Microsoft recently introduced Microsoft 365 – a suite of tools including Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) under one license. It’s an excellent solution for businesses looking to simplify their technology management while keeping their business secure.
But like everything else, it has its pros and cons and won’t be the right solution for every business.
Microsoft 365 is billed on a monthly subscription model with a per-user price. Because it’s a month to month subscription, you only need to pay for the licenses you’re using. If an employee leaves, you can get rid of their license (though there are a few steps you should take first) and you can add new licenses at any time. You can also mix and match plans.
Multiple programs under one license also means fewer line items on your bill every month. If you outsource your IT and your service provider is also a Microsoft Partner, they may be able to add your license fees to their monthly bill (PTG customers – we can do this for you for Microsoft 365, Office 365, and other Microsoft cloud services).
Access to Newest Features
Because Microsoft 365 is subscription based, you’ll get access to the latest updates and features for all of the included programs (Windows 10, Office 365 and EMS) as soon as they are available.
If you’re the type of person who typically sticks with basics of Office programs, and doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles, this may not sound like a big bonus. But consider a different area: security. Cybersecurity threats are always changing and evolving and if your security isn’t evolving with it, you’re already behind.
Top-of-the-Line Security Features
One of the main selling points of Microsoft 365 is access to top-of-the-line cybersecurity features. The exact features you get will vary based on plan, but all Microsoft 365 plans include robust security features like mobile device management (including selective wipe), Windows Defender, BitLocker, and multi-factor authentication.
Enterprise plans include additional security features like data loss prevention, Azure Information Protection, and Advanced Data Governance.
Many of these security features include machine learning to learn more information about your environment (what’s normal, what’s not normal) and the cybersecurity landscape to keep your business safe from the latest threats.
Microsoft 365 makes it easier for your administrator to manage your environment by putting multiple tools in one admin console. From the Microsoft Admin Console, your admin can manage devices and apps and configure security policies. Microsoft 365 also includes Windows Autopilot which makes it easier to set up and deploy new machines.
Cons of Microsoft 365
Because it’s still a relatively new product, there aren’t a lot of options yet for Microsoft 365 plans. There is only one option made for small to mid-size businesses (Microsoft 365 Business) and three options for large enterprise organizations (Microsoft 365 Enterprise F1, E3, and E5).
If none of these plans fit your needs, you can still buy the components separately, but it will be a higher price than if you were to get them under a Microsoft 365 plan. We suspect Microsoft isn’t done introducing Microsoft 365 plans, though. If you there isn’t a plan that fits you right now, keep an ear out. There may be one in the future.
Compatibility with Current Systems and Devices
With Microsoft 365, you’ll get updates for the included programs as they are released. Typically, this is a good thing. But the latest and greatest updates (especially when it comes to operating systems) aren’t always compatible with line-of-business applications and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems. Make sure your critical systems are compatible before you make any changes (this is true for any operating systems change – not just Microsoft 365).
Because Microsoft 365 includes an operating system (Windows 10), if you have an older computer or laptop, you may have to upgrade to a new machine before you can use it. If you’re currently using Windows 7 or later, you’re probably ok. You can check the full Windows 10 system requirements here.
If you do need to upgrade to a new machine, several manufacturers have released devices specifically made to run Microsoft 365. Any device that meets the system requirements will work, though.
Need Internet Access to Access Some Features
Because much of what is included in Microsoft 365 is cloud-based (particularly Office 365), it may not work well for companies without a reliable internet connection or a very slow connection.
There are ways to overcome this if you have expected downtime, though. Most plans come with access to desktop versions of Office programs (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) and you can sync your files to your desktop.
How to determine what’s right for you
As with any new technology, you should weigh the pros and cons carefully before moving your business to Microsoft 365. If you’re already using Office 365, it’s probably going to be a good fit for you – but there may not be a plan that fits your exact needs right now. Don’t forget you can mix and match Microsoft 365 plans and Office 365 plans (plus add-ons like EMS).
Check the compatibility of your current systems and hardware to make sure they will work before you make a decision (or plan to upgrade those, too). This can make or break whether any new technology will be successful for you.
If you have any questions about Microsoft 365 for your business, please contact us. We’re happy to help.