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20 April 2017

A guide to Microsoft 365 licensing

Mathew Richards

Get answers to the most common Microsoft 365 licensing questions and uncover the suite's value.

At ThirdSpace, we speak to many organisations looking to harness the benefits of digital solutions to free their workforce from the shackles of the past. Solutions that enable employees to work and collaborate from anywhere, at any time and on any device, with simple and secure access to the applications and information they need to boost their productivity.

In parallel, as more information, devices and users travel beyond the traditional network restraints, every organisation needs to place security at the forefront of a modern workforce strategy.


Microsoft 365: Your questions answered

Since its launch in 2017, we’ve heard many questions from our clients about what Microsoft 365 offers. Here we provide answers to four of the most common…

1. What is Microsoft 365 all about?

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is a licensing option that effectively bundles Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security technologies into a single offering. It comes in two variants: Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5. It can be purchased per user, and you can make a significant cost saving purchasing this way versus buying the products individually.

There are several other nuances, in terms of how you can buy Microsoft 365; e.g. through which licensing program and how much it will cost you. The answers to these questions will largely depend on your organisation’s requirements and your current licensing position with Microsoft.

Watch conditional access and multi-factor authentication webinar

View 'Safeguard your data and applications with conditional access controls and multi-factor authentication' and discover:

  • Why conditional access and MFA technologies are essential
  • What actions you can take right now to mitigate the risk of a breach
Watch on-demand now

2. Is Microsoft 365 just SPE under a different name?

The Microsoft Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE) has effectively become Microsoft 365 Enterprise and includes the following core products and services:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise (E3 & E5)
  • Office 365 (E3 & E5)
  • Enterprise Mobility + Security (E3 & E5)

3. What is Enterprise Mobility + Security?

Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) is simply what was the Enterprise Mobility Suite. The name change reflects the significant number of security products and services that have been added to this solution since the launch of EMS.

4. So, is Microsoft 365 just a licensing bundle?

Microsoft 365 can just be a licensing bundle, if that’s all you want it to be. But it is also much more…

There is so much technology in Microsoft 365 (and Microsoft is adding to it all the time) that it can be hard to keep up.

From a licensing perspective, Microsoft 365 includes cloud and on-premises licensing entitlements to help organisations who plan to transition to the cloud over time, allowing Software Assurance customers to install Office Professional Plus and Office 365 Professional Plus on up to five devices per user for the length of the subscription.

You also get the on-premises server rights for SharePoint, Exchange and Skype for Business thrown in.

For an at-a-glance view of the current technologies in Microsoft 365 E3 and E5, download our snapshot infographic.

Preview of Microsoft 365 licensing infographic with prompt to download.


There is so much technology in Microsoft 365 that we simply don’t have time to go through each of them in a single blog post.

In our next blog, we examine each of the core elements (Windows 10, Office 365 and EMS) in turn, and focus on the exciting security technologies that enable you to protect, detect and react to cyber security threats, with an aim to answering the common question: “Why would I need E5 over E3?”

And don’t forget to watch our conditional access and MFA webinar on-demand. Discover why these technologies are key to securing your organisation’s assets.

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Mathew Richards
Head of Mobility & Security
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