A design depicting Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs E3

Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs E3, and One Powerful Tool in Both That Will Revolutionize Your IT9 Min Well Spent

So, you’ve decided upon Microsoft 365 and the Azure cloud for your business. Congratulations. We think you’ve made the right choice.

Now that you’ve chosen M365, it is time to pick a plan. While there are many to choose from, IT Support Guys generally manages M365’s Business Premium and E3 (enterprise) offerings.

Other plans like Business Standard and E5 have their advantages, but we find that considering Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs E3 gives companies the best package of features that are crucial for any organization.

In this post, we will cover the differences between Business Premium and Microsoft’s first enterprise offering. You may find that neither offering is for you, opting for the less expensive Business Standard plan, or the immersive E5 plan.

Keep in mind, for the purposes of this post, all references to “E3” are specific to Microsoft 365 E3. This plan is different from the legacy E3 offering, known as “Microsoft Office E3.”

If you have a question about any of these plans or want to consult our tech experts on which M365 package will move your business furthest forward, get on a call with us as soon as possible.

What is Microsoft 365?

A design depicting Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs E3

Microsoft 365 is Microsoft’s subscription productivity suite that can tie all of your favorite Microsoft Office applications together with world-class cloud capabilities and air-tight security.

M365 comes packaged in numerous different plans for home, business, and enterprise. With varying prices and features, Microsoft gives you options for what package fits your situation the best.

What is Azure cloud?

Graphic illustrating multiple computers sending data up to the Microsoft Azure cloud, a key component of Microsoft 365 Business Premium vs. E3

Azure is Microsoft’s cloud computing platform that was released in 2010, solving problems including storage, computation, and analysis of data through virtualization.

Azure offers solutions like Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS).

Cloud services allow businesses to reduce their overhead by suppressing storage costs, while also centralizing data for better file sharing, and bolstering backup and disaster recovery efforts.

What is Business Premium?

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is M365’s top offering for small to medium-sized businesses, an upgrade on its Business Basic and Business Standard offerings.

Business Premium costs $20 per user per month and comes with a 50 GB mailbox storage limit and a 1 TB storage limit in OneDrive. Only 300 Business Premium licenses can be assigned to a company before it must begin purchasing enterprise plans.

What is E3?

Microsoft 365 E3 is M365’s initial enterprise plan, coming in as the second-most loaded plan feature-wise behind E5.

E3 costs $32/user/month and comes with unlimited mailbox and OneDrive storage. There is no cap to how many company users can be on E3 plans. It also comes with some of the top security features available.

Why Business Premium and E3? – Microsoft Intune

A graphic showing connected devices to Microsoft Intune

ITSG spotlights Business Premium and E3 as favored M365 plans because they provide so many features that make your cloud experience better.

The key feature that makes these plans elite is Microsoft Intune, which controls access for mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

It also allows managers to set additional security measures on non-company devices and limits on what remote workers can access.

So why does that make Intune a gamechanger?

Anyone who has had to set up a new computer or smartphone has likely had to spend hours customizing their settings, restoring files, and remembering passwords.

Those days are in the past with Intune, which allows you to create a default image for deployment. When you set up a new computer, Intune allows you to hit the ground running without wasted time.

Paired together with Azure Active Directory, Intune eliminates the need to run your own server.

With top-shelf identity management and endpoint management in the cloud, Intune and Azure AD makes on-premise identity and endpoint management redundant.

With no hassle and no server, Intune saves time and money that you can allocate elsewhere.

If you already have a server, Intune and Azure AD are still compatible with your environment.

Additionally, with Azure sync, you can marry your on-premise and cloud servers to create a hybrid setup, the ultimate option for your IT.

Why Business Premium and E3? – What else?

Beyond Intune, there are other features available in both Business Premium and E3 that make them stand above the less-expensive plans.

Both plans come with Microsoft’s best-in-class communication hub, Teams, as well as SharePoint Online and Planner.

Both Business Premium and E3 come with Litigation Hold and eDiscovery, which are important features that protect your business from losing data that is critical to any legal proceedings. Although, Business Premium may run into storage issues if Litigation Hold is used to freeze too much data.

To review, here’s a chart that shows all the similarities and differences between the two:

Plan M365 Business Premium M365 E3
Price per user, per month $20 $32
User limit 300 Unlimited
Outlook storage 50 GB Unlimited
OneDrive storage 1 TB Unlimited
Microsoft Teams Yes Yes
SharePoint Yes Yes
Intune Yes Yes
Litigation Hold Yes Yes
eDiscovery Yes Yes
Microsoft Defender Yes No
Advanced Threat Analysis No Yes
Device Guard No Yes
Credential Guard No Yes
App Locker No Yes
Enterprise Data Protection No Yes
ECAL Suite No Yes
Office 365 through Remote Access No Yes
Azure Active Directory Yes Yes
Azure Active Directory Premium No Yes

Now, let’s look at some of what E3 has to offer that Business Premium does not.


The real value you get with E3’s price increase is its extra security features, which are expansive. E3 comes with Microsoft Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA)Credential GuardApp LockerWindows Information Protection (WIP), and the full version of Azure Active Directory.

E3 also comes with the ability to encrypt emails with the click of a button. This ensures that sensitive information is opened by the intended receiving party, who must log in with a Microsoft or business account.

A screenshot of Outlook in Microsoft 365 E3, with how to place encryption on an email.

Business Premium only comes with Microsoft Defender for Office 365 (formerly known as Advanced Threat Protection).

Let’s quickly go over just what you get with these features.

The headliner here is ATA, which is a tool that analyzes the traffic coming in and out of your network, diagnosing the behavior of entities within your organization. By learning the behavior of users and other parties accessing your data, ATA can accurately detect and alert you in the case that anything is suspicious.

Credential guard uses virtualized security to keep login credentials hidden from all software, except for programs that need them. This additional security stores data in an isolated area to reduce the chances of credential theft.

AppLocker allows managers to control which files and applications that users have access to, including executable files and installer files. This protects you internally, as user error is a leading cause of cybersecurity breaches.

Speaking of user error, Windows Information Protection prevents the accidental leak of data by employees through email, social media, and similar apps. WIP alerts users that their action will share or disclose work information before the action is confirmed. This protection becomes more crucial as employees remain remote.

Additionally, with WIP, businesses can preserve an archive after an employee leaves, while still deactivating their license.

All these features are tied together with the full version of Azure Active Directory, where you can monitor and govern your company’s entire cloud environment. The full version allows for additional features like group access management, advanced security reports, multi-factor authentication with conditional access, and more.

Business Premium’s Microsoft Defender is a cloud-based email filter that identifies malicious links and attachments before they enter your environment. Defender also identifies malicious files and links in SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Defender is enough to protect your business overall and is a good first step in securing your cloud. If you want the most protection Microsoft can offer, that will require one of their enterprise plans.

E3 and its advanced security features allow organizations to carefully balance which employees have access to perform which tasks, creating a streamlined, safe cloud environment.

Everything else

If you are not as worried about your security, consider some of the other features of E3 that you may miss out on with Business Premium.

One big perk of E3 is the ability to access the Microsoft Office suite via a remote desktop, meaning you can deploy its productivity apps to shared computers in your company.

The ability to activate shared computers remotely also comes with E3. With remote desktop services, every user on your shared computer can continue to work on their files.

Also exclusive to enterprise plans is Azure rights management, which protects data that is shared externally. When protected files are emailed to another company, the protection stays on the file.

Like Litigation Hold and eDiscovery, Azure rights management is imperative for compliance and may be required.

E3 further solidifies your compliance with data loss prevention (DLP). If your business handles sensitive, proprietary, or customer data, DLP can identify and protect it from being shared. Using “deep content analysis” and data-matching through keywords, DLP will display a pop-up notification that warns users before sharing flagged data.

Other enterprise-only features include Excel PowerPivot, and PowerQuery, as well as Infopath, an application for distributing and submitting electronic forms. In-place archiving for Exchange is also limited to enterprise.

These are just some of the additional features of E3, with more that are currently present, and more that will be added over time. If you think any of these features may be something you need, make sure to reach out to ITSG before deciding.


Microsoft 365 Business Premium gives your business everything it needs to operate and grow. That’s why we recommend it to all our customers.

Safety and security are a must for modern companies, however, and if your business is handling sensitive data or has stringent compliance regulations – E3 may be your best option.

Making this choice may not be an easy task. If you are a business larger than 300 employees, it may be a decision that is made for you.

Either way, take time to make the best decision for your company, securing the features that will keep your business humming. If you have any extra questions about which M365 plan to choose, give us a call today at 855-4IT-GUYS, or schedule a chat with our virtual CIO.

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Alex Hooper

Alex Hooper

Alex has been working with technology since receiving an Acer computer with Windows '95 for Christmas. Aside from tech fun, he can be found watching soccer and TV with his Newfoundland, or playing video games on his Raspberry Pi.

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