Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise vs Business—a Comparative Guide

  • Articles
  • Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise vs Business...

Table of Contents

For decades, Microsoft has been the quintessential provider of productivity software. From word processing to spreadsheets, almost everyone has used the original trio of Microsoft applications—Excel, Powerpoint, and Word.

In the past, these applications were stored on on-premises devices and networks, and businesses had to purchase each application separately. After 23 years on desktop computers, Microsoft Office applications—now called Microsoft 365 apps—are available via an overarching subscription called Microsoft 365, which is now cloud-based.

However, there are two different types of Microsoft 365 subscriptions: Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise teams and for business.

This article explores Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise vs Business in a clear and concise way so that you can completely understand the differences between these two offerings and choose the best option for your organization.

Brief History of Microsoft’s Enterprise and Business Solutions

At first, Microsoft changed its productivity app branding to Office 365, which encompassed all of Microsoft’s productivity applications—Word, Outlook, Teams, Excel, etc. This branding change was first introduced in 2011, with the aim of simplifying the product catalog for consumers and businesses and aligning with their new subscription-based model, and was officially launched in 2013. The applications themselves didn’t really change, it was more than they could now be easily purchased together in a packaged format—also known as a software as a service (SaaS) solution.

Like other SaaS offerings, by being able to purchase Microsoft’s productivity applications together via a user-based subscription package, businesses can not only save on the cost of individual applications but also ensure that they receive the latest updates to the software at no additional cost.

For most organizations, employees use more than just one application—they will be using apps like Word, Outlook, and Excel regularly, meaning that paying for the Microsoft Office suite is a one-time purchase for one computer at a time would be extremely cost-prohibitive.

The Rise of Microsoft 365

Over the next 10 years, Office 365 would evolve from just being available on desktop computers to being available on mobile devices so that users on the go could have easy access to the applications they need. At first, it was released on iPhone and then Android.

From there, more quality-of-life features would be added—things like co-authoring (so more than one person can edit a document at one time), enhanced security features, and better-performing applications. In April 2020, Office 365 officially became Microsoft 365.

The evolution makes sense since the suite is much more than just productivity applications at this point. It includes robust security with Microsoft Defender and continued expansion of the product with new apps like Clipchamp, and Designer means that Office is no longer just Office—it’s security, storage, productivity, and more.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise

Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise

To better accommodate the needs of larger enterprise organizations (typically 250 employees or more), Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise was launched. The features, benefits, plans, pricing, and licensing options are described in more detail below.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise Features

The aim of Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise organizations is to provide a robust set of features that cover the entire gamut of the business’s operations, employees, security, and more. These features, at a high level, include the following:

  • Microsoft Office productivity applications, including Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, One Drive, Exchange, and more.
  • The latest Microsoft collaborative tools, like Teams and Microsoft Viva Connections and Engage.
  • Security features like Microsoft Intune, Microsoft Advanced Analytics, and Microsoft Defender.
  • Windows 11 Enterprise edition offers the full computer operating system to every user, with its advanced security features and compliance tools, making it more suitable for larger organizations with complex IT needs.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise Benefits

The main benefits that apply to all Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise teams include:

  1. Improved productivity: Because all M365 productivity applications are cloud-based, employees can easily access them from any device, as long as they have an internet connection available. This improves productivity for teams that are always on the go and allows for better collaboration.
  2. Enhanced collaboration: M365 includes collaborative features, like Teams and Microsoft Viva Connections and Engage, which allows better collaborative opportunities for in-office and remote teams. Applications like SharePoint and OneDrive provide a centralized location for storing, sharing, and managing documents, allowing teams to make simultaneous edits without grappling with different document versions.
  3. Better security and compliance: With robust security features like data encryption and multi-factor authentication, as well as centralized security management through ATA and Microsoft Defender, enterprise organizations can ensure security and compliance with all applications and data.
  4. Business intelligence and analytics: Through applications like Power BI Pro, enterprise organizations can enjoy enhanced business intelligence functionality, giving them more actionable and granular insights that can be applied to making effective business decisions faster.
  5. Cost savings and scalability: Instead of purchasing stand-alone products for each member of the organization, M365 allows easy scalability through user-based subscriptions. This gives everyone access to multiple applications for one cost per user and allows the organization to easily scale up or down based on the number of employees.
  6. Easy deployment and management: M365 is straightforward to deploy, but licensing and onboarding for certain applications, especially security, may be necessary. Amaxra provides effective licensing optimization and support for enterprise organizations looking to ensure their security solutions are as effective as possible.
  7. Upgrades included: Instead of having to purchase the newest versions of software every time there’s a major upgrade, an M365 Enterprise subscription includes all software upgrades for all included applications.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise Plans, Pricing and Licensing Options

Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise Plans, Pricing and Licensing Options

To support the evolving needs of enterprise organizations, there are Microsoft 365 subscriptions that combine security and productivity features in one package. These different subscription plans are summarized in the table below:

Enterprise application package

What it includes

Microsoft 365 E3 License

  • All Office productivity applications for mobile and web
  • The latest Microsoft collaboration tools
  • Robust security features, including Microsoft Intune, ATA, and certain features of Microsoft Defender

Microsoft 365 E5 License

  • All features of E3, plus more features of Microsoft Defender and Purview (offering better security and data governance)
  • Microsoft Teams Phone Standard (call control and Private Branch Exchange)
  • Power BI Pro (advanced analytics)
  • Microsoft Teams Audio Conferencing (up to 250 attendees)

Microsoft 365 F3 License

  • All Microsoft 365 web and mobile apps, including Outlook, Exchange, and OneDrive
  • Windows 11 Enterprise E3
  • A wide variety of productivity and collaboration applications
  • Windows Defender Application Guard and Bitlocker, plus other standard security features

Aligning with the original purpose of the Microsoft 365 rebrand, the purpose of these packages is to provide a simplified choice for different types of enterprise businesses:

Microsoft E3 Additional Notes About Pricing and Licensing

E3 is the option that includes all necessary productivity applications but is a bit lighter on the security side. It’s best for smaller enterprise businesses that don’t need features like VoIP or Power BI. It’s the middle of the road regarding pricing out of the three enterprise plans.

If your organization needs more robust security features, the Microsoft 365 E5 Security add-on is available for a reasonable price so that you can upgrade the security features without switching entirely to E5.

The Microsoft 365 Security add-on gives you access to the following advanced security features:

  • Azure AD P2
  • Microsoft Cloud App Security
  • Microsoft Defender for Identity (formerly Azure ATP)
  • Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (formerly Microsoft Defender ATP)
  • Microsoft Defender for Office 365 (formerly Office ATP P2)

Microsoft E5 Additional Notes About Pricing and Licensing

Aside from it being meant for larger enterprise organizations with teams of 300 people or more, E5 has more robust security options in addition to all the productivity features present in E3, and of course, includes Power BI and VoIP through Microsoft Teams. It’s the most expensive plan out of the three enterprise plans.

One of the important security features that E5 includes is Azure Information Protection P2 (AIP 2). A general comparison of AIP 1 and 2 is provided below:



Helps organizations discover, classify, label, and protect sensitive documents and emails. This includes tracking and revoking shared documents, file format protection outside of Microsoft Office and on-premises sensitive data discovery.

Includes all of the features of AIP 1, with the addition of:

  • Automatic and recommended data classification
  • Automatic email encryption for Outlook
  • Added information protection in Outlook that automatically detects potential sharing of sensitive information
  • Hold Your Own Key (HYOK) functionality for confidential information that prevents it from leaving an internal network
  • Automatic protection, classification, and labeling for on-premise files

Microsoft F3 Additional Notes About Pricing and Licensing

F3 is meant for frontline workers (hence the “F” on F3) and focuses primarily on productivity while providing some essential security features. It’s the least expensive plan out of the three enterprise plans. This is an upgraded version of Microsoft 365 F1 and provides these additional security features:

  • Conditional access
  • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
  • Intune for Mobile Device Management (MDM) and data sandboxing
  • eDiscovery
  • Office message encryption
  • Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics

As you’ve probably realized, Microsoft licensing in general, can be extremely confusing. That’s why entire businesses, like Amaxra, employ Microsoft licensing experts to help businesses save money and maximize what Microsoft applications and programs they can use for the most efficient cost.

If you’re a decision-maker at your enterprise organization that has a variety of Microsoft licenses for various applications and programs. In that case, it’s in your best interest to contact Amaxra today and get help with optimizing your licenses. You could save thousands of dollars.

Amaxra CTA  2
Need Help with Microsoft Licensing?
Leave your Microsoft licensing, security, and software solutions to us so you can concentrate on moving your business forward.

Drop Us a Line

Microsoft 365 Business Apps

Microsoft 365 Business Apps

Of course, Microsoft understands that not every business is an enterprise and that small and medium businesses also need tailored solutions. The features, benefits, pricing, and licensing options for Microsoft 365 Apps for business are described in more detail below.

Microsoft 365 Business Apps Features

In addition to improved productivity and collaboration, Microsoft business apps offer the following features:

  • Different ways to access Office productivity applications: Web, mobile, and desktop versions of Microsoft productivity apps like Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are available, with most plans to give more options for workers on the go.
  • Essential security features: Anti-spam, anti-malware, and anti-phishing, as well as other powerful security features, keep your sensitive company information safe and help prevent data breaches.
  • Cloud storage for each user: Ensures that user data is safe and accessible in the cloud.
  • Video calls and webinar support: Easily facilitate connections between employees, customers, and stakeholders with enhanced collaboration tools.

Microsoft 365 Business Apps Benefits

Benefits of Microsoft 365 business apps include:

  1. Email and document security: Anti-phishing and anti-malware features are included to help protect your organization from threat actors.
  2. The ability of Microsoft to act as a data controller and processor: Allows better protection and management of sensitive and confidential data.
  3. Easy deployment and management: Because Microsoft 365 business plans include everything you need to digitize your business as a holistic solution, you can rest assured that you have everything you need. The Microsoft 365 Admin Center is available for easier management of business applications.
  4. Easy scalability: Microsoft business plans charge per user, so it’s easy to scale your subscription up or down as needed.
  5. Included upgrades: Application upgrades are included in your subscription, so there’s no need to pay extra for the latest version.

Microsoft 365 Business Plans, Pricing, and Licensing Options

A wide variety of options are available for Microsoft 365 business plans to support the needs of different-sized businesses. These plans are summarized in the table below:

Microsoft business plan

What it includes

Microsoft 365 Business Basic

  • Web and mobile versions of Microsoft 365 apps—no desktop versions
  • Video and audio chat and call for up to 300 attendees through Microsoft Teams
  • 1 TB of cloud storage per user
  • Basic security, including Exchange Online Protection (EOP) which has preset security policies for anti-spam, malware, and anti-phishing. It also includes Microsoft Defender for Office 365 Plan 1
  • Anytime web and phone support

Microsoft 365 Business Standard

  • Desktop versions of Microsoft 365 apps in addition to web and mobile versions
  • Includes everything in Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Includes desktop versions of Microsoft 365 apps
  • Webinar hosting functionality, which includes attendee registration and reporting tools
  • The ability to manage customer appointments

Microsoft 365 Business Premium

  • Includes everything in Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Advanced security features, including Microsoft Defender for Business and the ability for Microsoft to act as a processor for data
  • Advanced threat protection (ransomware protection, better protection against phishing, and sophisticated attacks in email attachments and links, advanced restriction settings, etc.)
  • PC and mobile device management

Microsoft 365 Apps for Business

A similar solution to Microsoft 365 Business Basic, but with a few differences:

  • No teamwork and communication tools
  • Includes desktop versions of Microsoft 365 apps in addition to web and mobile versions
  • No business email and calendaring options
  • No EOP
  • includes Under-Domain Account Sign-Up and Under Simplified Sign-Up
  • The ability for Microsoft to act as a controller for data with Under Simplified Sign-Up

Additional Notes About Pricing and Licensing for Microsoft 365 Business Plans

Regarding the Microsoft 365 business plan pricing, you can choose between monthly subscription pricing or annual pricing. Besides the cost savings afforded by the annual subscription, the biggest difference is that if you opt for the monthly subscription and decide to cancel later, you won’t be charged a cancellation fee. On the other hand, early cancellation of the annual plan may incur a cancellation fee.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is typically a more economical option for businesses using Office 365 E3. Both are priced similarly, but Business Premium adds Windows 10 Pro licensing and includes most of the security features in the Microsoft 365 E3 enterprise plan. It also includes Microsoft Defender for Office, allowing easy MFA deployment.

Comparison of Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise vs Business

Comparison of Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise vs Business

While there are some similarities between the Microsoft 365 plans for enterprise and business, they have specific differences in terms of security and business intelligence. The table below showcases the high-level difference between Microsoft 365 apps for business and enterprise:

Microsoft 365 for business

Microsoft 365 for enterprise

  • Best for organizations with a small number of employees (all plans cap at 300 users)
  • Includes the full office suite on web, mobile, and/or desktop
  • Includes basic security that is more than enough for most small or medium organizations
  • Includes a decent amount of per-user storage (1TB per user)
  • Great for businesses looking to get started in the cloud or optimize their licensing with one holistic solution
  • Best for organizations that have 300+ employees
  • Enhances Microsoft Office applications with more advanced productivity and security features with Microsoft Viva, ATA, and Microsoft Defender
  • Provides data discovery and governance solutions that enterprise organizations would need to manage complex data movement
  • Offers more robust device and security management options with Windows 11 Enterprise, and Microsoft Intune

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise and Business

Because of all the different plans that Microsoft offers for businesses and enterprises, it can quickly become confusing as to which way you should go: business or enterprise. On the one hand, the business plans are more straightforward and tailored to be cost-effective yet feature-rich but don’t have the robust security features of the enterprise plans. At the same time, if your business is growing quickly and dealing with more complex IT concerns, it may be worthwhile to go with the enterprise plan initially.

See how quickly the complexity of the decision-making process increases? Sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step back and look at things from a high level. Here are some factors to consider when choosing between enterprise and business plans for Microsoft 365:

Business Size

Comparing Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise vs business, one of the major differences between the two is the size of the business they were designed for. If your business is less than 300 employees, there’s usually no need to go with the enterprise version of Microsoft 365. Enhanced security can usually be added on for negligible cost. For example, Microsoft Defender for Business adds enterprise-grade security to the Business Basic or Standard plans.


Of course, budget is always a factor when choosing business solutions. Because of the enhanced security features present in the enterprise version of the apps, the cost difference between the business and enterprise plans is significant. It’s important to compare both features and benefits and match those to business objectives and goals to determine the best option that fits your budget.

Security Needs

Depending on your business type and industry, you may be ok with the basic security features offered in Microsoft 365 business plans or need the more robust security features included in the enterprise options.

For instance, if your organization operates in a regulated industry or is required to meet specific compliance standards, it may be more cost-effective to go with an enterprise plan to get the security features you need.

Collaboration Requirements

If you require VoIP or the more robust collaboration applications like Microsoft Viva are attractive options for your teams, then it may be worth looking into enterprise plans as they include these features. Instead of purchasing collaborative features separately, purchasing an enterprise plan that is included simply may be more economical.

Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise and Business Implementation and Adoption

Whether it’s business or enterprise Microsoft 365 apps, following this adoption and implementation framework will help you build your business’s own customized approach:

  1. Envision. Identify and prioritize scenarios while learning about resources as you plan for application rollout. This helps you stay focused on goal setting and success measurement.
  2. Onboard. You should build and launch your adoption plan by working with your key stakeholders. Utilize early adopters to capture feedback and make necessary adjustments to the process before scaling to the rest of the business.
  3. Drive value. Continuous planning during the envisioning and onboarding phases is necessary to communicate and demonstrate value consistently. This includes monitoring user adoption, measuring usage, and encouraging ongoing engagement.


Now that we’ve compared Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise vs business, these two offerings' similarities and differences should be clear. However, navigating Microsoft licensing, especially when you may already have some Microsoft solutions in play for your business, can be difficult. For the best guidance and advice regarding Microsoft licensing and security that can save you time and money, contact Amaxra today.

Amaxra Contact Us CTA_1
Get Started Today

We'll build a secure and complete Microsoft software solution for your business while you concentrate on what's important. 

Contact Us

Subscribe To Our Blog