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Microsoft 365 Business Collaboration and Device Management Bundle Is Now Available

A version of the Microsoft 365 service for small- and mid-size organizations with up to 300 users is now generally available. Microsoft 365 Business, released today, is the last of four versions of the new service announced in July that brings together Office 365, the Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) device configuration and management service and Windows 10 upgrades and licenses.

As part of the new release, Microsoft is introducing three new tools for business users called Connections, Listings and Invoicing, on top of previously announced apps, which include a mileage tracker, customer manager and appointment scheduling tool. The tools are available for customers in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. and are included with the $20 per user, per month subscription.

The company today is also releasing Microsoft StaffHub, its new tool for firstline workers designed to help them manage their work days, which is included in Microsoft 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium subscriptions

Microsoft released the technical preview for the business version back in August and had said it would become generally available this fall. The company has already released Microsoft 365 Enterprise, Microsoft 365 F1 for firstline workers and a version with two licensing options for educational institutions.

The company is betting that the new Microsoft 365 Business option will appeal to the millions of customers who currently pay $12.50 per user per month for Office 365 Business Premium subscription plans. It'll cost them an additional $7.50 per user per month for the new plan, but they'll gain configuration, management and security services, plus Windows 10 and the new apps.

Those who manage Office 365 for Business Premium users will transition to the Microsoft 365 portal. The latter is effectively the same as the Office 365 portal, bringing in the features included with Microsoft Business, said Caroline Goles, Microsoft's director of Office for SMBs.

"We designed it so it looks exactly the same, except it just lights up those extra device cards," she said during a prelaunch demo in New York. "If you manage Office 365, it will be familiar but will bring in those new Microsoft 365 capabilities."

Unlike the enterprise version, Microsoft 365 Business includes a scaled-down iteration of EMS suited for smaller organizations. Garner Foods, a specialty provider of sauces based in Winston-Salem, N.C., is among the first to test and deploy the new service. Already an Office 365 E3 customer, Garner Foods was looking to migrate its Active Directory servers to Azure Active Directory, said COO Heyward Garner, who was present at the New York demo.

"They were able to downgrade most of their Office 365 users and gain the security and management capabilities offered with Microsoft 365," said Chris Oakman, president and CEO of Solace IT Solutions, the partner who recommended and deployed the service for Garner Foods. "It's a tremendous opportunity for small business."

Also now available are three previously announced tools: Microsoft Bookings for scheduling and managing appointments, MileIQ for tracking mileage and Outlook Customer Manager for managing contacts. In addition, Microsoft is adding three new tools: Connections, designed for e-mail marketing campaigns, Listings, for those who want to perform brand engagement on Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp and Invoicing to generate bills to customers with integration into QuickBooks. These apps can all be managed in the Microsoft Business Center and the company is considering additional tools for future release.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 11/01/2017 at 12:06 PM


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