Microsoft recently announced its newest offering: Microsoft 365. Wait a minute! Office 365 has been around for years, right? Yeah, that’s true, but Microsoft 365 is the next incarnation of Microsoft’s cloud solution. It includes all of the great features found in Office 365, and couples them with Windows 10 and the security bundle Enterprise Mobility + Security (EM+S). This is huge. For years, Microsoft relied on the perpetual licensing model. You buy a license and then pay for upgrades as they come out or as you decide to upgrade. It worked…but every few years organizations could see large expenditures to purchase a newer version of Windows Server or Microsoft Exchange. The new subscription model makes a lot more sense: low monthly costs on a per-user basis doesn’t hit the pocket book quite as hard.

Sure, subscriptions aren’t anything new for those of us in Office 365 already, but the real kicker here is getting Windows 10 under the same type of billing. This could be a game changer for many businesses out there. Win10 is designed to be more secure. It’s updated often to keep it secure. Major updates such as the recent Creators Update are pushed out in an efficient fashion keeping your users current. Layer EM+S on top of that and you have enterprise-level security for your users. In this age of cyberattacks, that is real peace-of-mind.

Is this going to work for everyone? No. Nothing ever is a ‘one size fits all’. For many, though, I think that this will be a breath of fresh air. It will provide some balance to IT budgets. It may be the mechanism for some businesses to upgrade users without spending too much upfront. For businesses under 300 users, the projected monthly cost is very reasonable and a small increase over the monthly fee paid by current Office 365 Business Premium customers. “So, the increased cost only adds Windows 10?”some of you may say. The answer is ‘no’. Additional products will be available: ‘Microsoft Connections’ – an email marketing service; ‘Microsoft Listings’ – publish your business info on top sites; ‘Microsoft Invoicing’ – a tool to create professional invoices; ‘MileIQ’ – a mileage tracking app; and ‘Office 365 Business Center’ – a central hub for managing business apps. These feature add-ons may become key tools for new and existing customers.

What about larger enterprises (more than 300 users)? Well, Microsoft 365 comes in two flavors: Business and Enterprise. Whether you are an existing E3 or E5 customer in Office 365, or evaluating a move to the cloud, you can benefit from savings by adopting a subscription model for your Windows 10 licensing. Another key benefit of subscription licensing for Windows is that it’s easier to control the number of installs in your enterprise. With a traditional volume license model, as in an Enterprise Agreement, you can easily over-provision your Windows licenses by installing too many copies. The activation key is available and installations can’t always be controlled. With subscription licensing, the installation is tied to the user account and a finite amount of concurrent installs is allowed for each user. If a user maxes out, they must uninstall a copy elsewhere before proceeding. Most of us in IT hate managing licensing, so this feature is a welcomed addition.

In part, this is why the announcement of Microsoft 365 really is a game changer. Businesses of all sizes truly should be applauding this announcement. Subscription-based licensing for operating systems will definitely empower organizations that may not (for whatever reason) currently be in a position to move forward and will make life easier for other existing Office 365 customers that want to continue with the migration away from perpetual licensing.