Microsoft 365 Licenses
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In this course, we go over the objectives of the MS-900 Microsoft 365 Fundamentals exam.

Learning Objectives

  • Describe cloud concepts
  • Describe core Microsoft 365 services and concepts
  • Explain Security, Compliance, Privacy, and Trust in Microsoft 365
  • Describe Microsoft 365 pricing and support

Intended Audience

  • Users new to Microsoft 365
  • Users preparing for the MS-900 Microsoft 365 Fundamentals exam


To get the most out of this course, you should have an understanding of general technical concepts.


Microsoft 365 currently comes in one of four different flavors: Microsoft 365 Home or Personal, Microsoft 365 for Business, Microsoft 365 for Enterprise, or Microsoft 365 for Education. The main focus of the MS-900 exam are the Business and Enterprise licenses, so I'll only be covering those here. Starting off with the business licenses, these are meant for organizations with up to 300 users and in order of costs includes Business Basic, Apps for Business, Business Standard, and Business Premium. 

Business Basic only provides access to the web applications including Exchange Online and SharePoint, and it's the cheapest in terms of cost. Apps for Business is a slight step up in costs, but provides all of the desktop applications, and can be thought of as a typical office subscription that you're most likely already used to without all the bells and whistles of the other licenses. Business Standard is more expensive than that and includes everything in the prior tiers, but gains additional functionality and teams and the addition of Microsoft Bookings. And the highest tier of the business licenses is Business Premium, which takes everything from the lower tiers and adds in security and device management tools like Microsoft Defender and Intune. 

Now, the enterprise licensing is for organizations with more than 300 users and varies a little bit more than the tiered subscriptions, and these are F3, E3, and E5. F3 is the least expensive subscription and is meant for frontline workers. It provides access to all of Office, including Planner, some of the power platform tools, the security and compliance center, and an Azure Active Directory P1 plan. E3 is a step up from that and adds Viva insights and additional security features like retention policies and Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. And E5 is best remembered by simply assuming that it has all the bells and whistles including all of the Microsoft Defender tools and is the only tier that automatically has Power BI pro and the Azure Active Directory premium P2 plan as that will come up in the exam. 

Now that we have covered the biggest differences in licenses, let's talk about Microsoft service level agreement and the levels of support they offer businesses. This is the agreement that lays out Microsoft's commitment to maintain a specific level of service for its Microsoft 365 services. For example, Microsoft offers a 99.9% uptime on Microsoft Teams, which is outlined in the service level agreement. The SLA is standard for all services; however, the support structure varies depending upon the license you own and the severity of the issue, which can be medium, high, or critical. For business licenses like Business Basic, Standard, or Premium, a medium or high severity issue is available for support during business hours and has no response time commitment, whereas a critical severity issue is available for support 24/7 and has a one-hour response time commitment from Microsoft. 

Enterprise licensing all offer some variation of 24-hour support with an increasingly shorter response time per level of severity. A Medium severity issue is available for support 24/7 and has a four-hour response time commitment. A High severity issue is available for support 24/7 and has a two hour response time commitment. And a Critical Severity issue is available for support 24/7 and has a one-hour response time commitment. Generally, when recalling this information, it's easiest to remember that all enterprise licensing has some variation of 24-hour support, while the business variant of 24-hour support only applies to critical severity issues. And finally, we need to talk about Cloud Solution Providers. These are partners that assist and manage your organization's M365 subscription and they come in two different flavors being either direct or indirect. 

You may have guessed from the names, but the direct model connects you directly with the CSP and the indirect model has a middleman between you and the service provider. Becoming a direct partner is much more difficult as it requires infrastructure to maintain those licenses while becoming an indirect partner has significantly less restriction. The benefits of this program are varied, but since the CSP is selling and managing your licenses, organizations get the support they need while CSPs get to increase their revenue opportunities And that's a quick overview of the CSP program. If you need more clarification on anything in this lecture, you can check out the Microsoft 365 license structure course in the MS-900 learning path.


About the Author
Learning Paths

Lee has spent most of his professional career learning as much as he could about PC hardware and software while working as a PC technician with Microsoft. Once covid hit, he moved into a customer training role with the goal to get as many people prepared for remote work as possible using Microsoft 365. Being both Microsoft 365 certified and a self-proclaimed Microsoft Teams expert, Lee continues to expand his knowledge by working through the wide range of Microsoft certifications.