How to choose the right Office license
IT News

License to thrill!

Microsoft Office offers excellent capabilities when it comes to communication, document creation and general productivity. It’s a suite absolutely crammed full of various tools, some of which are small and lightweight, others which are behemoths in the productivity ecosystem. Because of this broad variety, not every user will require access to the same set of tools. This is where a choice of licenses can be beneficial in allowing you to decide what you pay for. If you don’t need over the top programs with all the bells and whistles, yet require the core tools to allow your business to function, then there’s a license for that.

One criticism of the licensing system is that whilst it offers plenty of variety, it can sometimes be murky and confusing when it comes to clearly defining the differences between each licensing system. This can be important, as certain features won’t be available for every type of license. Additionally, licensing is also based against the size of your business, so again, you’ll need to make sure you’re purchasing the license that matches your needs, as well as the size of your business or enterprise. It should be noted however, that this won’t restrict your ability to buy Enterprise licenses – many small to medium businesses can and do buy Enterprise licenses as they have some incredibly useful tools within them. You may find that in actual fact, certain compliance or functionality requirements may force your hand into purchasing an Enterprise licenses regardless.

Business vs Enterprise?

The two main options for Office licenses come in the form of business and enterprise licenses. The two are very similar, but as you can imagine, the enterprise licenses cater for a larger business with over 300 users within it. The actual tool set you will find within these licenses is actually rather similar, but with the enterprise licenses it does of course cater to a larger business and with that, the benefits that it brings (user management, etc.).


The Business licensing offers a wide range of tools, as well as flexibility dependent on the size of your business and requirements. You can choose from Business, Business Essentials & Business Premium.


The Enterprise choices are as follows: E1, E3 & E5. One of the more common licenses is the E3 license. This is the middle of the road choice for enterprise users, but tends to be the sweet spot for many business for price and capabilities.

With the exception of the Business Essentials license, which simply offers a bare bones Office experience, these licenses should allow you to get an expected amount of functionalities from Office. This includes email, as well as web versions (at least) of the core Office products (Word, Excel, PowerPoint). Sometimes it can be a bit of a minefield trying to decide what license you need and which users need what. This is why Microsoft try and provide clarity over the differences. For a full breakdown of the licensing options for Office, see this guide. Alternatively, you can always contact BCS and we will point you in the right direction!

If you want some further advice on which Office license is best for your business, you can contact us on 01843 572 600 or email