Microsoft 365 spins off security, compliance bits from priciest plan for E3 customers

Microsoft has introduced two add-on plans for corporate customers currently relying on the not-all-of-the-kitchen-sink Microsoft 365 E3 subscription.

The new deals: “Identity & Threat Protection” and “Information Protection & Compliance.” They will be available for purchase as of 1 February.

Although Microsoft didn’t say it in so many words, both will be aimed at businesses already subscribing to the US$34 per-user per-month Microsoft 365 Enterprise E3 plan.

Exactly, said Wes Miller of Directions on Microsoft. “My inclination is that [these new offers are] a packaging tool for E3 customers who are only interested in the security side of E5 or the compliance side of E5,” Miller said.

Miller was talking about the Microsoft 365 Enterprise E5 plan, a $59 per-user per-month subscription that includes the security and compliance components slated to sell as stand-alone supplements for E3 customers.

Microsoft 365, aka M365, is the umbrella term for the relatively recent subscription – first launched in 2017 – that wraps Windows 10, Office 365 and a suite of management tools into a single package.

M365 comes in several SKUs (stock-keeping units), including M365 Enterprise, Business, Education, Nonprofit, Government and F1. That last is a less-expensive bundle meant for what Microsoft calls “frontline” workers, those who ring up sales, take calls or spend their shifts on factory floors or in the field.

Microsoft has implicitly designated M365 as the foundational cornerstone of its client-side software-as-a-service strategy. “The sales motion is really about Microsoft 365,” argued Amy Hood, Microsoft’s CFO, in answering a question posed during the last earnings call with Wall Street.

Identity & Threat Protection will include Microsoft Threat Protection, the combination of Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), Windows Defender ATP and Office 365 ATP, which serves as one of the biggest draws for E5. It also will offer other E5-only pieces, such as Microsoft Cloud App Security. Price: US$12 per-user per-month.

Meanwhile, Information Protection & Compliance will separate two more bits from E5 – Azure Information Protection and Office 365 Advance Compliance – that are core components responsible for protecting and retaining documents, as well emails and other data under government regulations. Price: $10 per-user per-month.

Miller was confident that prospective buyers would pick one or the other, but not both as the combined cost of the pair was just $3 less than the price jump from M365 Enterprise E3 and E5.

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