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Tolar Systems has been serving the Abilene area since 2000, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Why Choosing the Right Microsoft Brands and Solutions Matters to Your Business

As the Texas Big Country's leading authorized reseller of Microsoft products like Office365, we get a lot of questions about which Microsoft brands and solutions best meets our customer’s needs. Why are there so many brands and solutions, and what do they all mean for the customer?hy does a solution that sounds pretty similar cost more for a business customer than for a home or student customer?

We’re going to break down some of these differences, focusing specifically on Office365, in today’s post.

Microsoft Brands and Solutions Delivery Options

Microsoft brands and solutions are separated by solutions and applications – such as Office, Office365, and the many applications such as Skype, OneDrive or SharePoint that make up those solutions – as well as categories for each market the solution targets and how the solution is delivered.

Delivery: Cloud or Licensed?

Microsoft delivers its solutions in two basic ways. One is as a licensed product that you download onto your device. The other, is as a cloud solution accessed via your web browser. The company’s branding differentiates between these. For instance, Microsoft Office refers to the licensed suite of software, while Microsoft Office365 refers to the cloud-based Office suite.

What’s the difference? There are many, but one important difference is with regards to security. With Office, your organization or technology provider is responsible for downloading and updating the software as needed. This version of Office is referred to by Microsoft as a “one time purchase” which means that updates and upgrades are NOT INCLUDED in the cost of the software. When upgrades or updates are available, you must pay for them, download and install them.

What this could mean for individuals or organizations that fall behind with upgrades and updates is security problems, since many of the upgrades Microsoft provides are security oriented.

With Office365, the software is maintained and updated by Microsoft, on Microsoft servers, and pushed out to every device on a regular basis, ensuring that your software is regularly updated and any security issues are addressed in a timely way. So, for organizations that lack the ability or desire to spend a lot of time and resources on updating software, Office365 is often a better choice.

Personal, Home or Business?

Another common source of confusion regards the difference between Microsoft’s Personal, Home and Business Premium solutions. Other options are also available, such as Office365 for Students, or Non-Profit, but we’ll focus on the three most commonly asked-about versions: Home, Personal and Business Premium.

With Microsoft Office365 Personal, only one user is included in the account, so for most businesses, this wouldn’t be a good choice. Microsoft Office365 Home, on the other hand, includes up to 5 users. This is the same number of users you get at the entry level with Microsoft Office365 Business Premium, so some small business owners opt for this solution thinking they can save money. What they don’t realize is that it’s not actually the same solution and they’ll get a lot more if they select Business Premium.

What’s the difference? Here are a few crucial ones.

Office365 for Home includes:

  • Office 2016 applications, including Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel and more.
  • File storage on OneDrive up to 1TB
  • Monthly or yearly subscription
  • Up to 5 users
  • $9.99 per month or $99 per year

Office365 Business Premium includes:

  • Business email addresses and 50 GB email storage on the Microsoft Exchange server.
  • Applications: Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access (PC only).
  • Services: Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, Skype for Business, Yammer.
  • Video and online conferencing up to 250 users with Skype for Business.
  • Chat based workspace with Microsoft Teams (no need for Slack).
  • Microsoft Bookings allows customers to schedule appointments online.
  • Company intranet and team sites with SharePoint.
  • $15 per month (or $12.99 per month if paid annually).
  • 1TB OneDrive storage.
  • Up to 5 users.

You can see that there is quite a bit of difference between the brands and solutions that Microsoft offers, so it pays to understand them before making a decision. For most business owners, the ability to have branded company email and to access additional tools such as SharePoint and Skype for Business to communicate and collaborate with employees, customers, partners and others is well worth the difference of less than $5 per month per user, even at the entry level.

If you have questions about the differences between Microsoft brands and solutions, contact us – we’ll be glad to help.

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