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20 April 2017

A guide to Microsoft 365 licensing

Mathew Richards

Get answers to the most common Microsoft 365 licensing questions and uncover the suite's value.

At ThirdSpace, we speak to many organisations looking to harness the benefits of digital solutions to free their workforce from the shackles of the past. Solutions that enable employees to work and collaborate from anywhere, at any time and on any device, with simple and secure access to the applications and information they need to boost their productivity.

In parallel, as more information, devices and users travel beyond the traditional network restraints, every organisation needs to place security at the forefront of a modern workforce strategy.


Microsoft 365: Your questions answered

Since its launch in 2017, we’ve heard many questions from our customers about what Microsoft 365 offers. Here we provide answers to four of the most common…

1. What is Microsoft 365 all about?

Microsoft 365 Enterprise is a licensing option that effectively bundles Windows 10 Enterprise, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security technologies into a single offering. It comes in two variants: Microsoft 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E5. It can be purchased per user, and you can make a significant cost saving purchasing this way versus buying the products individually.

There are several other nuances, in terms of how you can buy Microsoft 365; e.g. through which licensing program and how much it will cost you. The answers to these questions will largely depend on your organisation’s requirements and your current licensing position with Microsoft.

For more details on the licensing specifics of Microsoft 365, you can read Microsoft’s at-a-glance licensing guide.

2. Is Microsoft 365 just SPE under a different name?

The Microsoft Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE) has effectively become Microsoft 365 Enterprise and includes the following core products and services:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise (E3 & E5)
  • Office 365 (E3 & E5)
  • Enterprise Mobility + Security (E3 & E5)

3. What is Enterprise Mobility + Security?

Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) is simply what was the Enterprise Mobility Suite. The name change reflects the significant number of security products and services that have been added to this solution since the launch of EMS.

4. So, is Microsoft 365 just a licensing bundle?

Microsoft 365 can just be a licensing bundle, if that’s all you want it to be. But it is also much more…

There is so much technology in Microsoft 365 (and Microsoft is adding to it all the time) that it can be hard to keep up.

From a licensing perspective, Microsoft 365 includes cloud and on-premises licensing entitlements to help organisations who plan to transition to the cloud over time, allowing Software Assurance customers to install Office Professional Plus and Office 365 Professional Plus on up to five devices per user for the length of the subscription.

You also get the on-premises server rights for SharePoint, Exchange and Skype for Business thrown in.

For an at-a-glance view of the current technologies in Microsoft 365 E3 and E5, you can view our snapshot guide.



There is so much technology in Microsoft 365 that we simply don’t have time to go through each of them in a single blog post.

In our next blog, we examine each of the core elements (Windows 10, Office 365 and EMS) in turn, and focus on the exciting security technologies that enable you to protect, detect and react to cyber security threats, with an aim to answering the common question: “Why would I need E5 over E3?”

And don’t forget to watch our conditional access and MFA webinar on-demand. Discover why these technologies are key to securing your organisation’s assets.

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Mathew Richards
Head of Mobility & Security
Learn More
Award-winning solutions Award-winning solutions

Eight-time winner of the Microsoft Partner of the Year Award for Identity Management, Enterprise Mobility, Security and Compliance.


Welcome to ThirdSpace, the new home (and new name) for Oxford Computer Group UK.

Oxford Computer Group UK officially rebranded as ThirdSpace in the UK on 16 October. This rebrand reflects our broadening identity and security solutions, as working practices extend from the office and home into working flexibly and collaboratively from anywhere – Your "ThirdSpace".

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