Microsoft launches updated Office 365 for business users

Microsoft launches updated Office 365 for business users

Summary: Microsoft is launching the services piece of its 'new Office' for businesses on February 27. Here's what new and existing users can expect, as of today.


In late January 2013, Microsoft launched its consumer-focused version of Office 2013, known as Office 365 Home Premium. On February 27, the company launched the updated business versions of its Microsoft-hosted Office 365 offerings.


Microsoft has added three new packages to its Office 365 line-up for businesses: Office 365 ProPlus, Office 365 Midsize and Office 365 Small Business Premium. These complement the existing Office 365 Small Business and Enterprise offerings, which Microsoft is updating with many of the latest new features and functions that it introduced late last year for the on-premises complements of the products in the suite. (Microsoft released to manufacturing Exchange Server 2013, SharePoint Server 2013 and Lync Server 2013 in October 2012.)

What does "launch" actually mean in the context of Office 365? Here's what Microsoft officials told me:

  • The three new SKUs -- Office 365 ProPlus, Midsize and Small Business Premium -- are available for purchase for the first time, as of today. (A free trial is available via this link.)
  • Brand new customers can start purchasing the latest versions of Office 365 for businesses which includes the updated Microsoft Lync Online, Exchange Online and SharePoint Online services
  • Existing customers with version of Office 365 that includes Office can start using the latest set of Office applications (Office 2013)

Existing Office 365 customers will continue to receive the updated versions of Lync Online, Exchange Online and SharePoint Online "throughout the year" -- seemingly through November 2013 -- a spokesperson confirmed. (Microsoft officials said late last year that some Office 365 enterprise users were getting the updated bits starting last fall.) Microsoft gives existing users a two-weeks heads up as to when Microsoft plans to transition them to the updated Office 365. Users can reschedule the assigned date, if need be. 

Pricing for the new Office 365 business offerings is the same as what Microsoft's been telling partners it would be since late last year. Here's a slide from a deck the company supplied to partners outlining the pricing. (The top row reflects the Office 365 services pricing; the bottom row is the pricing for the equivalent on-premises SKUs.)


Read: ZDNet's Ed Bott goes hands-on with the new Office 365 business plans

Microsoft is holding an hour-long Webcast on February 27 to share more about the business SKUs of Office 365. Those interested need to register for the Webcast (the first of which starts at 11 am ET/8 am PT today).

Office 365 is Microsoft's competitor to Google Apps. It is a Microsoft-hosted suite that includes Exchange Online, SharePoint Online and Lync Online. Via various Office 365 offerings, Microsoft allows business users to install the Office client apps on up to five PCs and/or Macs locally. TechNet has more information on what's part of all the existing and new plans, ranging from Office 365 Small Business, to Office 365 Enterprise E and K.

Microsoft is not dicslosing how many Office 365 customers it currently has. The only customer numbers the Softies are sharing as part of today's Office 365 launch is that one in five of Microsoft’s enterprise customers now has the paid Office 365 service, up from one in seven a year ago. Officials also are saying that the number of small and medium sized businesses using Office 365 has also grown by 150 percent in the past 12 months.

Google, for its part, claims more than 5 million businesses use Google Apps.


Topics: Google Apps, Collaboration, Microsoft, IT Policies


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Exciting times!

    As nobody has yet posted I thought I would save Loverock, Toddbottom3 and all the the others the time in saying that " another great opportunity to acquire an exciting new MS product"
    End of conversation.
    The Central Scrutinizer

      I'm mentioned! Woo hoo!
      • Wait a minute...

        ...was that really funny, or was it just me?!?
  • Beyond trying to feed the trolls, Office 365 is a great service

    It can effectively take the burden of managing on-site servers for a small business. In addition to giving additional services most small businesses would never invest in. Lync, Sharepoint, etc.

    I'm sure the usual cheerleaders will raise their pon pons and the usual haters will spew their bile, but it is a good service for a reasonable rate.

    The competition from Google and others is what is driving these types of programs and in that regard we all win. Better services for less money.
    • Look past the pissing war people.

      Whether you love or hate MS this is a great product for businesses. The install and management is simple and easy to implement. If I'm an Admin at a medium or large business I like what this product can do for my team. You get true Office web apps and's not some cheap knockoff solution that comes with plenty of compromise!
  • How do we switch

    I moved from Google apps to office 365 last month, how do we get the new version? Can we push the change? I really don't like the current outlook web app and want to try the new version.
    • How to get the new bits (existing O365 users)

      There doesn't seem to be a way to "push" the change. I think you have to wait to be scheduled, unfortunately. Could be any time between now and Nov. 2013, if I understand the MS timetable correctly. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • The new bits might come very soon for some

        I can't speak for anyone else but I have been using O365 since its inception (I'm UK based and use the former P1 plan) and I received an e-mail from the O365 team last Saturday (23rd) telling me to expect the upgrade in the next few weeks.

        So maybe not too long to wait for some. I'd be interested to know if there's anyone else out there who has been told to expect the upgrade imminently.
        Policeman Fox
  • Of course, you do have to put up with

    yearly failures lasting from 12 hours on up.

    Like having your business shutdown due to inability to access files...

    yes, you can have local copies... but you can't share them - no passing to colleagues or customers...

    And you are forced into updates that may not be compatible with your existing files...

    And you give your data to MS, so be sure you are not doing something that MS might be interested in. They are well known for taking stuff that isn't theirs.

    And have to pay yearly fees. And if you decide to change platforms... ownership of the data is still in question.
    • "Of course"

      jessepollard- "yes, you can have local copies... but you can't share them - no passing to colleagues or customers..." If you don't have internet access, there no sharing of anything, if you have internet, but the 365 service is unavailable, you can easily share your local copies- you don't know how to use your provided SkyDrive storage or email?
      "And you give your data to MS, so be sure you are not doing something that MS might be interested in. They are well known for taking stuff that isn't theirs."- Oh, I thought that was Google that reads and analyzes every word in email and scans every Google doc file for selling to advertisers, and if you actually read their TOS, they can so far as run background internet checks on your and build a file with every bit of data that can be found on the web, including phone #, place of employment, and anything they can find of interest on you.. Oh, that's right, it IS Google, and they don't deny it- you did agree to the TOS and they make good business use of it.
      "yearly fees"- well, duh! It's a lease, silly. Of course fees are paid- or, just but the full Office suite you need and don't pay yearly fees, or get new features.
    • "Of course, you do have to put up with"...

      "yearly failures lasting from 12 hours on up" - They have an SLA... what's your uptime like?

      "yes, you can have local copies... but you can't share them - no passing to colleagues or customers..." - I guess Microsoft should get an award for inventing the only existing method of file sharing in existence via Office 365 huh? What an amazing service. Here I was thinking that I had been sharing / collaborating on files for years before it existed, but it turns out that I couldn't have been, because (According to you) that would be impossible without the Office 365 service.

      "And you are forced into updates that may not be compatible with your existing files..." - or you could just install the office suite locally and only apply updates that you choose.

      Out of curiosity, what company are you using that offers you the ability to update your web based app suite as you see fit? I don't remember that being part of Google docs.

      "And you give your data to MS, so be sure you are not doing something that MS might be interested in. They are well known for taking stuff that isn't theirs." - What the hell are you talking about? Please provide links, because I'm sure that the Apple / Linux bloggers on this site would be interested to know that MS is harvesting data from customer files and stealing their ideas... and congratulations by the way, for being the only wack job on earth that knows about this horrible conspiracy.

      "And have to pay yearly fees." - it's a subscription service. How stupid can you really be?!? Of course you pay yearly fees. That's the whole point. Did you think that you were gonna pay $20 and get enterprise grade email hosting, a full suite of productivity applications and data hosting for life?

      "And if you decide to change platforms... ownership of the data is still in question." - What are you talking about? You don't know how to export / backup files? or Did you expect Microsoft to mail you the physical drives when you cancel the service? Because personally, I have a local copy of all our email and sharepoint files. I'm not really sure how Microsoft would go about taking them from me should I decide to cancel. Maybe they send a guy over with a baseball bat? Must be a new service.
  • Confused as existing user of Office 365 SB

    OK, how do I as existing user of Office that does not include Office but does include sharepoint, lync, and exchange email--how do I get access to Office 13. I held off getting 365 home premium as assumed today would be able to get through Office 365 and now find out cannot??? Perplexed!! Existing customers cannot upgrade and get Office 13 now. What the heck do I do if want Office 13
    • "What the heck do I do if want Office 13"

      I'm somewhat disappointed that I can't upgrade immediately myself. I can't upgrade the workstations in my office because I need to maintain compatibility with a couple ancient applications and I don't feel like testing / troubleshooting them yet. I was hoping to upgrade my home PCs etc. though, just so I could play with the new stuff and get accustomed to it.
      • What do I do if I want Office 13?

        I don't understand the problem -- I've been using Office 13 Pro for several months now. Go to and buy it. If you have an MSDN subscription, just download it. What's the issue?