Microsoft Office for Business

Find out more about Microsoft Office products, including in-depth reviews on the different packages available and a summary of the benefits for small businesses...

Your small business, like most, probably runs on Microsoft Office. The old, reliable and familiar suite of programs that work pretty much as they always have.

Microsoft is so commercially popular, in fact, that it sees over 50,000 small business customers added to its cloud product Office 365 each month.

Both your clients and your staff will be familiar with Microsoft Office, and without a subscription, you won’t be able to edit documents that are created in Office – a potential problem if dealing with copy or official documents. This means it’s a good idea to have the suite set up for business purposes.

But, with more and more businesses using Google Docs as a free platform for work – not to mention the rising costs of the Microsoft suite – you’d be justified in wondering if a Microsoft Office upgrade is really worth it.

Also, given the significant cost difference between the Home and Business plans, as a freelancer or early stage business, you might be wondering – can you just use Microsoft Office Home to help run your business?

Before you begin looking into the different Microsoft Office options that are available, it is crucial to think about what you and your business really need. You might be surprised by the variety of services available.

With Office 365, there’s more than ever to Microsoft than the bog standard Home and Business Plan.
Office 365 plans have all the mod-cons of Office 2019, except they’re cheaper, more flexible, and always up to date.


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Read on for a comprehensive breakdown of the different options Microsoft have for small businesses, which will help you settle on the best plan for you.


This article will cover:


The different versions of Microsoft Office for Business

Here’s a mini breakdown of the different Microsoft Office Business plans:

System: Includes: Cost:
Office Home & Business 2019 Classic 2019 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook One-time purchase of: £249.99
Office 365 Business Everything included in Office Home & Business 2019, plus Access and OneDrive £7.90 per user per month (This is an annual commitment, so you’re tied in for a year)
Office 365 Business Premium Everything included in Office 365 Business, plus Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams £9.40 per user per month (This is an annual commitment, so you’re tied in for a year)
Office 365 Business Essentials A services-only subscription providing: Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint and Microsoft Teams £3.80 per month (This is an annual commitment, so you’re tied in for a year)


What are the main differences between Office Home & Business 2019 and Office 365?

Office Home & Business 2019 is a one-time purchase for one device. This means that it doesn’t have an upgrade option – to upgrade to the next package, you’ll have to rebuy it at full price. Office Home & Business 2019 comes with classic apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint for PC or Mac, but does not include any of the additional services (like the internet-based file storage solution OneDrive) that come with an Office 365 subscription.

Office 365 comes with a premium selection of apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Access (Publisher and Access are available on PC only). These apps can be installed on up to five multiple devices, including PCs, Macs, iPads, iPhones, Android tablets and Android phones.

Office 365 also comes with 1TB of OneDrive storage, 60 Skype minutes per month, and 24/7 support. A 365 subscription guarantees the latest versions of all apps, and will automatically update as and when updates are available.

Unlike Office Home & Business 2019, Office 365 offers varying levels of service for businesses: Office 365 Business, Office 365 Business Premium, and Office 365 Business Essentials. Premium is the all-singing all-dancing package that includes all of the Office Apps, plus extras that make teamwork and planning a dream. The Essentials package provides all of the planning tools and email hosting, but does not come with Office Apps like Word, Powerpoint or Excel.

Read on for more comprehensive reviews of these Microsoft Office for Business packages.


Why is Microsoft Office for Business good for small businesses?

When it comes to choosing which Microsoft package to invest in (if at all), it can be tricky to decide on a system that’s best for you and your business.

That’s why Startups asked Michael Foote – founder of Quote Goat, a fast-growing comparison site – which of the Microsoft services his small business uses, and why:

Do you use Microsoft Office?

Yes, we use Office 365 Business.

Which features do you use most often?

Outlook, Word, Excel, MS Access & Skype For Business.

How is it helpful to a small start-up business owner?

Using Office 365 provides us with a level of functionality that would previously have only been available to businesses with a larger IT budget.

We made the switch in 2015 and although there is a slight learning curve, we would struggle without the features that we now have access to.

As an example, we can set up a new employee in minutes, and this can be done remotely. The same goes for when an employee leaves. We have full control of our data, and can delegate access to old mailboxes – as well as archive them – should they be needed in the future.

Would you recommend it to other small start-ups?

I would definitely recommend Office 365 to other small start-ups. If you are apprehensive about making the switch, particularly in terms of emails, you can work with a service provider who can help you migrate to the new platform and help you familiarise with the Office portal. We used Rackspace for this, and their level of service has been excellent.

Besides Microsoft, what solutions do you use, and why?

I work with businesses that use other solutions and am yet to come across one that I feel works as well as Microsoft.


Can I use Microsoft Office Home for my business?

As most people only use 20% of the functionality of the Office 365 suite, you might be wondering if you can simply use your Microsoft Office Home package to run your business.

While using your pre-existing Microsoft Home package to complete all of your day-to-day tasks is doable, it is not sustainable in the long term.

From producing stellar copy and creating engaging presentations through to the number-crunching spreadsheets every business owner needs to master, Microsoft helps you with it all. It’s tempting to use your bog-standard Home package to get the job done, but this’ll mean you’re operating without a commercial licence, and missing out on loads of useful extras that come with the Office 365 suite.

Hannah Brice, founder of Upmarketry, has recently transitioned from using Microsoft Home to the Office 365 Business Premium service to run her business.

Says Brice: “The business package is just under £4 more a month, but to be honest, I wish I’d changed sooner – the benefits are huge!”

But why choose the Microsoft suite over, say, Google Docs?
Brice goes on to explain:

“Having used Microsoft Word since school, I’ve been a fan for some time – and then trying Apple’s Pages on the iPhone only emphasised that. I have found that Google Docs does have its benefits when you’re collaborating on a document with several people, but its functionality is limited.

“The system works across all my devices, making the whole process of syncing and sharing information effortless. With Microsoft Office 365 Business Premium, I am literally able to access my whole office and run my business wherever I am.

“Word, Excel and Powerpoint continue to be brilliant tools, but I also benefit from video conferencing services. There’s also Microsoft Teams, which acts as a shared workspace; Microsoft Planner, which records my team’s tasks and progress; and there’s also 1TB of file storage, plus 24/7 support in case something goes wrong.

“The one con of this package is that it’s a pain to set up. I’d recommend setting aside at least a day to get everything up and running. For this reason, the 24/7 support has been invaluable.

“At the price of £9.40 a month, it’s worth every penny. If you set yourself up with it before you even start your business, you can benefit from the email hosting the package provides, too.”

Now you know what’s popular with other small business owners, read on to decide which version of Microsoft Office for Business could work best for you.


Microsoft Office for Business reviews

Office Home & Business 2019

What does it include?

Professional, efficient and familiar: this is a no-frills package, comprising the bare essentials that’ll get the job done. Featuring Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, plus OneNote for Windows 10, it’s a one-time purchase installed on one PC or Mac for use at home or work.

Unlike Microsoft 365 packages, Office Home & Business 2019 can only be used on one device – usually the family or home PC.

Also, Office Home & Business 2019 does not update automatically with changes to the Microsoft suite. To stay completely up to date, you’ll need to buy a new package every few years.

How much does it cost? £249.99

Who is it good for?
Families and small businesses who just need the classic Office apps and email services.

Star Rating:
★★★★★


Office 365 Business

What does it include?

  • Desktop versions of the classic Office apps: Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, plus Access and Publisher for PC only.
  • Web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are also included, with one license covering fully-installed Office apps on five phones, five tablets, and five PCs or Macs per user.
  • File storage and sharing with 1TB of OneDrive storage, enabling file hosting and synchronisation.
  • 24/seven phone and web support is available, plus, you can rest assured that you are fully licenced for commercial use.

How much does it cost?
Annual commitment: £7.90 per user per month
Monthly commitment: £9.50 per user per month

Who is it good for?

Small businesses who would benefit from having online access to all of their documents at all times, and who use a variety of devices in different locations. Office 365 Business is great for cloud file storage and sharing, but doesn’t come with a business email feature.

Star Rating:
★★★★


Office 365 Business Premium

What does it include?

  • Desktop versions of the classic Office apps: Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, plus Access and Publisher for PC only.
  • Web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are also included, with one license covering fully-installed Office apps on five phones, five tablets, and five PCs or Macs per user.
  • File storage and sharing with 1TB of OneDrive storage, enabling file hosting and synchronisation.
  • 24/seven phone and web support is available, plus you can rest assured knowing you are licenced for commercial use.
  • Email hosting with 50GB mailbox and custom email domain address
  • SharePoint for company-wide intranet and team sites
  • Online meetings and video conferencing facilities for up to 250 people
  • Microsoft Teams – a hub for teamwork
  • Outlook Customer Manager – a top-notch customer relationship management system
  • Microsoft Invoicing, Microsoft Bookings, and MileIQ, to help you manage your finances
  • Microsoft Planner for managing tasks and teamwork projects

How much does it cost?
Annual commitment: £9.40 per user per month
Monthly commitment: £11.30 per user per month

Who is it good for?
Businesses who have a lot of big team projects to keep on top of, as well as businesses that conduct a lot of meetings (both internally or with clients). The Premium package is also good for businesses who are fond of working in remote locations, but need access to files and need the option to connect to the rest of the team, any time, anywhere.

Star Rating:
★★★★★


Office 365 Business Essentials

What does it include?

  • File storage and sharing with 1TB of OneDrive storage for internet-based file storage and synchronisation.
  • Web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
  • One license covers five phones and five tablets per user only
  • 24/seven phone and web support is available, plus, you can rest assured that you’ll be fully licenced for commercial use
  • Email hosting with 50 GB mailbox and custom email domain address
  • SharePoint for company-wide intranet and team sites
  • Online meetings and video conferencing facilities for up to 250 people
  • Microsoft Teams – a hub for teamwork
  • Microsoft Planner for managing tasks and teamwork projects
  • How much does it cost?
    Annual commitment: £3.80 per user per month
    Monthly commitment: £4.50 per user per month

    Who is it good for?

    Businesses of 300 staff or fewer who need a business email and other business services, but aren’t too fussed about Office applications like Word or Excel.

    Star Rating:
    ★★★★★


    Final thoughts:

    Most small business owners agree that a Microsoft Office suite of some sort is essential to the smooth running of a business. Whether it’s for sending sensitive documents, creating elaborate cost sheets, or making conference calls, a Microsoft Office for Business plan is key to looking professional.

    While Google Docs and Apple Pages might cut it for internal use, clients will see the Microsoft suite as a professional, accessible way to share documents.

    If it’s consistency and familiarity you’re looking for, then the Office Home & Business 2019 plan would be best for you. It’s Microsoft’s finest Apps, all found in one package and bought with one single payment. What’s more, you can probably get a good two years – three at a push – out of the software before it’s outdated.

    If you like change and are always hungry for the freshest, most up-to-date software, then an Office 365 plan would be great for your business. Always current and offering unique communication and planning services, the plans are packed with features you never knew you needed.