Microsoft Office 365 E1 vs E3 vs E5

Microsoft Office 365 comes in three different flavors for Enterprise: E1, E3, and E5. With each successive level, you get more features — but what is included, exactly?

The short table below gives you a quick overview.

In the rest of this article, I’ll give you an introduction to each of the three versions, a more detailed comparison table, some special considerations for different industries, and a video overview.

Microsoft Office E1

O365 E1 is the “lightest” version of the Enterprise-level plans. The features included in E1 are

  • Email and Calendars via Microsoft Exchange
  • Enterprise Social with Yammer
  • Communication and team sites with SharePoint
  • OneDrive for Business with 1TB cloud storage
  • Delve for content discovery
  • StaffHub and Planner to manage daily staff tasks
  • MS Stream
  • Teams (which has adopted components and functions of Skype for Business)

Within the E1 license you also receive web versions of Office applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and Publisher.

One thing to note is that the E1 plan does not allow installation of applications on devices — for instance, laptops, smartphones, or tablets — and therefore a constant, secure Internet connection is required to use this plan for your business.

E1 Pricing: Office 365 E1 licenses cost $8/user/month USD ($10.20 CAD).*

Microsoft Office E3

Though the E3 plan is slightly more expensive than the E1 tier, the added features justify the investment. Within the O365 E3 plan, each user gets the full license and is allowed to install the applications on up to 5 desktops, 5 tablets, AND 5 smartphones.

So your remote workers or team members working from home won’t be dependent on having a good, secure Internet connection 24/7. They can stay productive wherever they are and whichever device they are on.

The E3 plan includes everything mentioned in the E1 licenses along with some extras:

  • MS Office Suite: Users will always receive the most updated versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, OneDrive for Business, Teams, Access, and Publisher.
  • Cross-Platform Installation: Users now have the benefit of installing Office applications across devices (Windows, Mac, Android, tablets, smartphones).
  • Cloud Storage: O365 E1 comes with 1TB of cloud storage for OneDrive for Business (which is more than enough in most cases). However, with O365 E3, you get 1TB by default and the ability to increase it to 5TB and even 25TB if needed.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP): DLP allows you to comply with business standards and industry regulations in terms of protecting sensitive information and preventing data leaks outside of the organization. DLP is not available in E1.

E3 also includes other data management functions like archiving, rights management, and document-level encryption, advanced emailing, access control for emails and documents, intelligent search and discovery features that allow you to easily pick up required content from Office applications, SharePoint, and Delve.

E3 Pricing: Office 365 E3 licenses cost $20/user/month USD ($26.60 CAD).

Before I get into the details of E5, let me also mention that in addition to this blog post, we’ve created a tool that can generate an Office 365 recommendation for you based on your response to a short questionnaire. It will generate a score for each of the seven different versions of Office 365, plus provide a few other things to think about. You can try it out here.

Microsoft Office E5

O365 E5 is the super-powered version of Office and is available for a small increase in cost. In my opinion, the main addition to the E5 license is the fully loaded security features and some analytic tools and voice capabilities. You get everything included in E3 along with a few more benefits:

  • Advanced Security & Information Protection: The E5 license takes measures to protect your data from threats like phishing and zero-day malware. In this way, users of E5 stay protected from threats in attachments and links. DLP assures the safety of your content.
  • Analytics Tools: E5 is the only Enterprise plan that offers analytics tools such as MyAnalytics and PowerBI Pro for data analysis and visualization.

Other additions include Advance eDiscovery, access controls and control encryption key, Advanced Threat Protection, Threat Intelligence for proactive cybersecurity and actionable insight, O365 Cloud App Security, PTSN conferencing capabilities, Advanced Data Governance and Customer Lockbox.

E5 Pricing: Office 365 E5 licenses cost $35/user/month USD ($46.60 CAD).

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Comparison of Microsoft Office E1, E3, and E5

Overall, the biggest difference between Office 365 E1 and E3 is that E3 is better for remote workers. The biggest difference between E3 and E5 is that E5 has extra security and analytics.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of pricing and the key Office 365 features for each Enterprise plan:

Feature Office E1 Office E3 Office E5
Pricing $8/user/month USD
($10.20 CAD)
$20/user/month USD
($26.60 CAD)
$35/user/month USD
($46.60 CAD)
Security
Includes Exchange Online Protection
✓✓
Adds Rights Management, Intune device management
✓✓✓
Adds Advanced Threat Protection, Customer Lockbox
Teams – IM, Voice, Video Chat
Microsoft Office Apps Online
Desktop Apps
Power BI Pro License
Email and Calendar
Power Apps and Power Automate
Yammer, Video, Sharepoint
OneDrive for Business, Delve
Backup
Includes
✓✓✓
Adds Data Loss Prevention and eDiscovery
✓✓✓
Same as E3
Compliance Features
(For specific needs, contact me.)
✓✓ ✓✓✓
How to Buy Contact us  Contact us  Contact us

 

Which One Is Right for You?

Selecting the right Office 365 version is an important step. However, keep in mind that because these are subscription licenses, you are never locked in on the licenses you choose to start with. You can downgrade or upgrade, and you can also have a mix of different licenses for the different needs of the users in your company.

Based on my experience with many customers, there are also some special considerations in different industries:

Industry Special Office 365 Plan Considerations
Education Ask a partner about O365 education discounts.
Field Service Consider E3 or E5 for your mobile workers. Reach out to me to ask about F3, F5, and specific field service licenses.
Financial Consider E3 or E5 to be sure your data is secure.
Government & Health Care Consider E5 for best security.
Manufacturing Manufacturing project managers often need Microsoft Project, but it’s no longer a default part of any O365 license. To get it, please reach out to me directly.
Natural Resources Consider E5 for the flexibility needed to handle high staff turnover.
Real Estate E3 and E5 let you work on the go, while at properties.
Startups Often start with E1 to keep costs down, but switch to E3 as they grow.

Choosing the version of Office 365 Enterprise that’s right for you is pretty simple for most companies: If you want access to the Office applications on your own devices, even when you’re not connected to the Internet, then you need E3 or E5. And you only really need E5 if you need to have advanced security features, a Power BI Pro license, or the ability to make phone calls. If you still can’t decide, look at the “Security” row in the plan comparison table above and check out the various increases in functionality. There’s a little more to it than that (see the Office 365 page for more) but those are the basics.

Also, if you have special security, compliance, or other needs that don’t fit with the E1/E3/E5 level that otherwise seems to fit your company, please contact us. We’re a gold Microsoft partner and we can help you get the exact set of features that is best for you.
 

Get Office 365 from a Microsoft Partner Dedicated to Your Success

If you have further questions, or if you’re ready to buy Office 365, contact us with the form below.

If you purchase Office 365 with Encore as a partner, you pay the same amount per license and you gain extra benefits:

  • Our experienced cloud consultants can help you with the internal challenges of deploying the cloud. This can be highly important if you’re struggling with the transition to remote work.
  • Encore provides immediate access to elevated support levels via Encore’s Tier-1 Microsoft status.

* All pricing is subject to change without notice. Contact Encore for the most current pricing.

The Office 365 Business Plans were recently renamed to Microsoft 365 plans. However, the Office 365 Enterprise plans described in this article still have the same names. Our recommendation tool evaluates your best fit across all the options, including the recently renamed ones.

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