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What's the Difference Between Office E3 and E5?

Microsoft Purview (Compliance Center) Office E3 vs E5 Comparison


Pandemic protocols have forced many organizations to work fully or partially remotely, leading to a mass influx of Microsoft Office Licenses into the workplace. We see that after the emergency rush to buy licenses it left many organizations confused on what these Licenses, particularly E3 and E5, do.


So what do they do?


An E5 Licence allows for automation when compared to E3 which does not.


Notable Features with Microsoft Office E3 Licenses:

  • Apply sensitivity labels manually in Microsoft 365 Apps using built-in labeling, in Office for the Web and Office Mobile, and in SharePoint sites, Teams, and M365 Groups

  • Apply a basic retention policy to the entire organization, specific locations or users

  • Email archiving

  • Content Search

  • Core eDiscovery (incl. Hold and Export)

  • Basic Audit


Microsoft Office E5 Licenses will Grant the Above Features, Plus:

Information Protection & Governance

  • Apply sensitivity labels automatically to files in SPO or to EXO email

  • Classify data automatically based on Exact Data Match

  • Apply a default retention label for SharePoint/Teams/OneDrive for business libraries, folders, and document sets and Microsoft 365 Groups

  • Apply and view sensitivity labels in Power BI, and protect data when it is exported to Excel, PowerPoint, or PDF

  • Apply sensitivity labels automatically in Microsoft 365 Apps, Office for the Web, and Office Mobile based on sensitive information types

  • Apply retention policies automatically based on specific conditions (e.g., keywords or sensitive information)

  • Apply retention policies automatically based on an event

  • Retention labels disposition review

  • Records Management (record labels, file plan manager, records versioning)

  • Content and Activity Explorer

  • Communication Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in Microsoft Teams chat and channel conversations

Microsoft Teams Phone

  • Call from anywhere, on any device through the Microsoft Teams

  • app on desktop, mobile, web, and desk phones

eDiscovery & Respond

  • Advanced eDiscovery and eDiscovery Export

  • Advanced Audit

Key Takeaways

  • E5 Licenses allow for automation E3 Licenses do not

  • Both E3 and E5 include Microsoft Teams but E5 allows access to Microsoft Teams Calling assigning each user a Teams phone number (at no extra cost). This number can be used via mobile devices or on a computer essentially replacing any need for company phone. It's often cost-effective if the employee sheds the company phone plan and upgrades to an E5 License, getting all the other E5 benefits in the process.

  • An E5 License is a complete suite, covering Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10/11 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility + Security technologies