Cyber Security

Microsoft 365 E3 vs E5: what’s the difference?

19th Mar 2024 | 5 min read

Microsoft 365 E3 vs E5: what’s the difference?

Microsoft 365 is packed full of products and capabilities that boost business performance, empower employees to complete tasks efficiently and drive innovation.

But if you want to use it, you’ll need a licence. Ideally, a licence that fits your organisation’s needs and budget.

Microsoft offers different licences for Microsoft 365, with two specifically aimed at enterprises with more than 300 users: E3 and E5. These two tiers overlap significantly, but there are key differences that businesses should know before they choose one.

In this blog, we examine the key differences between Microsoft 365 E3 vs E5 to determine which is the right fit for your organisation.


What’s included in Microsoft E3 vs E5?

The main question you need answered before choosing a Microsoft 365 licence is what’s included.

Here’s everything you can expect to find it your E3 or E5 package:

Microsoft E3 vs E5 comparison


















What’s included in Microsoft 365 E3?

Microsoft 365 E3 includes mobile and desktop apps for all Microsoft’s key tools. This includes the likes of Word, Excel, Teams, Outlook, OneDrive, Planner, SharePoint, Power Apps and Power Automate.

A full list of apps and services included can be found on the Microsoft website.

It also includes the Windows for Enterprise operating system, 1 TB of cloud storage and core security capabilities.

E3 also enables chat, meetings and file sharing within shared workspaces, making it easier for your teams to collaborate, even if they’re based in different locations.

E3 doesn’t come with Copilot as standard, but you can purchase an add-on licence to incorporate its AI capabilities.


What’s included in Microsoft 365 E5?

E5 includes everything listed above in E3, plus some extra functionality.

With E5, you’ll get Power BI Pro, allowing you access analytics that scale with your business. You’ll also get advanced security and compliance.

Another inclusion is audio conferencing for up to 1000 attendees, for larger meetings and events.

There are also many significant security features included in E5. These include:

  • Microsoft Defender for Endpoint – offering endpoint security to protect, detect and help you recover from potential breaches.
  • Microsoft Entra ID P2 – a cloud identity and access management solution, making sure only authorised users access your systems and data.
  • Microsoft Defender XDR – increases visibility of cyber threats across your business for better detection and response.
  • Microsoft Defender for Identity – manages identity risks and detect identity-based attacks.
  • Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps – view apps used across your business and enhance their security.
  • Azure Information Protection Plan 2 – classify and protect sensitive documents, reducing the risk of leaks.
  • Microsoft Purview Insider Risk Management – investigate and protect yourself against insider risks.
  • Microsoft Purview eDiscovery – find the data you need for easier responses to legal issues or internal investigations.
  • Information Protection and Governance – better understand how your data is used and take necessary measures to protect it.

These features mean you can get advanced protection across your business area.

Similarly to E3, Copilot can be added with a Copilot licence.


The price of E3 vs E5

An E3 licence costs £33.10 per user per month. It is an annual commitment for your organisation.

As E5 contains more, it’s also slightly more expensive at £52.40 per user per month.


What are the key differences between E3 and E5?

While many of the apps and services included are the same under an E3 and E5 licence, there are some distinct characteristics between the two.

The biggest difference is that E5 offers advanced Power BI capabilities, with the inclusion of Power BI Pro. This empowers better reporting and analysis throughout your business, allowing teams to make intelligent decisions and share insights readily.

This is complemented by advanced AI capabilities within E5, including MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics. These can provide greater insight across the organisation, driving increased productivity and collaboration.

Another crucial change from E3 to E5 is the level of security. E5 contains higher threat protection, security management, privileged access management, customer lockbox and advanced eDiscovery. While E3 will keep your organisation safe, E5 protects you against a wider variety of threats and makes compliance much easier.

The final difference to note is the addition of audio conferencing for up to 1000 attendees in E5. If you’re likely to host virtual meetings and events for this many people, E5 can give you the tools you need.


Which should you choose?

Whether you choose an E3 or an E5 licence will depend on the specific needs and priorities within your organisation.

Budget will likely be a key factor, with E3 being cheaper. Small organisations who do not need advanced reporting or security capabilities may find an E3 licence covers their needs and fits in their budget.

However, most larger organisations will fare better with E5. Thanks to the increased functionality, you will access improved reporting for increased intelligence. This makes it easier to become a data-driven business and share key analysis across teams.

You’ll also benefit from better security, which is ideal for companies wishing to be extra vigilant about cyber threats. If you face frequent risks, this heightened level of security is worth investing in.

You do also have the option to mix and match. If not everyone in your organisation needs the advanced capabilities of E5, you may choose to pay for only those users who need it while choosing the cheaper E3 licence for other users. This can work out as more cost-effective while covering internal needs.

If you want to move across to Microsoft 365 but aren’t sure which licence is best for you, our expert team can guide you.

We’ll discuss your needs to understand the right licence to suit your organisation. Then, we’ll work with you to get the very best value from your investment in Microsoft 365.

Our dedicated security team will also be able to help protect your environment with enhanced security technologies.


Get in touch today to begin your move to Microsoft 365.

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