Microsoft wraps cloud subscription services into new Microsoft 365 bundles

Microsoft is taking another crack at getting enterprise and business customers to use more of its cloud services with new Microsoft 365 bundles.

A year ago, Microsoft introduced a bundle of its cloud services called Secure Productive Enterprise. On July 10, Microsoft took the wraps off its successor, known by the catchier name "Microsoft 365."

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Microsoft 365 -- which Microsoft officials unveiled on the first day of the company's "Inspire" Worldwide Partner Conference -- will come in two primary flavors: Enterprise and Business.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3 and E5 will bring together Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility + Security into a single offering. Customers will be able to buy Microsoft 365 Enterprise through Enterprise Agreements or Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) resellers.

(For those needing a refresher, the full version of the Enterprise Mobility + Security Suite includes Azure Active Directory Premium, Intune, Azure Information Protection Premium, Cloud App Security, and Advanced Threat Analytics.)

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Microsoft 365 Business will include Office 365 Business Premium plus security and management features for Office apps and Windows 10 devices, which users can access from a single console. The Business version includes upgrade rights to Windows 10, Microsoft execs said. Customers will be able to buy the Business version directly from Microsoft or via CSPs.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise will be available for purchase as of August 1. Microsoft 365 Business will be available in public preview starting August 2.

The Microsoft 365 Enterprise bundles basically are identical to their Secure Productive Enterprise E3 and E5 Windows 10 predecessors -- which consisted of Windows 10 Enterprise (E3 or E5), Office 365 (E3 or E5), and the Enterprise Mobility + Security suite (E3 or E5). Microsoft unveiled its Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 and Secure Productive Enterprise subscription offerings at last year's partner show.

Microsoft's aim with Windows 10 Enterprise and Secure Productive Enterprise was to give more of its small and mid-size business users an easier way to move to more premium versions of its various subscription products.

Once Microsoft 365 Enterprise is generally available, Microsoft will discontinue offering the Secure Productive Enterprise bundle, officials said.

However, Microsoft will continue to offer subscription versions of Windows 10 Enterprise as standalone offerings, for those who don't want/need the full Microsoft 365 bundles. Windows 10 Enterprise E3, which cost $7 per user per month (1 seat minimum, no seat limits), also provided users with five device installs per user. The E5 version cost $14 per user per month.

Pricing for Microsoft 365 Enterprise will vary based on the plan and other factors, company officials said; customers should contact their account managers for specifics. For a potential frame of reference, partners have been selling Microsoft Secure Productive Enterprise E3 for about $36 per user per month and the E5 version for about $54 per user per month.

Microsoft 365 Business will be offered at $20 per user per month, execs said.

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