Microsoft Office 365 E3 Complete Guide - VS & Free Trial & Alternatives

January 15, 2024 1.8K views

Microsoft Office 365 comes in three different plans, which include E1, E3, and E5. With these multiple versions, users need clarification when comparing and choosing the right one.

You might have several questions: which plan provides the most value for money? Do I require E5's enhanced analytics and security functionality? Is it more cost-effective to use E3 and use third-party email security?

This post will address these questions and propose the ideal service for your business. We will also provide an in-depth comparison of the three different versions of Microsoft Office 365, discuss the benefits of Microsoft Office E3, and give a breakdown of what each plan offers and more.

What is Microsoft Office 365 E3?

Microsoft Office 365 E3, a cloud-based suite of productivity tools and services, includes data security and compliance features.

Microsoft Office 365 E3 is a mid-tier option for Office 365 subscribers that include all of the functionality of E1 and the complete desktop suite of MS Office 365 programs, and more storage for SharePoint and email. Office 365 E3 is a "Goldilocks" plan that is neither simple nor complex.

The most notable missing features include the enhanced email security capability the Defender for Office 365 provides and audio-conferencing. Other third-party email security solutions offer more robust email protection than Defender (at a lower cost), so choosing between E5 and E3 may determine whether you want the audio-conferencing features.

Comparison of Office 365 E1, Office 365 E3, Office 365 E5

Office 365 E1 Vs E3 Vs E5: Key Takeaways

E1: This is the best option if you only require introductory email and file-sharing features and do not need to use the Office 365 program suite. It is Ideal for a small group of users.

E3: This is the finest alternative if you do not require advanced compliance or audio-conferencing features. It includes the Microsoft Office 365 suite and more storage for file-sharing and email. We recommend utilizing it with third-party email security, which seems more cost-friendly than E5.

E5: The ideal alternative for larger enterprises seeking telephone conferencing and extra compliance features. While additional security measures are vital, third-party email security features can be more substantial and cost-friendly.

Let us take a closer look at these three plans.

Microsoft Office 365 E1

Price: $10.00 Per Month Per User

The E1 plan is the most basic of the three plans we will look at on this list, and it's also the cheapest. It offers "core" cloud business functions such as storage and file sharing with OneDrive, email with Microsoft Outlook, and security measures such as multi-factor authentication.


  • Office: Microsoft's Office Suite (Excel, Word, and PowerPoint) is exclusively available on mobile devices and the web. You can't use these programs on a desktop computer.

  • Email: Outlook includes email, with a mailbox size of 50GB. You can access the contacts, calendar, and email archiving features. Remember that you can only view email through the web-based gateway, but you cannot install the desktop client for Outlook.

  • Meetings: Microsoft Teams (for meetings, instant messaging, and live events) is included. But the phone and audio systems are not featured.

  • File Sharing: Users can share files and collaborate with Yammer and SharePoint (Remember that this can only be possible on the web or mobile version of cloud office apps). There is up to 1TB of storage for each user.

  • Productivity: To Do, Planner, and Power Automate are all included.

  • Analytics: There is also some basic analytics, like compliance management and Productive score.


  • Email: Exchange Online Protection helps in protecting emails. That is Office 365's fundamental layer of email security. It will block simple spam but cannot secure more advanced email attacks.

  • Identity and Access Management: It supports multi-factor authentication and single sign-on.


We recommend E1 for firms that do not want to use Office cloud apps but need basic file-sharing and email services. When contemplating this use case, the service is less expensive than E3.

But, regarding email security, this approach needs to be revised. If you want to invest in E1, you should use third-party email security measures in your company against advanced ransomware and phishing attacks.

Microsoft Office 365 E3

Price: $23.00 Per Month For One User

Office 365 from Microsoft E3 is the intermediate option for users of Office 365. It includes the full features of the E1 plan with the complete desktop suite of Office 365 programs and more storage for SharePoint and email. Office 365 E3 is the "Goldilocks" plan: it's neither simple nor complex.

The key features lacking here are the audio-conferencing and enhanced email security function that Defender for Office 365 provides. Other third-party email security tools offer more robust email protection than Defender (at a lower cost), so choosing between E5 and E3 may determine whether you want the audio-conferencing features.


  • Office: Microsoft Cloud applications full suite is included.

  • Email: Email is available with mailbox sizes of about 100GB, with full features.

  • Meetings: Microsoft Teams is featured, but not the audio-conferencing or phone system.

  • File Sharing: SharePoint has unlimited OneDrive storage for every user.

  • Productivity: Planner, To Do, and Power Automate are all included. There is no Power BI Pro.

  • Analytics: Analytics such as compliance management and Productive Score is included. Admins can also manage group policies missing in E1.

  • eDisovery and Auditing: Basic auditing, content search, and eDiscovery features are included. Advanced records management and auditing should be included.


  • Email: Exchange Online Protection protects emails. DLP (Data Loss Prevention) for files and emails is also provided. Basic email encryption and audit logs, and email retention policies are available.

  • Identity and Access Management: It supports Multi-Factor Authentication and Single Sign-On.


E3 is an excellent choice for most small and medium-sized enterprises seeking Microsoft Office apps, file sharing, cloud-file management, and emails, with robust compliance controls and enterprise analytics. At a low price, the solution delivers all of the essential enterprise controls that many small firms want. However, there are just two key areas where this method needs to be improved.

The first is safety/security. This solution protects email with EOP (Exchange Online Protection), which helps filter email for spam, basic phishing attacks, and dangerous URLs. This degree of security, however, is relatively weak and won't be able to protect your company against complex email attacks like ransomware and "spear-phishing" (or social engineering). These attacks are becoming more regular and should be a top priority for your company when determining the right package to invest in.

Nevertheless, third-party security solutions can provide significantly more protection than even Defender for Office 365, Microsoft's email security solution (you can access this on the E5 package), and EOP. These services are frequently less expensive than the pricing difference between the E3 and E5 plans, and they are typically quite simple to install. Users may be onboarded because they utilize the Microsoft Graph API without needing MX redirection or additional setups.

The phone system and audio-conferencing are the second areas that Microsoft E3 lacks. Teams are available, but you may only use it to chat with other Teams members, not to make phone calls outside of Teams. If you will be making phone calls frequently, such as assisting a sales staff and prefer the simplicity of utilizing a single solution for your users, E5 may be the more practical option. If this isn't a factor, or if only a few of your staff want phone functionality, Microsoft E3 is an excellent all-arounder.

Office 365 E5

Price: $38.00 Per Month For a User

Microsoft Office 365 E5 is the "Premium" Office 365 option, offering the most powerful corporate features. It costs more, is divided into two plans, and has more features. For the sake of this post, we'll look at Plan 2.

Security functionalities and audio-conferencing capabilities are the primary differences between Microsoft Office E3 and E5. However, additional advantages include enhanced analytics, advanced email retention policies, and compliance & information protection. If you want to enjoy everything on Office 365, E5 is the best choice, but it might not always be the best bargain.


  • Office:  Microsoft Cloud applications full suite is included.

  • Email: Email is available with mailbox sizes of about 100GB, with full features.

  • Meetings: Chat and calling functionality is included, which means you get a business phone system, audio conferencing, Live Events, and Teams.

  • File Sharing: SharePoint has unlimited OneDrive storage for every user.

  • Productivity: Planner, To Do, and Power Automate are all included. To enable more granular automation and analytics, Power BI Pro is included.

  • Analytics: Analytics, such as compliance management and Productive Score, are included. Advanced auditing and analytics missing in E1 or E5 can also be accessed by admins.

  • eDisovery and Auditing: Other supported features are advanced eDiscovery and auditing features.


  1. Email: Exchange Online security and Windows Defender for Office 365 provide better protection against ransomware and phishing and more extensive reporting and admin controls for emails. Emails, files, and Teams all have data loss prevention included. Advanced email encryption is also available, as are email retention policies. Office 365 customer keys are supported.

  2. Identity and Access Management: Multi-Factor Authentication and Single Sign-On are supported. Cloud App Security Discovery is also available to control the security of third-party applications.

  3. Information Protection: Teams are also subject to automatic sensitivity labelling and DLP. Advanced auditing and rules-based automatic archiving are supported.

  4. Insider Risk Management: Information barriers, Privileged Access Management, and communication compliance are included.


E5 has the most excellent functionality and features of the three plans, so if you want the best version of Microsoft Office 365, choose this plan. It includes all Office 365 products, increased email functionality and control, improved auditing and analytics and auditing, and telephone and audio-conferencing features.

So, the issue for your company must be: do you require those extra functions, and if so, are they to be included in Office 365?

As previously discussed, many incredibly sophisticated third-party solutions are devoted to providing enterprises with compliance capability and email security. That includes security, archiving, and encryption, two more sophisticated capabilities included in E5 but not E3. These systems are frequently less expensive than E5 and offer more sophisticated security features and analytics. In most circumstances, for example, we suggest that Office 365 E5 users adopt a third-party email security system to supplement Defender's security.

However, having a single system from which users can access all apps and services is advantageous. It is much easier to handle and can increase productivity. That is especially critical with the phone system, and integrating audio-conferencing to Microsoft Teams makes it easier for users to make calls and communicate with colleagues, even when they are not in the exact location.

Our ultimate advice is that E5 is the ideal plan for a phone system with audio-conferencing. If you're interested in E5 for the added security features, we recommend investing in E3 and implementing a third-party email security, encryption, or archiving solution.

Microsoft 365 Business Premium Vs Office 365 E3

Scalability Limits

To begin, think about scalability constraints.

There may be some scaling concerns with the Microsoft 365 Business Standard plan. You will only be able to license up to 300 people, so if you expect to have more than that in the nearest future or already do now, you will need to forego the M365 Business Standard choices in favour of an Enterprise License.

If you pick the Microsoft 365 Business Standard license, you must carefully prepare for scalability.

Security Comparison

Furthermore, you should evaluate safety issues related to your business.

To be clear, the Microsoft 365 Business Standard license is a terrific value for all of the functionalities you get for a small business, with one exception: security.

Above all, due to the service's public nature, email is still regarded as the most susceptible entry point for security breaches. Securing cloud services like Azure and Microsoft Office 365 necessitates thoroughly examining your networks, SaaS apps, and devices.

Office 365 E3 Security Additions

Contrary to the Business Standard license, the Office 365 E3 license is designed to protect your environment from daily attacks. Above all, Office 365 E3 provides information security, such as email and file data loss prevention, message encryption, and rights management. Finally, you will have access to roaming settings and group policy support.

How to decide?

Finally, consider the following questions to determine whether Microsoft 365 license is best for your organization:

"Do we have over 300 users? "

  • The Office Business Edition only allows up to 300 users

  • Microsoft Office E3 allows unlimited users

"What are the sizes of mailboxes that our users have?"

  • The Business Standard version allows a mailbox size of 50GB

  • Microsoft Office E3 allows 100GB mailbox size of 100GB

"Do we need device management and security? "

  • Office 365 E3 includes device management security and device management

What Are The Benefits Of Using Microsoft Office E3?

The Microsoft E3 Office 365 is cheaper to get premium versions of Office services and apps for enterprise users. With E3, you entirely use Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams.

Because these are desktop versions of the applications, you'll have full premium features and complete offline access across your devices. A user may install Office E3 on a maximum of five tablets, five smartphones, and five PCs, making it easier to stay productive.

How to try Microsoft Office E3 for free?

You can access premium features, additional cloud storage, and improved data and device security with a free trial.

Microsoft 365 Family costs $99.99 per year after your one-month free trial. Credit card information is required. Cancel at any moment to avoid further costs.

What is the best alternative to Microsoft Office E3?

Various free alternatives still exist to avoid paying for the Microsoft Office suite. Here is a brief introduction to one free option.

  •  WPS Office:

WPS Office is a free software suite comprising Writer, PDF, Spreadsheet, and Presentation, allowing for a unified working experience across numerous platforms such as PC, tablet, and phone to achieve excellent work productivity at any time and from any

Compared to other office software, WPS Office stands out for utilizing less memory, providing more functionality, and operating at faster speeds.

Functions and Features:

It has similar features and functions to Microsoft Office. It also has powerful collaboration functions. It supports 47 file types and 46 languages and is completely compatible with macOS, Windows, iOS, Linux, and Android.


· Free download and no ads

· Compatible with all Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS

· Could save and open files in Microsoft Office formats

· Have a similar layout of function ribbon with that of MS, easy to learn to use



WPS Office- Free All-in-One Office Suite
  • Use Word, Excel, and PPT for FREE, No Ads.

  • Edit PDF files with the powerful PDF toolkit.

  • Microsoft-like interface. Easy to learn. 100% Compatibility.

  • Boost your productivity with WPS's abundant free Word, Excel, PPT, and CV templates.

5,820,008 User


Algirdas Jasaitis


  • What is an office E3 license?

The E3 license is a popular choice for digital-driven enterprises. With E3, you get desktop apps, email, archiving, data security, and additional storage possibilities.

  • How many computers can I use with an E3 license?

Users may install and use Microsoft 365 Apps on a maximum of five PCs, five mobile devices, and five tablets with a single license.

  • Does the E3 license include Windows 11?

Windows 11 Enterprise E3 gives you access to the Windows 11 Enterprise edition and the Windows cloud services that enable advanced protection from modern security threats, a wide range of options for operating system updates and deployments, and extensive application and device management.

  • How do you check for a user's E3 license?

To know which E3 license was given to a particular user, Go to Office 365 admin center>Users>Active Users>select a user>check if you can see which E3 plan is enabled for him.

Final Thoughts

There you have it! We've made deciding which Microsoft Office 365 plan to invest in easier.

Remember that there is always an alternative if you need more money on the paid version. That is the WPS Office. This app also gives you tools like Office 365, and it can do almost anything, all for free.

So if you are a person that's not interested in spending on any app, we recommend using the WPS Office.

15 years of office industry experience, tech lover and copywriter. Follow me for product reviews, comparisons, and recommendations for new apps and software.