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Microsoft Unveils Office 365 For Business

Starting this week, Office 365 enterprise subscribers will have access to numerous new features of the productivity service, including the meeting, conferencing, and calling features of Skype for Business. Microsoft is launching its new subscription model for Office 365 tomorrow.

The highest-end plan, Office 365 E5, is priced at $35 per user per month, or $420 per user per year. Microsoft introduced Office 365 E5 today during its Convergence EMEA conference in Barcelona.

Office 365 E5 will include Skype for Business (pictured) with support for features including Cloud PBX and Meeting Broadcast, new analytics features such as Power BI Pro and Delve Organizational Analytics and enhanced security features including eDiscovery, Customer Lockbox and Safe Attachments. Power BI Pro ordinarily costs $10 per user per month. Delve Analytics helps users see how they connect with and compare to their co-workers.

Phasing Out E4

Office 365 E4, the previous top-of-the-line package, costs $22 per user per month, or $264 per user per year. E4 includes Skype for Business with Enterprise Voice and unified messaging, the full suite of locally downloadable Office apps and Power BI for Office 365. Microsoft will retire the E4 package and replace it with E5, but E4 will remain on Microsoft’s price list until June 30, 2016.

The E1 and E3 versions of Office 365 will stay at their current prices of $8 and $20 per user per month, respectively. E1 will now have new work management tools, as well as Skype for Business’s Meeting Broadcast functionality, included in the $8 fee. E3 users will get those two new features along with Equivio Analytics for eDiscovery, Secure Attachments and URLs and access control, also at no extra charge. Skype Meeting Broadcast lets users broadcast Skype for Business meetings on the Internet to up to 10,000 people, who attend via the Web browser of their choosing.

Lync Renamed

Skype for Business is a rebranded version of Microsoft’s Lync communication software, which was released earlier this year. Tomorrow’s release includes such features as a PSTN Conferencing service that lets users dial into meetings being held via Microsoft’s communication service. Office E5 subscribers also have access to a new Cloud PBX feature that lets IT administrators replace PBX systems with a cloud-based management portal.

Microsoft had previously offered PBX services via Lync and Skype for Business Server, but Cloud PBX differs in that it doesn’t require company administrators to provision and manage servers either on premises or in the cloud.

Another Office 365 offering, PSTN (public switched telephone network) Calling, lets administrators provision phone numbers for employees so that users can dial out from Skype for Business without having to pay traditional landline or VoIP phone providers. E5 subscribers will have to pay $24 per user per month for a plan that includes international and domestic calling, or $12 per user every month for a domestic-only plan.

The new Skype for Business was available in beta earlier this year, with about 4,000 organizations trying out the service.

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