Microsoft 365 Business Explained

Earlier this month, Microsoft unveiled an awesome new set of tools called Microsoft 365.  It’ll be available in two flavours; Enterprise and Business. In this post, I’m going to try and have Microsoft 365 Business explained simply. I’ll cover why I think it’s great for partners. I’ll also have all the most useful information pulled together in one place.

What is Microsoft 365 Business?

It’s probably worth spending a moment recapping on what Microsoft 365 actually is! For several years, Microsoft’s had distinct cloud services; Office 365, Intune, Azure, etc. While they’ve always worked well together there’s always an opportunity to make it even easier for partners to deliver value to small businesses. Likewise, to enable small businesses to achieve more, securely and without the need to invest in expensive infrastructure. Microsoft 365 Business is “a comprehensive set of business productivity and collaboration tools, such as Outlook, Word, Excel, and other Office products that are always up to date. You can protect your work files on all of your iOS, Android, and Windows 10 devices with enterprise-grade security that is simple to manage“.

In short, it pulls together the best of Office 365 Business Premium, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Windows 10 into a single SKU and a single admin console. It gives partners enhanced capabilities to make it easier to deploy, manage and secure a customer’s productivity and devices infrastructure. Microsoft 365 Business is aimed at smaller business, up to 300 users. It’s available as of November 1st 2017 and you can sign up on the main website. It’ll cost $20 per user, per month.

What’s included in Microsoft 365 business?

As well as including Office 365 Business Premium and Windows 10 Pro*, Microsoft 365 Business includes additional capabilities to make it easier to provision and secure devices and to enable small business users to work anywhere easily.

Microsoft 365 Business Features

Device managementSingle console to manage user and device settings
Self-service PC deployment with Windows AutoPilot
Automatically deploy Office apps to Windows 10 PCs
SecurityProtect company data across devices
Secure access to documents on mobile devices
Protect Windows 10 devices against malware, viruses, and spyware with Windows Defender

So it isn’t the entire Enterprise Mobility + Security suite, but the key capabilities to support easy provisioning and deployment of users, devices and applications. It’s all managed via a single portal and licenced per user, per month. There’s a great page on the partner portal that explains further what’s included.

Why I think it’s great

I think time is precious, and if you’re able to reduce the time to onboard a new staff member and get them using a new device, with key apps like Office installed automatically, you can get more value from your IT, more value from your employee and achieve more overall. I’ve long believed that front-line IT should be effortless, transparent. It shouldn’t be a conscious thought to ‘use’ a computer – if it is, it’s too difficult. Knowing that when I turn on my brand new Windows 10 device, Windows AutoPilot is going to take care of everything for me is fantastic. It’s even better to know that all my core applications are going to be kept up to date automatically, too.

A partner for Digital Transformation

I believe, as a Microsoft Partner, you can go from being great to being awesome as you become able to provide a better support experience. You make this magic happen through the Partner Center. Just associate the device IDs with the customer tenant and you’re good to go! You can fulfil device orders and commission devices more quickly and with fewer overheads. It also means you’ll close deals quicker and retain your clients for longer by presenting them with a powerful, integrated solution.

This seamless, magical solution is a real differentiator for partners. It’s a fundamental part of being a digital transformation enabler for your customers. Much more so that ‘just’ deploying Exchange Online, or Intune on their own.

I also think it’s pretty great because you can be more profitable. A new Forrester TEI study suggests Microsoft Partners could see +8% on managed services margins, +10% increase on managed services attach rate, and +20% on deployment and advisory services revenue. Who wouldn’t want to be able to make more money? 🤔

Where to learn more

Like with any new launch, there’s a tonne of information floating around. These are the best links I’ve found so far to help you get up to speed:

*Includes upgrade benefits for Windows 7 or 8/8.1 Professional licensed PCs to upgrade to Windows 10 Professional.

Update: Edited to reflect general availability.