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First introduced at Microsoft Inspire 2017 in July, Microsoft 365 Business became generally available, worldwide on Wednesday.
Microsoft 365 Business is designed as a single solution, purpose-built for small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). The new offering is powered by Office 365 and Windows 10, and includes device management and security features for data protection.
Included in Wednesday’s announcement are three new business apps — Microsoft Connections, Listings and Invoicing. These new apps are in addition to Microsoft Bookings, Outlook Customer Manager, and MileIQ – which now includes intelligence to automatically classify drives as business or personal – already in Office 365. These applications are available in Microsoft Business 365 and Office 365 Business Premium in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada. Microsoft StaffHub, an app to help Firstline Workers manage their workdays, also is part of Microsoft Business 365 and Office 365 Business Premium.
Microsoft partner Dave Gerstenmaier, director of technical services at Lighthouse Technology Partners in Greenwich, Connecticut, is excited about the security-first strategy that the software giant took with Microsoft 365 Business.
“Typically, Office 365 services didn’t come with deep security considerations, it being mostly a productivity suite. With Microsoft 365 Business, they’ve bundled in the best of their Enterprise Mobility + Security suite,” he told us, adding that Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Security product didn’t get as much traction as Office 365.
Too bad, because Gerstenmaier says the security product is excellent, providing multiple layers of protection. Integrating the product into the new Microsoft 365 Business subscription makes it a terrific value-add.
“Now, a customer would be hard-pressed, for $20 per user, per month, to find anything that would resemble not only the productivity suite but the security that you get in that subscription,” he said.
Getting back to the new applications, here’s a closer look: Microsoft Connections is an email marketing tool; Listings helps customers find your business online in places such as Facebook, Google, Bing, and Yelp; and Invoicing generates professional-looking estimates and also invoices customers, which can be paid online by adding a PayPal link.
The additional three apps also new to Microsoft Business 365 are: Bookings, to help schedule and manage customer appointments; Outlook Customer Manager, which tracks customers within Outlook; and MileIQ, which reports mileage and automatically creates a record of it.
Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president of worldwide channels and programs at Microsoft, wrote in a blog that Microsoft 365 Business is a great new product for partners, and a way to offer an integrated business product suite to their SMB customers.
“It brings together the power and familiarity of our best-in-class business productivity and collaboration tools, enterprise-grade device management and security capabilities, and simplified device deployment and user setup.” She also pointed out that partners can add value to a sale by layering additional services on top of Microsoft 365.
“With Microsoft 365 Business, it makes it easier for partners to add value to a managed-services bundle around the new offering,” he said. “Those security features are not something that you set and forget — they need to be managed. So, it opens up an opportunity for partners to more easily add value to a subscription,” he said.
“It essentially lays the groundwork to be a fully unified communications platform and a fully unified security platform that you can manage from one pane of glass.”
Lighthouse Technology Partners helps businesses in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and beyond migrate to the cloud, particularly the hybrid cloud.