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Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs Office 365 E3 – What you need to know

By May 21, 2023June 27th, 2023No Comments

Microsoft 365 Business Premium and Office 365 E3 both cost $20 per month, so which one should you choose? Business Premium is one of the new plans that Microsoft launched after rebranding their old Business Plans, and it’s a really interesting one.

Business Premium has some limitations compared to Office 365 E3, but in return, it comes with all the security and management tools that you really want to have these days.

In this article, we are going to take a look at those differences. Also if you already have Office 365 E3, I will give you some tips and tools to help you work out if switching plans is interesting.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs Office 365 E3

Microsoft Business Premium is a business line plan and Office 365 E3 is an enterprise plan. So what does that mean?

To start with, business plans are limited to 300 seats. If you have more than 300 users, then Business Premium isn’t interesting for you. Because the advanced security features won’t work if you have more than 300 users.

Office 365 ProPlus vs Business

One of the differences that are hard to find online, is the difference between the two Office versions that you get with the two plans. Microsoft 365 Business Premium comes with Office 365 Business. Office 365 gives you Office 365 ProPlus.

Office 365 ProPlus and Business are not the same and the limitation of Office 365 Business can really be a deal-breaker for some large companies.

Features that are not available in Office 365 Business are:

  • Database Compare
  • Excel Spreadsheet Compare
  • Excel Spreadsheet Inquire
  • Group Policy support
  • Power Map for Excel
  • Power Query for Excel
  • Power View for Excel
  • Tap to find and reuse content

If only are few users need one of the advanced Excel features, then you can buy Microsoft 365 E3 licenses for those users only. But when you need Group Policy support, then Microsoft Business Premium isn’t an option for you.

SharePoint Plan 1 vs Plan 2

With Microsoft 365 Business Premium you get SharePoint plan 1 and with Office 365 E3 SharePoint plan 2. The main difference between the two is the amount of storage that your users get with OneDrive, 1TB vs Unlimited.

The amount of storage that you get for SharePoint is for both plans the same, 1 TB + 10 GB per user. So when you have 100 users, that would be an extra 1 TB of storage.

But there are also a couple of features in Plan 2 that can be really interesting for Enterprise organizations, Data Loss Prevention, enhanced search options, and In-Place hold. The first helps you to protect sensitive information, the latter prevents editing or deleting of data.

SharePoint Plan 1SharePoint Plan 2
Included inMicrosoft 365 Business PremiumOffice 365 E3
OneDrive Storage Limit1 TBUnlimited
SharePoint Storage Limit1 TB + 10 GB per user1 TB + 10 GB per user
Data loss preventionNoYes
In-Place holdNoYes
Enhanced Search FeaturesNoYes

Exchange Online Plan 1 vs Plan 2

Microsoft 365 Business Premium comes with Exchange Online Plan 1, Office 365 E3 with Plan 2. Again the main difference is in the amount of storage that you get. But there are also some additional features in Plan 2.

Mailbox size in plan 1 is limited to 50 GB, for both the mail and the Online Archive. Exchange Online Plan 2 offers a mailbox of 100 GB and unlimited archiving.

Other features that you get with Plan 2 are In-Place hold and Data loss prevention (DLP).

Exchange Online Plan 1Exchange Online Plan 2
Included inMicrosoft 365 Business PremiumOffice 365 E3
Mailbox Limit50 GB100 GB
Online Archive Limit50 GBUnlimited
Data loss preventionNoYes
In-Place holdNoYes

On-Premise Services

With Enterprise E3 you can use the user license in a hybrid environment. This means that the license can be used for both Exchange Online and the on-premise Exchange server. The same goes for SharePoint. Business Standard users can only use the Online Services.

Group Policies

Larger organizations use Group Policies to control (office) applications within a domain. This is only supported by the Enterprise plans. So without GPO support, your IT department can’t manage the Office application (setting security options, user preferences, template folders, etc)

Data Loss Prevention and Compliance

The Enterprise plans come with all the features you need to prevent data loss and to make sure you are compliant with all the regulations. DLP policies allow you to set rules to get warned or to prevent sharing of Personal Identification Information or Bank and CreditCard Numbers.

Also, the In-Place Hold and Litigation Hold can be really important features. If your company deals with a lot of legal cases then these features allow you to collect all the evidence you need.


While Office 365 has really good uptime, an issue can always occur. With Office 365 Enterprise plans you get 24/7 support for all issues. But with Business Premium you can only call for Critical issues.

The Advantage of Microsoft 365 Business Premium

So you might wonder what makes Microsoft 365 Business Premium interesting. Well, Business Premium offers you a wide range of tools to protect your business against cyber threats and to manage your endpoints.

Endpoint Manager gives you a couple of tools to manage your mobile devices and Windows 10/11 computers:

  • Microsoft Intune – Manage mobile devices and Windows 10 / 11 computers
  • Configuration Manager – Deploy apps, software updates and OS updates to your computers
  • Windows Autopilot – Automatically rollout new computers based on user role

Other advanced threat protection tools that are included in Business Premium are:

  • Microsoft defender for Office 365 – Protects against phishing links, ransomware and other zero-day threats
  • App Protection for Office Mobile Apps – Restrict copying company data to unauthorized apps
  • Information Rights Management – Control who has access to company information
  • Microsoft Defender – Protect your Windows 10 / 11 computers against malware and virusses
  • Conditional Access – Only apply MFA when needed

Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs E3 Comparison

I have listed all the features in the table below to help you compare Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs E3

 Business PremiumOffice 365 E3
Annual commitment
per month
Monthly commitment
per month
More infoMore info
Core Details
Maximum users300Unlimited
Microsoft Office AppsBusiness PremiumOffice 365 E3
Office OnlineYesYes
Desktop Apps (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote)YesYes
Publisher and Access (pc only)YesYes
Mobile appsYesYes
Install apps on up to 5 PCs/Mac + 5 tablets + 5 smartphonesYesYes
Microsoft Editor premium featuresYesYes
Microsoft Office AppsBusiness PremiumOffice 365 E3
Exchange (Email)Plan 1
Plan 2
Email archivingYes
Public folder & Resource mailboxYesYes
Microsoft ShiftsYesYes
Microsoft BookingsYesYes
Chat, Meetings, Social, and Calling
Microsoft TeamsYesYes
Live EventsYesYes
Phone System & Audio Conferencing
OneDrive Storage (per user)1 TBUnlimited 1
SharePointPlan 1 2Plan 2 2
1. 5 TB initial, contact Microsoft to increase. Less then 5 users, then only 1 TB per user
2. 1 TB Storage + 10Gb per user
3. 1 TB Storage
Project and task management
Power Automate, Power AppsYesYes
AnalyticsBusiness PremiumOffice 365 E3
PowerBi Pro
Endpoint and app management
Microsoft Endpoint ManagerYes
Mobile application managementYes
Remotely wipe company data from lost devices
Windows Autopilot
Set up and pre-configure new devices, getting them ready for productive use
Group Policy SupportYes
Shared Computer Activation
Use Office on RDS/Citrix
Advanced threat protection
Microsoft Defender for Office 365
Project against ransomware, phishing email, malware
Plan 1
Microsoft Defender for Office 365
Project against ransomware, phishing email, malware
Plan 1
Windows Defender
Firewall, Anti-malware, Exploit Guard, Credential Guard
Defender for Endpoint & Identity
Identity and access managementBusiness PremiumOffice 365 E3
Azure Active Directory PremiumPlan 1
Conditional AccessPlan 1
AD Sync for SSOYesYes
Windows Hello for BusinessYes
Microsoft Advanced Threat AnalyticsYes
Information Protection and Governance
Azure Information ProtectionPlan 1AIP for Office 365
Manual sensitivity labelsYesYes
Automatic sensitivity labels
Office 365 Data Loss Prevention (DLP)YesYes
Basic Office Message EncryptionYesYes
eDiscovery and auditingBusiness PremiumOffice 365 E3
Content Search, Basic AuditYesYes
Advanced eDiscovery, Advanced AuditYes
Litigation HoldYesYes
More infoMore info

Switching from Office 365 E3 to Microsoft Business Premium

The advanced threat protection tools that come with Business Premium can really help you protect your tenant and IT environment against cyber security threats. But if you already have Office 365 E3, then you really need to investigate if you can make the switch.

Group Policy support is for most larger organizations really a requirement. It helps you with configuring and protecting Office apps (by disabling macro’s for example). Officially GPO’s are not supported in Office 365 Business, but if you search online you will find that in most cases it just works.

As an alternative, you could also use the Office Deployment Tools to create a configuration with all the settings that you require. Not as good as a GPO, but might be sufficient.

OneDrive and Exchange Online

Make sure that you check the current OneDrive and mailbox sizes. Most users won’t exceed the 1 TB OneDrive limit, but the 50 GB mailbox limit is easily reached. You can use this PowerShell report to check the mailbox sizes in your tenant and this PowerShell report for OneDrive.

Wrapping Up

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is really an interesting alternative for Office 365 E3. It gives you a lot of powerful tools to protect your tenant and to manage your endpoints.

Make sure that you check if any of the limitations won’t affect your business. The Excel limitations can be bypassed by buying Microsoft 365 E3 licenses for those users, but this license will cost $32 per user.

If you have any questions, or spot something wrong in the comparison, then please drop a comment below.