Is Microsoft’s Business Premium subscription worth the price tag?

Is Microsoft’s Business Premium subscription worth the price tag?

Business Premium is Microsoft’s fastest growing subscription within the 365 business tier, the trend looks to continue despite this years price increase.

Now retailing at £16.60 per month and over 75% more expensive that the next cheapest option, we have to consider whether it’s justifiable for organisations to make the leap.

Initially branded Microsoft 365, the “premium” label was added in April 2020 following a complete naming overhaul of business plans, it has since been the main focus of Microsoft’s marketing efforts as they look to push their new security product offerings. Since then, we have observed a number of companies adopting the plan without necessarily utilising all of the available benefits, the hype seemingly bringing desired momentum for uptake.

For those considering if it’s worth the uplift, we first have to understand what Business Premium offers above the standard offering. The key components being:

Defender for Business, Anti-Virus: A new security solution specifically designed for small business, containing a mix of features from the enterprise product tier (Defender for Endpoint Plans 1 and 2). Defender for Business Endpoint has the potential to replace existing anti-virus and web protection products, part of Microsoft endeavour to become your single source vendor for all things IT. Using Microsoft’s latest AI engine, Defender brings advanced capabilities including automated response and remediation with actions visible via a centralised management dashboard. Defender for Business is quicker to deploy vs the enterprise-tier alternatives with much of the initial configuration completed automatically.

Defender for Business, Email Security: Like Defender for Endpoint, this brings advanced capabilities from the 365 Enterprise tier and makes them accessible for small business, specifically, by improving email security. Features include protection from malicious email links, malicious email attachments, phishing and impersonation attempts. These safeguards typically required the use of a third party product, or, had to purchased from Microsoft as a bolt-on service.  

Enterprise Mobility & Security Suite: This is a collection of features which combine to offer advanced device, data and user account protection capabilities. Referred to as EM+S, the service includes 3 core components:  

1.       Intune:  For mobile device and mobile application management, bringing better controls and protection of your most valuable data when accessed via company or personal mobiles. Intune also offers remote management and automated deployment capability for user PC’s and laptops. 

2.       Azure Information Protection: Protect data sent via email with end to end encryption and advanced message controls including do not forward, copy or print restrictions 

3.       Azure Active Directory Premium: Improve protection for remote user access with features such as conditional access to block risky login attempts, blocking of common/custom banned passwords and improved user experience with options for self-service password resets and single sign on across all company applications.         

Windows for Business: This provides users with a free upgrade path from Windows 7/8 Pro to the latest version of Windows, and, provides usage rights for Azure Virtual Desktop. This allows companies to provide a cloud hosted and secure access to the applications and data that users require perform their tasks. This is fast becoming the preferred option for companies to allow users, temporary staff and contractors to access company resources whilst removing the reliance on managing the security and performance of the underlying device.

Purchased separately, these components cost £11.80 alone, minus Windows for Business which is only available as part of the Business Premium plan, perhaps not such good value in comparison.

So, is Microsoft 365 Business Premium worth the £7.20 uplift over Business standard? This depends on whether companies understand and intend to use the additional features on offer. Given the advantage of improved security, the option to consolidate supply chain and improved time to deployment, the price becomes easier to justify. Such improvements can also accelerate areas of compliance and endeavours including Cyber Essentials and Cyber Insurance acceptance.

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