Microsoft Tweaks Office 365 For Smaller Businesses

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Microsoft today announced a raft of new Office 365 plans for smaller businesses that will eventually supplant its extant offerings.

The company is lowering the price of its most expensive smaller business offering — from $15 per seat per month to $12.50 — and raising the employee cap in some cases to 300 from 25. Microsoft has preserved a $5 per seat per month Office 365 option that includes its cloud products,  but not desktop versions of Office proper.

The moves are customer-friendly because we are in a period of intense competition. Microsoft wants to bring people in from the cold of their past multi-year software buying cycles, while also shepherding smaller companies and businesses into its fold by selling them Office as a service at moderate price points.

Google, Apple, Dropbox and Box want that same action. Far more than a trillion dollars in market cap is fighting for the right to store your files, and help you edit them. Those firms would very much prefer if Office 365 were a flop.

Here are the new plans, via Microsoft:

Office 365 Business – The full Office applications – Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Publisher, with 1TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage to access, edit and share your documents across your Windows PC, Mac, iPad, Windows tablet and smartphone.

Office 365 Business Essentials – The core cloud services for running your business – business class email and calendaring, Office Online, online meetings, IM, video conferencing, cloud storage and file sharing and much more.

Office 365 Business Premium – Get everything from both the Office 365 Business and Business Essentials plans.

The new options will go live on October 1.

Microsoft recently increased the amount of cloud storage that it staples to Office 365 accounts to 1 terabyte across the service, bringing more capacity to anyone who pays for Office.

Office 365 is becoming Microsoft’s Amazon Prime: A solution you pay for yearly that contains a kitchen-sink-like quantity of this and that. Microsoft, like Amazon, isn’t afraid of mixing in a slurry of services. If only Office 365 were as aptly named as Prime.