22 min read

Microsoft 365 101: The Ultimate Guide to Microsoft Office 365 Licensing

With an astonishing surge in subscribers reaching a staggering 382 million users in 2023, Microsoft 365 has firmly established itself as one of the most acclaimed cloud and productivity solutions available. For organizations contemplating a transition to the cloud, Microsoft 365 emerges as the perfect launching pad. Uncover more about the licensing options and the extraordinary advantages it can deliver to your organization.


  1. Why Your Organizations Needs Microsoft 365
  2. Microsoft 365 vs. Office 2021
  3. New Changes to Office 365
  4. Microsoft 365 Licenses
  5. Guide to Microsoft 365 Licensing
  6. Microsoft 365 Benefits
  7. Why You Should Work with a Managed Service Provider?
  8. Contact Datalink Networks 

Why Your Organization Needs Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 is a game-changing suite of tools that can completely transform your organization's productivity, communication, and cost-effectiveness. With its cloud-based platform, you have the freedom to access your applications and data from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection.

But that's not all. One of the most impressive advantages of Microsoft 365 is its incredible collaboration features. By harnessing the power of tools like Teams and SharePoint, you can effortlessly collaborate with your colleagues, whether they're in the office or working remotely. This not only supercharges teamwork, but also saves you precious time by enabling real-time communication among team members.

The possibilities are endless with Microsoft 365, and it's time for your organization to unlock its full potential. Say goodbye to limitations and hello to a new era of productivity.


Migrate to Microsoft today with Datalink Networks!

In today's world, organizations are increasingly concerned about security due to the rise in cyber-attacks. Microsoft 365 offers a range of security features, including multi-factor authentication, advanced threat protection (ATP), and data loss prevention (DLP) policies, which provide businesses with the assurance that their sensitive information will remain safe from unauthorized access or breaches.

Furthermore, migrating to Microsoft 365 not only enhances security but also eliminates the need for multiple software subscriptions, saving companies money per user per month that would have otherwise been spent on different programs! By consolidating all these essential business functions under one platform, tasks are simplified, errors are reduced, and day-to-day operations become much smoother.


Microsoft 365 vs. Office 2021


As the news spread that Microsoft 365 encompassed Office 365, it only fueled the confusion and left many users scratching their heads. The rebranding of Office 365 as Microsoft 365 added another layer of complexity to the situation. To help clear up this perplexity and provide a comprehensive overview of both Microsoft 365 and Office 2021, let's take a deep dive into these two software suites.

Microsoft 365 is a cloud-based suite of apps that includes the Microsoft Office Suite and email services. It offers cloud-enabled versions of popular Microsoft Office productivity applications, such as Excel, Word, and PowerPoint, along with additional online services for both home and business users. With Microsoft 365, users can access their documents, emails, and files from anywhere, making it a convenient and flexible solution.

On the other hand, Office 2021 is a standalone, one-time purchase of the Office Apps like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Unlike the subscription-based Microsoft 365, Office 2021 is sold as a perpetual license, meaning that users pay a one-time fee to own the software. This makes it a suitable option for those who prefer a traditional licensing model and do not require frequent updates or access to online services.

With the distinction between Microsoft 365 and Office 2021 clarified, let's explore some exciting changes coming to Office 365 in 2023 that will enhance productivity and improve the user experience. These changes include the introduction of a new Microsoft 365 app, enhancements to Microsoft Teams flyout, the addition of video filters in Teams meetings, and the retirement of the Wiki feature in Teams channels.


What is Office 2021?

Office 2021 is a cloud-based suite of apps centered around business productivity. Within this license SKU, customers will receive Office Apps like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Unlike the other subscription license models, Office 2021 is sold as a one-time purchase that is available for both PC's and Macs. 

The main caveat to this license is that there are no upgrades included with your purchase which means that if a new version of the software rolls out, you will have to purchase the license at full price again. 


What is Microsoft 365? 

Microsoft 365 is the Microsoft Office Suite and/or email in the cloud. We’re referring to the cloud-enabled versions of Microsoft Office productivity applications, plus email and additional online services for both home and business. All Microsoft 365 plans are paid for on a subscription basis. Microsoft 365 for Business plans include various combinations of popular Microsoft Office applications, as well as other online services.

Learn more about how get the most of out your Microsoft 365 licenses.

Changes to Office 365 - 2023 UPDATE 

With technology constantly advancing, Microsoft is always striving to enhance its Office 365 suite. As we approach the new year, exciting changes are on the horizon for Office 365 in 2023 that will boost productivity and enhance the user experience. From the introduction of a new app to the retirement of outdated features, this blog post will provide you with all the essential details about the upcoming transformations. So sit back, relax, and delve into the exciting changes that await!

Microsoft 365 app announced in January 2023

In January 2023, Microsoft released a new app that promises to improve the overall experience of Office 365 users. The new app is called Microsoft 365 and it offers a range of features that make it easier for users to access their documents, emails, and other files.

One of the key advantages of the Microsoft 365 app is its streamlined interface. It presents all your tools in one place, making it easy to navigate between different applications without having multiple windows open at once. Additionally, you have access to advanced search capabilities that allow you to quickly find any file or document within seconds.

Another advantage offered by this new application is its collaboration feature which allows team members working on shared documents or projects from different devices and locations – desktops, laptops or mobile -to collaborate seamlessly using real-time updates.

The introduction of Microsoft 365 marks an exciting change in how we use Office 365 applications and brings us closer towards achieving seamless productivity across our digital platforms.

Microsoft Teams Flyout Enhancements

Microsoft Teams Flyout Enhancements launched in 2023 and promised to improve the user experience for Teams users. With these enhancements, users will be able to access more features without leaving their current screen. This means that multitasking will be even easier than before!

One of the most exciting features of Microsoft Teams Flyout Enhancements is the ability to start a new conversation from anywhere in the app. This means that you can quickly send a message or start a video call with your team members without having to navigate through different screens.

Additionally, Microsoft Teams Flyout Enhancements will also allow users to see more information about their contacts directly from the flyout menu. You'll be able to view their availability status, recent activity and contact details all in one place.

Another useful feature is that you'll be able to manage your notifications from within the flyout menu as well. You can choose which notifications you want to receive and how often you want them delivered.

These enhancements are going make using Microsoft Teams even smoother and more efficient than it already is!

Video Filters in Teams Meetings

One exciting change announced to Office 365 in 2023 is the addition of video filters in Teams meetings. This feature allows users to personalize their video calls by adding various filters such as sepia, sketch, and even custom backgrounds.

With more people working remotely than ever before, it's important for virtual meetings to feel engaging and interactive. Video filters can help break up the monotony of staring at a screen all day while also allowing individuals to express themselves creatively.

In addition, this feature can also come in handy during presentations or webinars where visual aids are key. Adding a filter can draw attention to specific points on a slide or simply make the presentation more visually appealing.

Video filters are an exciting addition that will enhance the user experience for those using Teams for virtual meetings or presentations.

Wiki retirement and the future of note taking in Teams Channels

In a surprising move, Microsoft has recently revealed their plans to phase out the beloved Wiki feature in Teams channels. This decision has left many users feeling uneasy, as they have come to rely on the Wiki for seamless notetaking and collaboration within their Teams channels.

However, fear not, as Microsoft is already working on a new solution that will replace the Wiki. In fact, they have already released a preview of this new feature called "Fluid Components". The Fluid Framework allows for real-time co-authoring across apps and services without having to switch between them.

This means that instead of relying solely on a single Wiki document for note-taking, team members will be able to collaborate on multiple documents at once using Fluid components. These components can be embedded into Teams conversations or other Office apps like Word and Outlook.

The future of note-taking in Teams Channels looks promising with the introduction of Fluid Components. It provides an easy way for teams to work collaboratively while maintaining productivity by allowing seamless integration with other Office apps.

In addition to this new feature replacement, there are also many third-party applications available that integrate seamlessly with Teams such as Evernote or OneNote which provide more extensive note-taking capabilities beyond what was offered by the retired wiki function.

Microsoft 365 ends for Windows 8.1

If you're a Windows 8.1 user and rely on Microsoft 365, it's time to upgrade your operating system. Starting in January 2023, Microsoft will no longer support Microsoft 365 on Windows 8.1 devices.

This means that if you continue using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 8.1 device after the end of support date, you may experience compatibility issues or security vulnerabilities that could compromise your data and personal information.

To avoid these risks, it's recommended that you upgrade to Windows 10 or later before January 2023. Upgrading to the latest version of Windows not only ensures continued access to important software like Microsoft Office applications but also provides enhanced features and security updates for an improved user experience.

While upgrading may seem like a daunting task for some users, there are many resources available from both Microsoft and third-party providers that can help make the transition smoother. Don't wait until it's too late - start planning your upgrade today to ensure uninterrupted access to essential productivity tools with Microsoft 365!

OneDrive attachments changing

OneDrive, a widely used cloud-based storage solution, is undergoing some exciting changes in 2023 that will revolutionize how users interact with their files.

In a groundbreaking update, Microsoft is transforming the way OneDrive links are shared via email. Instead of attaching files directly, OneDrive attachments will now be replaced with shared links to specific documents or folders stored on OneDrive.

This innovative approach eliminates the need for creating duplicate copies of files across various platforms. When you share a file through email using OneDrive, it won't clutter your mailbox with additional copies. Instead, it attaches a link, promoting efficient collaboration and reducing unnecessary clutter.

Imagine the convenience of sending multiple emails with the same attachment without worrying about space constraints. By simply sharing one link, you eliminate the need for multiple copies, enhancing teamwork and streamlining workflows.

These changes reflect Microsoft's commitment to enhancing user experience within Microsoft 365. Embracing this new approach to OneDrive attachments allows for seamless file sharing, improved efficiency, and enhanced collaboration among teams.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates as Microsoft continues to innovate and enhance its suite of products and services to meet the evolving needs of its valued customers.


Extra OneDrive storage for Microsoft 365 customers

Microsoft has made some exciting changes to Office 365 in 2023, and one update that will surely delight Microsoft 365 customers is the additional OneDrive storage. This enhancement is a game-changer for those who heavily rely on OneDrive and require more space to store their files.

With this remarkable update, Microsoft 365 customers will now enjoy an extra 1 terabyte of storage space on OneDrive. This significant increase in storage capacity allows users to effortlessly save their documents, photos, videos, and other crucial files.

This new feature brings a multitude of benefits, enabling users to work more efficiently without any concerns about running out of space or having to delete important files that may be needed in the future. Moreover, having access to ample storage empowers users to effortlessly store larger file sizes.

It's truly commendable when a company upgrades its offerings to demonstrate its commitment to meeting its customers' needs. Microsoft's decision to provide this additional storage reaffirms their dedication to delivering excellent products and services.

The extra OneDrive storage for Microsoft 365 customers is an invaluable addition that will be highly appreciated by many. In a world where vast amounts of data are generated every day, having sufficient space to securely store all your important files is absolutely essential. And now, with this update, you'll have even more room to safeguard your valuable information.



Microsoft Partner Benefits

Microsoft Partner Benefits are a set of perks and incentives that Microsoft offers to its partners who resell or recommend Office 365 and other Microsoft products. These benefits include access to tools, training, support, marketing resources, and discounts on software licenses.

One of the most significant benefits of being a Microsoft partner is the ability to offer co-branded solutions with Microsoft. Partners can use their own branding alongside Microsoft's logos in sales pitches and marketing materials. This gives them credibility in the market and helps them stand out from competitors.

Another benefit is access to exclusive technical support from Microsoft experts. Partners can also take advantage of training programs such as webinars, workshops, online courses and certifications that help them stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends.

In addition to these benefits, partners can also get discounted pricing on licenses for various products like Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5 or Office Professional Plus. They may also be eligible for additional incentives based on their performance levels like revenue growth or customer satisfaction scores.

Being a Microsoft partner provides many opportunities for businesses looking to expand their reach in the tech industry. With access to a wide range of resources and support, it’s no wonder why so many choose this path towards success!

Meeting Recap on Outlook on the web

Outlook on the web is a popular tool for scheduling and conducting meetings. However, there are times when attendees may miss some of the important details discussed during these meetings. That's where Meeting Recap comes in.

Meeting Recap is a feature within Outlook on the web that automatically sends a recap email to all attendees after the meeting has ended. This email includes a summary of what was discussed, any action items assigned, and links to any important documents or resources shared during the meeting.

This feature is particularly useful for those who were unable to attend due to conflicting schedules or other reasons. It allows them to stay up-to-date with what was covered in the meeting without having to rely on second-hand information from colleagues.

Additionally, Meeting Recap can also be valuable for those who did attend but may have missed certain points or details. Instead of frantically taking notes and trying not to miss anything while participating in the discussion, they can focus their attention on actively engaging and then refer back to the recap email later if needed.

In short, Meeting Recap helps ensure that everyone stays informed about what happened during a meeting so they can follow up accordingly and stay productive.

IPv6 coming to Azure AD

IPv6 coming to Azure AD is exciting news for Office 365 users, as it will bring a host of benefits and improvements. The newer version of the Internet Protocol (IPv6) offers better security, improved network performance, and increased capacity compared to its predecessor IPv4.

With IPv6 support in Azure AD, businesses can enjoy faster connections and reduced latency when accessing cloud applications. It also provides more efficient routing over the internet with better end-to-end connectivity between devices.

Azure AD's existing features such as conditional access policies can be enhanced with IPv6 support by enabling administrators to apply policy settings based on IP address version. This feature ensures that only authorized devices are allowed access, leading to tighter security control of company data.

In summary, the introduction of IPv6 in Azure AD marks another step forward in Microsoft's commitment towards improving user experience while providing world-class security measures. With this update comes an array of possibilities that benefit both IT teams and end-users alike - making for a more seamless online experience across all connected devices.

External File Request in SharePoint Document Library

As we have seen, Microsoft Office 365 is constantly evolving and improving to better meet the needs of its users. From new app releases to feature upgrades in Teams Meetings, OneDrive, and Outlook on the web, there are a lot of exciting changes coming in 2023.

One such change is the introduction of external file request in SharePoint Document Library. This feature will allow users to easily send a request for files that are not already stored within their organization's SharePoint site. With this improvement, collaborating with partners or vendors becomes more seamless and efficient than ever before.

As always with Microsoft products, these updates can take some time getting used to. But with training resources available through both online tutorials and dedicated support teams from Microsoft Partners like us here at [Company Name], your team will be up-to-speed on all the latest features quickly.

We hope this overview has given you an idea of what changes you can expect as we move towards 2023 with Office 365. At [Company Name], we're excited about these advancements and look forward to helping our clients make full use of them for greater productivity and success.


Compare Microsoft 365 Subscription with Office 2021 



Office 2021- One Time Purchase

Microsoft 365 Subscription - Monthly Subscription


Pay a single one-time cost 

Pay monthly fee or save by paying for annual subscription

Office Applications

Get Office apps like Excel, Word, and PowerPoint

Get the latest Office Apps and receive upgrades on standard and security features

Feature Updates

Upgrades are not included in this license 

Always receive the latest features and updates as well as bug fixes and security upgrades. 



Types of Microsoft 365 License Agreements 


Microsoft Open Licensing

Designed primarily for small-to-medium organizations, Open Programs allows customers to acquire perpetual or subscription licenses and, at the customer's election, rights to future versions of software products over a specified time period. Open Programs have several variations to fit customers' diverse ways of purchasing. Under the Open License Program, customers can acquire licenses only or licenses with software assurance. They can also renew software assurance upon the expiration of existing volume licensing agreements.


Microsoft Cloud Agreement 

This type of agreement is designed for transactional licensing for commercial, government, and academic organizations with one or more users/devices seeking to fully outsource the management of their cloud services through CSP. CSPs offer an easy way to license the cloud services you need through the Microsoft Cloud Agreement in combination with the value-added services offered by your systems integrator, hosting partner, or born-in-the cloud reseller partner.


Microsoft Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) 

The Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) is a program targeted to service providers and independent software vendors (ISVs) allowing these partners to provide software services and hosted applications to their end customers. Agreements are generally structured with a three-year term and partners are billed monthly based on consumption. 


Microsoft Enterprise Agreement Licensing (EA) 

Enterprise agreements are targeted at medium and large organizations that want to acquire licenses to Online services and/or software products, along with software assurance, for all or substantial parts of their enterprise. Enterprises can elect to either acquire perpetual licenses or select non-perpetual licenses under the Enterprise Subscription Program. 


Agreement Type Comparison Chart


Microsoft 365 License Guide

Now that you have a brief understanding of the different types of license agreements, lets dive into the types of licenses that fall within the Microsoft 365 category starting with Microsoft 365 Business and then moving on to Microsoft 365 Enterprise. 


Microsoft 365 Business License



License Type Pricing Features 

Microsoft 365 Business Basic 

$5.00 per user/per month 

Includes web and mobile versions of Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote. Host email with a 50 GB mailbox 

Microsoft 365 Business Standard

$11.50 per user/ per month 

Includes desktop versions of Office apps for PC and Mac. Also includes the Microsoft bookings feature to manage your business. 

Microsoft 365 Business Premium

$19.50 per user/ per month 

Includes advanced security features not included in other license sku's. Also includes device management features to let you automatically deploy Office apps to Windows 11 or 10 PCs.

Microsoft 365 Apps for business (add-on)

$8.25 per user/ per month

- Desktop versions of Microsoft 365 apps with premium features
- 1 TB of cloud storage per user
- Standard security
Anytime phone and web support


Note: Each license type listed above is available for annual subscription and autorenewals 

Optional Additional Add-ons for Microsoft 365 

  • Audio Conferencing: Gain the ability to join a Microsoft Teams meeting on the go, without an internet connection

  • Business Voice: Add Microsoft Teams phone, a cloud-based phone system with advanced features including call transfer, multilevel auto attendants, and call queues

  • Windows 365: Securely stream your Windows experience - including apps, content, and settings- from the Microsoft Cloud to any device

See how to take complete control of your Microsoft 365 with Managed Services.


Microsoft 365 Enterprise


License Type Pricing Features

Microsoft 365 E3 

$30.00 per user/ per month

Receive all Microsoft 365 apps combined with core security and compliance capabilities for your enterprise. 

Microsoft 365 E5 

$52.00 per user/ per month

Gain Azure Active Directory Premium Plan and advanced analytical tools like Power BI Pro 

Microsoft 365 F3 

$7.25 per user/ per month

Formerly known as Microsoft 365 F1. Receive productivity apps and cloud services that allow them to do their best work. 


Download Comparison Table


What are the benefits of Microsoft 365? 

Microsoft 365 is the office productivity suite that is most utilized by small to medium businesses and enterprises worldwide. Listed below are the benefits of Microsoft 365: 

  • Cost Savings: Microsoft 365 is a bundled cloud service and costs less than typical on-premise solutions

  • Security: Microsoft has placed a great amount of focus on the security of its software applications 

  • Minimal Maintenance: Through automatic updates and upgrades there is very minimal maintenance that your IT admin will have to do to maintain your licenses

  • Mobile Compatibility: Microsoft 365 gives users access to their applications from any device connected to the internet

  • Solutions Integrations: Through seamless integrations, Microsoft 365 can be used on any users devices 

  • User Community: Microsoft 365 had a large user community, so information on best practices is only a web search away.

    See our article about best Microsoft Office 365 backup solutions comparison guide  [2021].

Why You Should Work With a Microsoft Solutions Partner

Microsoft Office 2023 and the new products it brings are sure to revolutionize the way we work. From improved security features to streamlined user experiences, this latest release is set to make our working lives more efficient than ever before.

However, if you want to get the most out of these exciting updates, it's crucial that you work with a Microsoft Solutions Partner. These experts will have an in-depth knowledge of both Azure and Azure Lighthouse and can help ensure that your organization is fully prepared for all of the changes coming its way.

By partnering with such a company, you'll be able to take advantage of customized solutions tailored specifically for your business needs. Plus, they'll provide ongoing support long after implementation has taken place.

So don't wait - start exploring what a Microsoft Solutions Partner can do for your organization today!

A Managed Service Provider Will Save You Money and Improve Efficiency

Partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) to manage your organization's Microsoft 365 needs is not only a smart choice, but it could also save you money and improve efficiency.

Firstly, MSPs offer cost-effective solutions for managing your technology. They provide flexible pricing plans that can be customized according to your specific business requirements. This means that you'll only pay for the services that you need and nothing more.

Secondly, by outsourcing your Microsoft 365 management tasks to an MSP, you free up valuable time and resources within your organization. You no longer have to worry about hiring IT staff or training existing employees on how to manage the software since the MSP takes care of everything from installation and updates to troubleshooting issues.

Moreover, MSPs are experts in their field and use industry best practices when managing their clients' technology. They have access to the latest tools, technologies, and security measures which ensures optimal performance of Microsoft 365 while reducing downtime due to technical issues.

Partnering with an experienced MSP can help organizations streamline their operations by providing cost-effective solutions while improving overall efficiency. With reduced costs and increased productivity comes growth opportunities for businesses looking towards long-term success.

Next Steps? Contact Datalink Networks

Take the first step towards the cloud revolution and reach out to Datalink Networks today. As a trusted Microsoft gold partner, Datalink Networks is committed to helping your organization make the most of your Microsoft investment. They will conduct a thorough audit of your Microsoft 365 tenant and optimize your environment to ensure optimal performance. Don't wait any longer, contact them now and embark on the journey of transforming your cloud environment!





Contact Datalink Networks

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