basic plan is to help you and your company communicate and collaborate. To that end, the plan includes useful online services, which is where Exchange really stands out. Protected from viruses, spam and phishing attacks, the email system provides a central hosting platform for your company’s entire email traffic. Access messages at any time from any device via the Outlook Web app.

What’s more, every user gets an inbox with 50 GB of storage space, as well as the ability to send attachments up to 150 MB in size. If you also purchase an installable Outlook version, you can retrieve your mails as usual via the client application interface. You can set up shared inboxes and calendars too.


Get Microsoft 365 Business Basic from IONOS and benefit from all the features that come with it.

The other services of Microsoft 365 Business Basic at a glance:

Skype for Business

With the help of the business version of the well-known video conferencing software Skype, you can communicate comfortably by voice, chat or video – internally or with business partners. With Outlook integration, schedule your online meetings in advance and send personalized links for participation. Hold video conferences with up to 250 participants and up to HD 1080p quality. If you want to use Skype for Business, you need to download it from the Microsoft 365 portal beforehand.

OneDrive for Business

Microsoft’s secure cloud storage OneDrive is the perfect solution to store and manage your company’s data. Create custom directory structures and specify which people can view, create or edit files. All files are available online, can be accessed from anywhere and with any device, and are always up to date thanks to synchronization. In Business Basic, 1 TB of storage space is available per person.


In addition to the Google Drive alternative OneDrive, you can use the SharePoint application. Create team websites, which – simply put – are folders where you can store files of a specific project. All users involved can access the team documents and share files, info, etc. with each other.


With Sway, Microsoft offers you an application that lets you easily create a presentation of your latest products, an informative newsletter or an online training. Interactive and web-based, the created “Sways” can be easily shared and displayed on various display sizes.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business

The essentials in a nutshell

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business is the right choice if you’re happy with the digital information and work structure within your company but are looking for a feature-rich and versatile office suite. This Microsoft business plan, unlike the other Business offerings, only offers OneDrive by itself and does not include SharePoint. The plan also assumes you already run an email server and rely on your own communications software, as Exchange is also not available. In return, however, you get access to the desktop versions of the Office apps, including Premium features, as well as the handy Access and Publisher apps when you sign up for a subscription.

Costs: $8.25 (per user per month) with an annual subscription or $9.90 (per user per month) with a monthly subscription.

Apps for Business in detail

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business also allows you to use the online applications of Word, OneNote, PowerPoint and Excel via a browser or mobile app (iOS and Android). Users can install the suite on up to five Windows or macOS devices, as well as five mobile devices and five tablets, for a maximum of fifteen devices.

Since Apps for Business has a link to the OneDrive for Business cloud, it is possible to share and collaborate on all files in real time. If you have been working offline, the cloud service will synchronize your documents as soon as you have an internet connection again. Microsoft also provides 1 TB of OneDrive storage per person in this business plan.

While the Sway presentation tool is also part of Apps for Business, Skype for Business and SharePoint team websites are not included. So, when it comes to project and corporate communications, it’s a matter of setting up alternative solutions. The Exchange mail hosting environment is also not included in Microsoft 365 Apps for Business. You therefore need your own mail server solution for email communication and archiving.

Microsoft 365 Business Standard

The essentials in a nutshell

Microsoft’s Business Standard plan is the right choice for users who want to use the Apps for Business features, but also need email hosting in the form of the Exchange application. Business Standard offers you the usual Office programs like Word, Excel and Powerpoint, but also scores points with practical tools such as Teams and SharePoint, which optimize collaboration.

Costs: $12.50 (per user per month) with an annual subscription or $15.00 (per user per month) with a monthly subscription.

Business Standard in detail

With the Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan, you get all the apps and services from Business Basic, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneDrive. Just as with Apps for Business, the desktop versions of the apps are available here, including premium features.

Other applications in Business Standard are Access and Publisher, but these can only be used via a PC. Access allows you to create and manage databases, while Publisher is used, for example, to design layouts for print publications and contains numerous templates.

You can promote your teamwork in Business Standard with the help of the Teams application, which enables online meetings with up to 300 people. Unlike Business Basic and Apps for Business, the Business Standard version gives you the option of holding webinars, which users can register for.

Finally, benefit from email hosting thanks to Microsoft’s cloud solution Exchange. The application gives you access to an inbox with 50 GB of storage and a personal calendar for professional scheduling.


You can get Microsoft 365 Business Standard from IONOS at an affordable price. This plan comes with many features for effective collaboration with your team.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium

The essentials in a nutshell

With the Microsoft 365 Business Premium plan, you acquire the all-in-one solution for your company’s everyday office life, which not only presents a cross-company email solution (including calendar and 50 GB of storage per person), but also offers more security as well as protection against ransomware and other cyber threats.

Costs: $22.00 (per user per month) with an annual subscription or $26.40 (per user per month) with a monthly subscription

Business Premium in detail

Microsoft 365 Business Premium includes all the features of Business Standard. This means that the plan includes both the latest Microsoft Office products (online and desktop version) and access to the powerful communication platforms Exchange and Teams.

Business Premium offers you all the tools you need as a modern small business for structuring and collaborating on projects in one place. You are not dependent on additional hardware or software to operate an email server or a file server.

Unlike the other Microsoft business plans, the Exchange application gives you an additional archiving option that lets you customize policies around cloud archiving, for example. Your email hosting inbox includes 50 GB, as with the other plans.

Another benefit that sets Business Premium apart from the rest of the Microsoft business plans is Advanced Threat Protection. With various protections like Defender, App Protection, and Information Rights Management, your company’s devices and data are secure.

Microsoft 365 for Business with IONOS!

Powerful Exchange email and the latest versions of your favorite Office apps on any device - get started with our free setup assistance.

  • 50 GB Exchange email account
  • 1TB OneDrive cloud storage
  • 24/7 expert support

Microsoft 365 Business solutions from IONOS

If you are interested in one of the Microsoft 365 Business Plans we have shown you, you can also take out a subscription directly with IONOS. In addition to the standard Microsoft features, this includes an optional setup service that guides you step by step through the installation and configuration of the applications.

To protect your data in the best possible way, IONOS offers you spam filtering and virus protection in addition to backups in certified data centers. In case of problems or questions about software, subscription or similar issues, support is available around the clock.

A great pro of these office solutions is that they combine IONOS hosting products with powerful Microsoft applications. If you have questions about your invoice, require technical support or need help logging into the Control Center, you only need to contact one person.


If you want to purchase a Microsoft business plan or another Office offering, you can find more relevant information on subscriptions and licensing models in our dedicated articles:

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