Microsoft 365 is Awesome/Weird

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In the case of Office Suites that also offer robust email services and generous storage, it’s really hard to beat Microsoft 365. There are lots more reasons to use it and love it, but man, sometimes it can be just a confusing mess.

I joined quite some time ago, after having managed an IMAP server on my own, then various forwarding and cheap services like Fastmail. Exchange Online offered far more than any competitor had at the time: Shared contacts, calendars and email based on the fairly robust Exchange architecture you would have seen on premise at any midsized organization. Additionally, it did it at a price point that mere mortals, like me, could afford. $4 a user a month. For my wife and I, it was a great deal for the features.

Fast forward to today, and Microsoft 365 is a juggernaut. Having expanded their reach and offerings to a massive number of services and tools. I’m still humbly using the Exchange Online plan, even now, but I periodically check to see if I’m getting the best deal for my money. Which is where the weirdness comes in.

You see, if you don’t opt for the cozy little “Enterprise” license tiers, like E1, 2 or 3, then you’re going to lose out on some features that come with the packages. For some services, that’s fine, but others… it’s not so straight-forward. For instance: When you have Exchange Online, you can upgrade to a Microsoft 365 Business Basic plan for only a dollar more and get access to Teams, Web-Office and 1TB of OneDrive storage. This clashes against the home version which you pay $99.99 a year and get 6 licenses to local and web versions of Office the 1TB of storage (for each user), and some other tools — but no hosted email.

I kind of get the idea that they want more home users to sign up, and making an attractive package for everyone in their household to get loaded up with Office is a good deal for them. However, what if I also want my own domain hosted email? Well, you’re out of luck… or you pay for Exchange Online in addition to the yearly fee. If I want to do something similar in Microsoft 365 proper, I end up paying $12.50 a month per user. Yeah, not a great deal.

Maybe I’m doing something wrong here. I just want to have my own copy of Office for the family, not having to use my school copy… If anyone knows how this works, or how it should work, let me know.

By Nathan DeGruchy

IT Support extraordinaire. FOSS lover and proud Husband and Father.

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