Background: One of the challenges we face when talking about SharePoint – any version – is that there are not only several versions, but several products with SharePoint in the name. It’s not often we confuse SharePoint Workspace or SharePoint Designer for something in Foundation or Server. However when someone brings up ‘SharePoint’ it is often unclear if they are referring to SharePoint Foundation, SharePoint Server – Standard or Enterprise versions. It may seem like a simple issue, but when someone is talking about SharePoint features or solutions that are part of Enterprise, it’s important to make the distinction so that Foundation users don’t think they can do something they don’t have access to. The MNSPUG crowd has gotten pretty good at calling this out during presentations, and we are all glad for the distinction.
Now to the point of this post: A similar confusion seems to be brewing in the Office 365 space. There are several versions of Office 365 that have similar, but different feature and capability offerings – with SharePoint Online as well as Exchange Online. I haven’t seen any differences in Lync Online yet, but I haven’t used it as much as the other two yet. During the Beta, we’ve been exposed to the Small Business and Enterprise plans, with an Education offering also apparently on the way. Users need to be aware that when someone is referring to ‘Office 365’ that there can be significant differences between versions.
Most often when I hear people talking about ‘Office 365’ they are referring to the Enterprise version. While the Small Business version is certainly capable and appropriate for the target audience, it is definitely different from what is offered in the Enterprise edition.
One blog site has compiled a list of the feature differences between SharePoint Online in the Small Business Plan vs. the Enterprise Plan. There are also significant differences in the Exchange management as well, like when setting up forwarding, etc. More information will undoubtedly come out as the platform reaches public status.
More details on version capabilities and differences will come out. Just something to keep in mind for the time being.