In my previous blog post I briefly discussed some of the features available in Office 365.  In this post I want to discuss the current Office 365 license plans available.  A lot is changing at Microsoft (see our previous blog posts here and here) so this is all subject to change.
The basic version of Office 365 for nonprofits is the Enterprise E1 plan.  The E1 plan is free for qualifying nonprofits.  E1 provides the Exchange Online email service which forms the backbone of Office 365.  It also includes Lync Online, OneDrive, Office Web Apps, etc.  One recent addition to the E1 plan is Yammer Enterprise.  Yammer is essentially an internal social network for your organization.  Much the same way that Facebook can be used to plan parties and events, Yammer can be used to manage a team or project.

The Microsoft Office Suite

The next step up isn’t really a plan so much as an add-on.  For an additional $2/month per user (for qualifying nonprofits), you can license the latest version of Microsoft Office Professional Plus (Office 2013, Office for Mac 2011, or Office for iPad).  You can install the Office suite on up to five computers or devices.  This is a feature I find really cool, because it allows an organization to give their staff Microsoft Office- even for their personal devices- but keep control of the software if the employee leaves the organization.
The disadvantage is that unless you have a strong BYOD policy or culture (or your staff want or need more than one license per user) it’s not really cost effective.  If your organization already receives charity pricing from Microsoft, it’s cheaper to buy a single stand alone license of Microsoft Office for $32 through TechSoup than to pay $2/month per user over the life of the software.  A new version of Microsoft Office comes out about every three years, so $2/month per user would translate to $72 over the three year lifetime of the software.

New Licensing Model

This is a bit of a non sequitur, but it’s worth pointing out that these are obviously two completely different licensing strategies.  Software vendors such as Microsoft and Adobe are trying to adapt to changing trends and are moving from the previous software distribution model where a software license was purchased for each computer.  The new model is to sell the software license on a per user basis and is called SaaS (Software as a Service).  This means that the software license is no longer attached to a specific machine, but instead is provided as a subscription to the user.  Users can install the software on any or sometimes all computers they use and the software will still be centrally owned and managed by the organization.
It’s hard to say if this will be more expensive for nonprofits or less, and it really deserves its own blog post.  What is clear is that the per user licenses of Office 365 offers a lot more bang for a little more buck.

Moving On…

The next step up is the E3 plan, which costs nonprofits $4.50/user per month for qualifying nonprofits.  This plan has a few advanced features that make it compelling to larger organizations, or organizations that have special regulatory or legal concerns.  In particular E3 includes user archiving and legal hold capabilities.  E3 also has unlimited email storage and comes with the Microsoft Office license mentioned above.
A full list of features for both E1 and E3 is linked to below.

More Information:

A full list of features for both E1 and E3
Adobe’s Subscription Model and Why on Stratechery