Microsoft 365 for Businesses: The Microsoft 365 suite

The first part of our series dealt with the extensive selection of licensing models, as well as the different software components, of Microsoft 365. Part two of our guide will discuss the plans available for small and medium-sized businesses. How do the plans for Microsoft 365 Apps for business, Business Essentials, or Business Premium differ from those offered to private users? What makes them stand out? This comparison of the three models focuses on the products and features they include as well as the cost, the payment types offered, and the maximum number of users allowed. This overview of Microsoft 365 Apps for business models will help you choose the right plan for your SME.

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How do the Business plans differ from the Office models for private use?

With Microsoft 365, Microsoft developed a concept of subscription plans with in-house Office applications to cater to a wide range of users. While the private sector is mainly covered with plans that include well-known programs like Word, Excel, and Power Point, the plans developed for companies include additional or business-optimized services, which simplify work collaborations. For example, Microsoft Teams replaces the standard Skype, which enables online meetings between hundreds of subscribers to be set up, managed, and tracked from a variety of devices. The communication software therefore provides you with the perfect basis for in-house and external internet calls and video conferences in HD quality.

In addition, there are several other services, such as Exchange Online, central team websites, the OneDrive for Business cloud storage, and Yammer’s social enterprise network, which considerably simplifies office life and daily business communications. In summary, with Office’s small business solutions, you can get the known and trusted Microsoft applications as online apps or installable components. On the other hand, Microsoft gives you access to useful tools and programs that help you and your business to develop, manage, and promote shared projects, while simplifying internal and external communication.

Microsoft 365: three small business plans for different job profiles from Microsoft

For small and medium-sized businesses, Microsoft offers three different Microsoft 365 models: Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft 365 Apps for business, and Microsoft 365 Apps for business Premium. These plans are limited to a maximum of 300 users. Microsoft also reveals how small a company has to be for it to classify as a SME and use these products. Companies with more than 300 employees have special solutions, such as Microsoft 365 Apps for the Enterprise or Microsoft 365. As a useful addition, Exchange Online Plan 1 offers a professional e-mail server solution with Outlook support.

All small business solutions require a filled-out subscription, where users can choose between the slightly more expensive monthly subscription and the annual subscription. If you choose the monthly subscription, you can cancel at any time without additional costs. If you decide to end the yearly subscription (which you can choose to pay each month or the whole sum at once), you will usually have extra costs (and you will not receive any money back for what you’ve already paid). All major credit cards are accepted as payment methods. Microsoft 365 Apps for business Premium users also have the option of paying by invoice. But how expensive are the different plans, and what are the different product ranges? 

Microsoft 365 with IONOS!

Experience powerful Exchange email and the latest versions of your favorite Office apps including Word, Excel and PowerPoint on any device!

Office Online
OneDrive with 1TB
24/7 support

Microsoft 365 Business Basic

Business Essentials is the most cost-effective model for small and medium-sized businesses. It gives you access to online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote via any standard web browser. Employees can work on files from these programs at any time and from anywhere in real-time, provided they have internet access. Files that are created with online programs are compatible with the current versions of the desktop applications, so you can send your own documents or open and edit external documents.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic’ main benefit is its support of you and your company when it comes to communicating and collaborating. The plan therefore contains useful online services, of which Exchange Online especially stands out. The e-mail system, protected against viruses, spam, and phishing attacks, provides a centralized hosting platform for all your company’s e-mail traffic. Sent and received messages can be retrieved and read from any device at any time via the Outlook Web App. Each user receives a 50 GB inbox and can send attachments of
 up to 150 MB in size. If you additionally acquire an installable version of Outlook, you can also retrieve your e-mails as usual via the interface of the client application. It is also possible to set up shared inboxes and calendars.

Additional services of Microsoft 365 Business Basic at a glance:

  • Microsoft Teams: the business version of the popular instant messaging service, Skype, allows you to communicate conveniently via voice, chat, or video, internally or with business partners. With the help of Outlook integration, plan your online meetings in advance and send personalized links to those that should participate. The tool boasts first class sound and video quality. For example, you can carry out video conferences with up to 250 participants at an impressive quality of 1080p.
  • Yammer: Yammer is a software that connects all employees and business partners. Since it is seamlessly integrated into Office, you can use the familiar interface to make company announcements, share files, or create group projects.
  • OneDrive for Business: Microsoft’s cloud service, OneDrive, is the perfect solution to store and manage your company’s data. You can create individual directory structures and define which users can view, create, or edit files. All files are available online and are accessible from anywhere using any device, and synchronization means that they are always up-to-date. In the Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan, 1 TB of memory is available for each user.
  • SharePoint/Team websites: one element of OneDrive for Business is the ability to create team websites. These are basically folders for files belonging to a project, and are equipped with 10 GB basic memory. Each user involved can access team documents and share up to 500 MB of their own files.
  • Sway: Microsoft provides you with Sway, an application that allows you to easily create a presentation of your latest projects, an informative newsletter, or an online course. Interactive and web-based, the created 'sways' can easily be split and displayed on different display sizes.

Microsoft 365 Business Basic is the ideal office suite for all companies whose employees frequently go on business trips or work from home, but at the same time need access to project files and e-mails. The plan provides you with a secure storage platform for your company data and gives your employees access to the most important Office applications via a browser. In addition, communication features, such as shared mailboxes, web conferencing, or team websites make collaborating on your projects easier.

Cost: $5 (per user/month) on a yearly basis or $6 (per user/month) on a monthly basis.

Microsoft 365 Apps for business

The Microsoft 365 Apps for business plan enables you to use Office’s online applications: Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Excel via a browser. In addition, the plan includes the fully installable suite with the new Office 2016 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and Publisher (for Windows systems only). In addition, mobile apps for iOS and Android are available, so that you can use the Office applications Word, Excel, and PowerPoint on the tablet or smartphone without needing a browser. Each user can install the suite with up to 5 Windows or Mac OS X devices, as well as 5 smart phones and 5 tablets.

Installable applications offer the advantage of being able to work on documents without relying on an internet connection. Since Microsoft 365 Apps for business also has a link to the OneDrive for Business cloud, it’s also possible to share files and have multiple people work on them in real-time. The cloud service synchronizes documents as soon as there is an internet connection – if you happen to store your projects on OneDrive. The business plan also provides each user with 1 TB of space for their files.

While the presentation tool Sway is part of the business plan, Microsoft Teams, team websites, and Yammer are not included. To benefit project and company communication, it is therefore necessary to set up alternative solutions. The e-mail host, Exchange Online, is also not included in Microsoft 365 Apps for business. To archive and retrieve your e-mails, it then becomes necessary to have an independent mail server solution. As a client, you can use the Outlook Web App or installable desktop application.


If you are satisfied with the structure of the digital information and the work structure within your company, and you are looking for a functional and versatile Office plan, Office 365 Business is an excellent choice. This small and medium-sized business plan assumes that you already have an e-mail server and have access to your own communication software – if you need these exchange platforms. After completing your subscription, you’ll get access to the latest Microsoft Office programs in web and desktop versions for PC, Mac, and mobile devices.

Cost: $8.25 (per user/month) on a yearly basis or $10 (per user/month) on a monthly basis.

Microsoft 365 Apps for business Premium

Microsoft 365 Apps for business Premium combines the functions of Microsoft 365 Apps for business and Microsoft 365 Business Basic into a single plan. This plan includes both the latest Microsoft Office products in online and desktop versions, as well as access to the high-performing Exchange Online and Microsoft Teams. The advantage is having all the tools a modern small business needs for structuring and collaborating on projects from one single provider. You do not have to rely on additional hardware or software to run an e-mail server or a file server, for example.

Just like with the other two business plans, this plan’s functionality and services are reliable: Microsoft guarantees a high availability of 99.9% and can always be reached in case of critical software problems. Store data on Microsoft servers is protected by state-of-the-art security measures and proactive monitoring. Simultaneously, data is available to you and your company at all times – Microsoft does not scan stored e-mails or documents for advertising purposes. To ensure the standard of security stays high, all new version updates and features are free. Active Directory Integration allows you to easily add new users, manage registration information, and access rights for all employees.


With Microsoft 365 Apps for business Premium, you get the complete solution for every day office life in your company, which not only means you get a cross-company e-mail solution including calendar and 50 GB of memory per user, but also video conferences in HD quality for up to 250 people. Additionally, you can provide up to 300 employees with the latest Office suite (online and offline version). You can save project files and important company data in the Microsoft OneDrive for Business cloud. Whether your employees work on-site, at home, or on the road, it isn’t a problem with Microsoft 365 Apps for business Premium: with internet access and the appropriate license, each user can assess the majority of components at any time.

Cost: $12.50 (per user/month) on a yearly basis or $15 (per user/month) on a monthly basis.

Die Microsoft 365 Apps for business solution from IONOS

The business packages that Microsoft offers for Microsoft 365 are perfect for the needs of small and larger companies: They contain high-performance applications in app, desktop, and web formats, regular updates, and first-class online storage capacities for e-mails and documents. If you’re interested in one of the plans presented above, it’s also possible to purchase a subscription of Microsoft 365 directly through IONOS. The packages come in three varieties: OfficeBusiness, OfficePremium, and OfficePremium Plus, and offer the perfect combination of Microsoft’s software and an great support and security.

Each package offers the Microsoft features as standard, along with other bonuses like optional data transfer service and a step-by-step guide to installation and configuration of your applications – whether it’s OneDrive, Microsoft Teams, or Outlook. On top of this, IONOS also offers expert telephone support around the clock, to help you with any problems concerning software, subscriptions, or other similar topics. In order to protect your data as best as possible, IONOS also offers the best spam and malware protection for Outlook and Co. as standard, while an OfficePremium Plus package comes with the security software Norton Security Online as well as a free domain for one year (also available in the OfficeBusiness package).

In the following table, we’ve summarized the most important features of each IONOS Microsoft 365 package.

  OfficeBusiness OfficePremium OfficePremium Plus
Web versions of PowerPoint, Excel, Word, and OneNote x x x
Exchange Online x   x
OneDrive x x x
Microsoft Teams x   x
Team websites x   x
Installable Office-Suite (Word, Access, Excel and Co.)   x x
Cloud storage 1 TB 1 TB 1 TB
E-Mail storage 50 GB   50 GB
Norton Security Online     x
Free online domain (for 12 months) x   x
Optional setup Service x x x
Monthly subscription cost for single user 4.99 USD 6.99 USD 9.99 USD

As an existing customer of IONOS, you can take special advantage of the Office solutions. By combining your existing plans with the IONOS high-performance Microsoft package, you’ll only ever need to speak to one contact person for all queries – whether it’s billing information, technical support, or login details for the Control Center. 

Microsoft 365 with IONOS!

Experience powerful Exchange email and the latest versions of your favorite Office apps including Word, Excel and PowerPoint on any device!

Office Online
OneDrive with 1TB
24/7 support