Microsoft Project Licensing Explained

Microsoft Project licensing – it’s a topic best left for deliberation. The information is confusing at best and subject to frequent change. Such is the case with licensing for Microsoft’s new Project for the web and the legacy Project Online platform.

We regularly help our clients and software resellers navigate the license selection process. The names are similar, and the use cases may be described differently from the way you identify your PPM users. If you’re interested in saving yourself a headache, feel free to call Advisicon. Let us help you through identifying the most cost-effective way to license your users.

Microsoft Project Licensing

My goal for this post is to present what we know today, which is good because the landscape has changed just recently. Let’s look at what’s going on.

Microsoft Project offers the following applications to help meet your organization’s needs for project and work management:

  • Project for the web
  • Project Online
  • Project Online desktop client

Project for the web

Project for the web is Microsoft’s new offering for cloud-based work and project management. Project for the web provides simple, powerful work management capabilities to meet most needs and roles. Project managers and team members can use Project for the web to plan and manage work of any size.

Project for the web is built on the Microsoft Power Platform. The Power Platform consists of PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, Power BI, and the Common Data Service (CDS). Project for the web data is stored in CDS.

Project for the web is available through three subscriptions: Project Plan 1, Project Plan 3, and Project Plan 5.  Further explanation below.

Project Online

Project Online is a flexible online solution for Project Portfolio Management (PPM) and everyday work. Project Online provides powerful project management capabilities for planning, prioritizing, and managing projects and project portfolio investments—from almost anywhere on almost any device. Project Online can be used by administrators, portfolio managers and viewers, project and resource managers, and team leads and members.

Project Online is available through three subscriptions: Project Plan 3, Project Plan 5, and Project Online Essentials.

Project Online Essentials is an add-on subscription for customers who have Project Plan 3 or Project Plan 5 subscriptions. It gives team members a web interface to perform task and time updates to projects managed in Project Online.

Project Online desktop client

Microsoft Project Online desktop client is a project management program that features automated scheduling, project resource management, and built-in reporting. Project Online desktop client can be used as a standalone application or it can connect to Project Online. Project Online desktop client is the subscription version of the Project Online desktop client and is available in Project Plan 3 and Project Plan 5 subscriptions.

Subscription Plans

Microsoft Project is available through the following subscriptions.

  • Project Plan 1 is a new license, not a renaming of Project Online Essentials. Plan 1 provides users access to the new, simpler approach to creating and managing projects in “Project for the web”. Note that, if you have Project Online team members, who need to login, view and progress their assignments using either the My Tasks or My Timesheets views, or access the SharePoint project site – and you now, additionally, want them to access projects in “Project for the web”, you will need to maintain their Project Online Essentials license and add a Plan 1 license to give them access to “Project for the web”.
  • Project Plan 3 is the new name for Project Online Professional, the license most often assigned to a project manager or resource manager. This license enables a user to work in both Project Online, using either the web browser or Project Online Desktop Client (formerly known as Project Professional) and, new this week, also allows the user to work in Project for the web. Besides access to Project for the web, the capabilities of a Project Plan 3 user are unchanged.
  • Project Plan 5 is the new name for Project Online Premium, the license assigned to those users requiring access to the entire Project Online platform, including the portfolio selection and cross-project demand management capabilities. These users have also gained access to Project for the web this week.
  • Project Online Essentials continues unchanged with respect to capabilities. The key change to this license is that Microsoft has removed it from its position beside the (former) Project Online Professional and Project Online Premium licenses.

We hope that brings some clarity to your decision-making process. Please reach out to us for demos, an analysis of your current and required licensing, or just to get your questions answered. We know you’ve got ‘em.