Signing up to Office365 #freetrial

Why not take advantage of the free trials available to you! You can choose the smaller home and small business packages or if you wish you can delve into the enterprise packages with all the bells and whistles.

Signing up takes a very short amount of time – simply go to the following link or if you are a business and looking for a trial use this (Awaiting link details) (will take you to the Comms Group UK Ltd Office 365 partner link which will allow us to assist you in your trial or answer and questions you may have).

Once you have signed up it will automatically log you onto your Office 365 trial where you will be met with your services being provisioned!



Once provisioned, you are ready to go! Download the latest version of Office, look into what Yammer can do for your business, choose from a number of setup options to fully provision and manage your cloud environment ready for your cloud/on-prem data.

Although the portal can look quite clean and basic, there are plenty of advanced options to work with, it is wise to plan any moves effectively as you will need some ‘infrastructure’ with regards to SSL certificates to properly manage a cloud/on-prem/hybrid cloud environment.

It’s a trial after all so go nuts, make stuff happen, see what settings do, best in a trial then on a live environment right?

The other thing to do would be to look at the ‘exam blueprints’ to see what deploying and administering entails so that you can look into those areas in more detail.

Free trials are a great way of working with the product, Microsoft have given us the tools, use them! 🙂


Office 365 Introduction – #guru365

Office365 has marginalised the gap between big business (enterprise) and the small to medium size businesses. For many this will increase the competitive advantage of smaller businesses, in my eyes, a fantastic opportunity to level the playing field.

SharePoint is a fantastic example of this playing field being levelled. Before the world of online SaaS – SharePoint was a huge investment, requiring dedicated servers, even farms to allow the kind of productivity that enterprise has been used to and invested in for years.

Even for enterprise there isn’t a stationary situation, Exchange Online allows enterprise to move their operationally important systems out into the cloud, allowing Microsoft to maintain and manage the hardware associated with these systems. This allows onsite technical staff to concentrate on the line of business applications and improve the productivity regard bespoke systems and settings on their infrastructure, leaving what could be seen as the mundane administration tasks of the Office infrastructure to Microsoft.

Exchange Online has been seen as one of the more popular components of Office365, one of the major advantages I see with regards to Exchange Online, you do not have the bottleneck of your broadband/internet connection. For Example, a on site hosted Exchange server requires an internet connection in order to send and recieve email, if this goes down you will need some sort of mail continuity service in order to queue mail until the internet is back online. Iin a situation where your emails are hosted in Exchange Online, you will simply need to connect a dongle or use a backup internet line to retrieve mail. Your mail will continue to flow inwards as the internet line of your business no longer effects the recieving of email to the server, just to your client, this makes a massive difference to administering and also the continuity is kind of built into Exchange Online, and even if that isn’t the case Microsoft financially back their uptime, which I’m very sure they will maintain through their excellent infrastructure.

Although setting up an Office 365 infrastructure from scratch is a fairly simple process, the migration to Office 365 can be a complicated process, depending on what you are currently using and how you wish to use Office 365. Don’t get me wrong, with reading and experience with Exchange it is fairly simple, but please don’t think this ‘Microsoft Service’ makes an Exchange Migration to the Cloud as simple as setting up an Outlook Profile. Hopefully my blog will shed some light on the ‘tricky’ parts of Office 365, ADFS appears to be one of the most commonly asked questions, which I have addressed in the ADFS section of my blog. If you do  have any further questions, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to delve into your particular question topic and answer with as much detail as I can.

Kind Regards

Steve Pothecary

Microsoft Office 365 for Small Business <25 Users (P-Plan)

Following on from the Product Comparison post I have decided to delve a little deeper into the individual offerings and offer some advice as to what would best suit your customer.

The Small Business offering is designed for companies with less than 25 users, although you may be restricted by user licenses, you are by no means restricted with the product.

The Small Business package has the following capabilities/benefits for the customer;

Email –

  • 25GB Mailbox and attachments up to 25MB
  • Shared Calendars
  • Works on Windows Phone, iPhone, Blackberry (BIS Only), and Android.

Websites –

  • Easy to build public facing website.
  • 10GB Site storage + a further 500MB per user (25x500MB = 12.5GB potentially extra)

Anywhere Access* – (an asterix is included here to highlight the fact it is an online service, so a internet connection to your chosen device is required and not a part of the agreement)

  • Share and collaborate on documents
  • Join online meetings and present from anywhere
  • Office Web Apps for light document editing

Security and Reliability –

  • Microsoft’s powerful security features help protect your data
  • 99.9% uptime guarantee
  • Password protected team sites
  • Antivirus, anti-spam.


In order to receive the above benefits you will have the following as part of your P1-Plan

  • Exchange Email, Calendar, Contacts & Personal Archive
  • 25 GB Mailbox
  • ActiveSync Mobile Support
  • SharePoint Team Sites (One Site Collection, authenticated external user access enabled for up to 50 unique users/month.)
  • Office Web Apps
  • Simple Public Website (Includes ready-to-use templates, option to add custom domain.)
  • Online Access Databases
  • Lync Rich Client
  • Online Meetings (Limited to 50 participants)
  • Desktop Sharing
  • Multiparty IM & PC-to-PC Calling
  • Self-Help and Community Support.

For most small businesses this solution would be a great solution, however for a growing organisation you need to choose your plan carefully as the P-Plans do not have an upgrade path to move to an E-Plan (at the time of writing – remember it is a service and can change!). The service is still stored on the same datacentres as the E-Plan customers but you just have a few limitations as mentioned below;

  • Phone/Ticketed Support Not Included
  • Capacity Limited to 50 users (no movement above this limit)
  • Unable to Upgrade from P1 to E Plan
  • One SharePoint Site Collection
  • Cannot purchase additional SharePoint Storage
  • Directory Syncronisation is not allowed
  • Federation (Single Sign On) is not supported
  • Custom Domain Validation requires Microsoft Name Servers (A technical aspect on a plan designed to be ‘non technical’?)

Introducing Office 365 – Product Comparison

When we talk about Office 365, we are looking at the following items;

  • Microsoft Office Professional Plus
  • Exchange Online
  • SharePoint Online
  • Lync Online

The scale of Office 365 is designed from a single home user to an enterprise environment and all the flavours of business and user in between.

Windows Live provides Office 365 for individuals and consumers, it is designed for personal use and is often free or very low cost.

Office 365 for small businesses is designed for small business and professionals, in an organisational environment whom uses an IT Consultant or has very little onsite support. The pricing is designed for small business with a low monthly/annual subscription to the service. It’s designed to be simple but perhaps shift small business into a more professional way of working using online services such as Lync and SharePoint. Support is provided through community forums which is a fantastic approach to keep the costs down for these companies.

Office 365 for enterprise is designed for any size organisation but gives a little more to the end user with regards to features. It is designed for customers who have Internal IT or an IT partner (such as Comms Group UK Ltd). Fully featured subscription with scripting and customisation available, the range of products is highly configurable to what your enterprise requires. Support is provided through 24×7 telephone support.

Below I have included screenshots of the plans from the Office 365 website, you can view these in more detail here

Hosted Email Plans

Hosted Email Plans

Compare SMB Plans

Compare SMB Plans

Enterprise Plans - Part1

Enterprise Plans – Part1

Enterprise Plans - Part 2

Enterprise Plans – Part 2

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