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Microsoft Broadens Office 365 Plan Switching

Microsoft announced on Thursday that it's now possible to switch Office 365 plans across "product family" offerings.

This plan-switching capability was first announced back in August, but Microsoft limited the switching then to just within certain plan families. For instance, it wasn't possible at that time to switch from Office 365 Small Business to the Office 365 Enterprise plan family. Now, that restriction has been removed and cross-family switching is possible among the plans.

It's even possible to jump from the lowly Exchange Online "kiosk" plan to the more expensive Office 365 Enterprise plan. Microsoft lists the eligible plans that can be switched at this support page. However, going in the opposite direction -- from a higher priced plan to a lower priced one -- isn't shown as a possible move per Microsoft's support page list.

Another caveat pertains to "manually" switching plans across families. Manually switching means calling a Microsoft representative to change an Office 365 plan. It isn't possible to switch back in those instances. "You can't switch back to your old plan after you switch to a plan in a different service family," Microsoft warns in its support page.

Microsoft had rolled out a "switch wizard" back in August to make it easier for IT pros to carry out an Office 365 plan switch via software without calling a Microsoft representative. That switch wizard tool shows up in the Office 365 administration console and it will list the possible plans available for migration, as well as the features and prices, according to Microsoft's announcement.

Microsoft claims that it is faster to use the switch wizard to make a service change compared with the manual process of calling up a Microsoft service representative. However, use of the switch wizard is still confined to organizations with less than 300 users.

The Office 365 plan switching capability has some limitations. For instance, it's not currently available to Microsoft's Open licensing customers. Microsoft's announcement vaguely suggested that Open licensing customers that want to switch their Office 365 plans should contact support.

Organizations with custom domains associated with Office 365 Small Business could experience problems switching plans. "If this happens you can remove the custom domain from your tenant and add it back after you have switched plans," Microsoft's announcement suggested.

Microsoft offers its Office 365 plans on a monthly subscription basis, with a mandatory one-year commitment. The plans can include various service offerings. For instance, the Office 365 ProPlus productivity suite may get bundled with combinations of Exchange Online, Lync Online or SharePoint Online services.

The rights to use Office 365 software ends with a failure to pay for it. That model contrasts with the more traditional perpetual licensing model. For instance, the rights to use Microsoft Office 2013, offered under a perpetual license, never expires.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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