Microsoft 365: Know Your Plan

While it has been true for some time, during the Covid-19 pandemic, when quarantines, lockdowns, and shelter in place are forcing the vast majority of information workers to work remotely, and when video conferencing is ubiquitous, Microsoft wants everyone using Microsoft Teams.

Question: True or False: Every Microsoft 365 plan that is business- or enterprise-focused includes a license for Microsoft Teams.

Answer: FALSE

I was out for a stroll a few days ago when a friend of mine messaged me and asked the following question:

Hey man, how well do you know M365 licensing? Any knowledge on the deets for M365 Apps for Enterprise? I’ve got someone who is stuck in a license spiral about teams.

I answered that I was reasonably sure that all enterprise SKUs of Microsoft 365 did, but that I would check.  A quick review of the plans proved that I was wrong.  My friend is likely not the first to make that mistake.  When I log on to my Microsoft 365 tenant and click on Purchase Services, the following blurb is written at the top:

Microsoft 365 combines Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security together for your organization. Today’s modern workspace allows people to meet, collaborate, and stay connected across boundaries. Microsoft 365 supports teamwork, connecting services like Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, and Yammer and providing a hub for collaboration. (

You see it right there, don’t you?  It is right in the blurb.  “…connecting services like Microsoft Teams…

imageIf I were the responsible for purchasing Microsoft Office licenses for a team of information workers, which I have been as recently as a couple of months ago, I would look at this and say “Hey! I used to be able to buy Microsoft Office Pro Plus for my employees who did not need all of the on-line collaborative tools, so why can’t I do that anymore?” Well the answer is simple: You can… they (Microsoft) just don’t go out of their way to tell you about it.

I spent many years living in a Microsoft bubble.  I used (and consulted and taught) Microsoft Windows (client and server), Microsoft Office, Microsoft virtualization, Microsoft <fill-in-the-blank>.  Of course I knew about competing products, but the goal of my knowledge, especially when I was representing Microsoft, was to know them so that I could help customers move off them onto Microsoft platforms.  However, and despite the true wishes of the Microsoft Corporation, many people and organizations choose to not use Microsoft technologies… or at least, not use them exclusively.

Microsoft has great anti-malware tools… and yet most organizations use Symantec, McAfee, Kaspersky, or myriad others for the task.

Microsoft has great management solutions… and yet many organizations eschew them in favour of third-party tools.

And more directly on-point:

Microsoft has great collaboration tools.  Office 365 includes great e-mail, calendaring, web portal, chat, and video conferencing tools… and so much more.  And yet, many organizations opt to use G-Suite, WebEx or Zoom, and others.

And so, when I click on Add Account in my Microsoft Office Outlook client, I will get to the following screen:


Of course, four of these options are for Microsoft back-end products.  Microsoft 365, Exchange, older versions of Exchange, and even the free are all options.  However, so is Google.  And, because there are other mail servers and services that are less ubiquitous that might require manual configuration, there are still the options for the old standards, Post Office Protocol (POP) and Internet Mail Access Protocol (IMAP).

So yes, Microsoft hopes you buy the full package, which not only includes all of the client applications (by the way, all of the Microsoft 365 SKUs will include the on-line applications (accessed via web browser), but there are SKUs – such as Microsoft 365 Business Basic – that do not include the client (locally installable) applications.

microsoft365-enterprise-adminstrator-expert-600x600Before you place your order, make sure that the option you choose includes all of the features that you need.  There are many options that you can choose from, and certainly they do not make it easy for the lay person to follow.  That is why there are Microsoft Certified Professionals to help.  For this particular task, my friend knew that I was a Microsoft 365 Certified Enterprise Administrator (Expert), which means that while I do not necessarily know all of the options off the top of my head, I certainly know where (and how) to find the answer.

I hope this helps you better understand why Teams – a very popular product that Microsoft wants everyone using – is not available with all M365 bundles.  Good luck finding the right one for you!

<irony>…and now if you will excuse me, I have a Zoom meeting to join.</irony>


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