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Microsoft 365 Business Standard vs. Premium: Discover what’s right for your business

What's best for your organisation? Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Microsoft 365 Business Premium? Here we explore the features of each product to help you decide.
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Windows 11 upgrade: Is now the right time to update your Windows environment?

Microsoft’s Windows 11 has now been available for over a month. Should your business make the upgrade yet? Find out more in our blog.
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Windows 11: 6 exciting new features from Microsoft

Windows 11 is the next generation of Microsoft's popular operating system. This latest upgrade was announced last week and includes some interesting new features.
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Microsoft 365 Business Standard vs. Premium: Discover what’s right for your business

The Microsoft 365 for business suite brings together office applications, Windows 10 or 11 and Enterprise Mobility and Security. It’s a powerhouse of productivity, communication, collaboration, and security. For organisations with fewer than 300 seats, there are four licensing options when deploying Microsoft 365: Microsoft 365 Apps, Business Basic, Business Standard, and Business Premium. 

Microsoft 365 Apps and Business Basic are the cheapest options but lack many features, which is why for most organisations Microsoft 365 Business Standard or Premium is the best fit.

Here we compare both products so you can decide what’s right for you.

Do you already subscribe to Microsoft 365 and want to know if your organisation is on the right plan for your requirements? Our free Microsoft 365 Licence Health Check explores your licence usage and adoption, and makes recommendations if there’s a better way to get the services you require. Learn more here >

Microsoft 365 Business Standard

A Microsoft 365 Business Standard licence includes Windows 10 or 11, with access to mobile, web and desktop office applications (Word, Excel and PowerPoint), as well as a suite of cloud services for collaboration and communications (Teams, Exchange, OneDrive and SharePoint). Business Standard users are protected with standard security and compliance features. It also includes some lesser-known applications, such as Microsoft Forms, Lists and Bookings, which can improve many business processes. 

Microsoft 365 Business Premium

Microsoft 365 Business Premium is the most feature-rich Microsoft license for businesses under 300 seats. Business Premium includes all the features in Business Standard, with additional advanced security features. These include the use of Intune, Azure Information Protection, and Microsoft Defender (soon to be Microsoft Defender for Business).


Microsoft Intune is a cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) service. It allows businesses to control how devices, such as mobile phones, tablets and laptops, are being used. It is also possible to configure policies for specific applications on a device.

The use of Intune can reduce the risk associated with shadow IT, BYOD programs, and enable efficient update and patch management. As hybrid work and remote work has become commonplace it is increasingly important to be able manage employees’ devices. With employees working away from the office, IT teams have less visibility over individual devices, which increases the chance of a cyberattack.

Azure Information Protection

Azure Information Protection (AIP) is a cloud-based service that allows businesses to discover, classify, and protect documents and emails by applying labels of the content. With efficient use of AIP, businesses can strengthen their security posture by setting limits on documents and users’ actions within a document.

The use of AIP enables businesses to have more granular visibility over where content is being distributed and how it is being used. This prevents illicit modification and distribution of data, solves the challenge of unauthorised individuals viewing sensitive content, and helps businesses meet regulatory data protection and compliance standards.

Microsoft 365 Defender / Microsoft Defender for Business

Microsoft 365 Defender is a security solution that uses AI to automatically analyse threat data across Microsoft 365 to build a picture of each attack within a single dashboard. This technology can stop attacks before they happen by reducing the attack surface and eliminating persistent threats.

In November 2021, Microsoft announced a new security solution that will be available within a Business Premium licence, Microsoft Defender for Business. This solution brings enterprise-grade capabilities to businesses under 300 seats with next-generation protection, endpoint detection and response, threat and vulnerability management, and more. This new addition provides even more value to a Business Premium licence.

Which Microsoft 365 licence is right for your business?

The key differences between Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Business Premium are the security features. Although Business Standard has all the communication, collaboration and productivity features to empower your employees to do their best possible work, it does not offer any advanced protection over these applications. This lack of protection increases the risk of a data breach or other cyberattack.

Over the past two years there has been a substantial increase in the number of businesses falling victim to a variety of cyberattacks, most commonly, ransomware. Microsoft Defender for Business, along with the other advanced security features reduces the chance of your business falling victim to such an attack. Similarly, if your business has remote or hybrid employees, the addition of Intune makes it easier to manage employee devices, regardless of where they are located. For all businesses, we recommend having a conversation with one of our team to ensure that your business makes the right decision when purchasing a Microsoft 365 license. Contact us today and we will be happy to help.

Windows 11 upgrade: Is now the right time to update your Windows environment?

Microsoft’s Windows 11 has now been available for a month, and many users have already made the upgrade. There are a myriad of new features introduced in Windows 11 that have everyone at Cloud Business excited, especially as the operating system is designed for hybrid working. Microsoft will continue to support Windows 10 for another 5 years; however, many organisations are upgrading now to take advantage of these new features. 

With any new update there are many factors to consider before upgrading. In this article we discuss what’s new in Windows 11, the hardware requirements, key considerations and whether your organisation should upgrade now.

What’s new in Windows 11

Productivity and UI enhancements

The most noticeable change between Windows 10 and Windows 11 is the sleek new UI of the operating system. The taskbar has been moved to the centre of the screen and now acts as a dashboard for both applications and widgets.

taskbar windows 11

As the new operating system is designed with hybrid working in mind, Microsoft Teams has been integrated into the desktop. This makes it easier to communicate with colleagues and multitask during meetings. From the taskbar, users can also mute, unmute and start presenting, increasing productivity and limiting technical difficulties whilst in meetings.

Increased security and performance

As the security landscape continues to change, Microsoft has made security a top priority when designing Windows 11. The key change from Windows 10 to 11 is that Windows 11 utilises the zero trust framework, whereby it assumes a breach at all times and has advanced identity and access management features. The increase in security features does come at a cost, as it requires newer hardware with a TPM 2.0 chip to enable the automatic BitLocker encryption. Microsoft has also stated that Windows 11 boots significantly faster than Windows 10 and the operating system uses less energy, which should translate to longer battery life on laptops and tablets.

Hardware requirements for Windows 11

In order to upgrade to Windows 11 the user’s computer must have the following minimum system requirements:

  • A 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster CPU with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 64GB or larger storage device
  • UEFI Secure Boot capable and enabled
  • A Trusted Platform Module version 2.0
  • A 720p display device that is at least 9” diagonally

The three key requirements that not all PCs may not meet are the CPU, UEFI secure boot requirement and the TPM requirement. The only CPUs that are compatible are 8+ generation Intel processors and AMD Ryzen 2000+ series. These chips were made in late 2017 onwards, meaning that if the device was built or purchased before 2017, it will not meet the minimum hardware requirements. Microsoft aims to make it simple to check if users’ hardware will be able to run Windows 11 with their PC Health Check App.

Key considerations

Whenever an organisation upgrades its software or operating systems, there is a period of readjustment whilst users become accustomed to the changes in UI. However, for many businesses that are considering upgrading to Windows 11, the largest concern is the hardware requirements. For businesses that have not upgraded their hardware in the past 4 years, upgrading to Windows 11 would also require upgrading their hardware, which may be result in significant costs. 

Thankfully, as Windows 10 will continue to be supported until 2025, businesses do not need to rush to upgrade their hardware. Another key concern is whether your software and applications are compatible with Windows 11. This includes essential business applications as well as any antivirus, VPNs or endpoint management software.

Should you upgrade to Windows 11?

If your organisation has purchased new devices within the past 4 years, and the hardware is compatible, upgrading to Windows 11 may increase employee productivity and result in a better user experience. However, before you update your operating systems you should ensure that all software and applications are compatible with Windows 11. For organisations that have not recently upgraded their hardware, and do not plan to for another few years, you will need to delay rollout of Windows 11 until new hardware has been purchased. 

Don’t put it off for too long though! You’ll need to upgrade to Windows 11 by 2025, as after that the operating system will no longer be supported and running Windows 10 will be a major security risk.

If you want to find out more about Windows 11 or check if your current work devices meet the minimum hardware requirements, contact us today and we will be happy to help.

Windows 11: 6 exciting new features from Microsoft

6 years ago, Microsoft released Windows 10, the successor to relatively short-lived Windows 8. Microsoft has just announced the next major release of the Windows operating system, Windows 11. 

This release has a new user interface and aims to increase productivity and provide a seamless experience for those working both in the office and at home. We’ve compiled a list of some of the 6 most exciting differences between Windows 10 and 11.

1: New design, taskbar and start menu

As you’ll see from the following Windows 11 screenshots, the first thing that stands out is the simplified and modern design. Microsoft may have taken some design cues from Apple, having moved the applications in the taskbar to the centre. The start menu button has also been moved to the centre, however it is possible to change the layout to the traditional left side location, as it is in the previous Windows operating systems.

Screenshot source: Microsoft

2: New snap layouts, groups and desktops

Microsoft aims to improve ease of use and user productivity with the addition of a new method of snapping windows together. This feature has been available in previous versions of Windows, however Windows 11 offers new layouts and groups. In the new update, when frequently used apps are opened, the windows automatically snap to your preferred layout. Windows 11 has also introduced more user-friendly virtual desktops. This allows the possibility of using a single computer with virtual desktops set up for work, personal use, or gaming.

Screenshot source: Microsoft

3: Teams added to the taskbar

Microsoft Teams is now an essential application in many businesses for communication and collaboration. Windows 11 has introduced a new way to manage Teams by integrating the application into the taskbar. This new feature will also allow users to mute and unmute their microphones and start presenting whilst on calls, without needing to open the Teams application window.

Screenshot source: Microsoft

4: The return of widgets

Back in the days of Windows 7, Windows Gadgets were particularly popular, whether it was a CPU monitor, a clock, or a mini picture puzzle. Windows 11 brings this concept into 2021, with widgets. The widgets in Windows 11 look significantly more modern and useful than those of the past. Windows 11 includes widgets for weather, calendars, share prices, news updates, To Do lists and much more.

Screenshot source: Microsoft

5: Android app integration and better tablet support

Android apps will be available for download in the Microsoft Store with the release of Windows 11. This will give a wealth of new applications available for download on all Windows 11 devices. The new update also promises a better experience to tablet users with enhanced touchscreen, voice and pen support.

Screenshot source: Microsoft

6: Increased security

IT admins will be pleased to learn that Windows 11 was built on the foundation of Windows 10, so the deployment process remains the same and the system includes all the same management experiences. Windows 11 will also have built-in security technologies with increased protection for the device’s connection to the cloud and is Zero Trust-ready.

Windows 11 is due to release at the end of 2021 as a free update to current Windows 10 users. Microsoft will continue Windows 10 support until October 2025. If you want to find out more about Windows 11, or if you want to ensure your devices will be Windows 11 compatible, please get in touch with your Account Manager or contact us here >

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