Update April 2022: From January 1st, 2022 I am no longer working at an organization where I have access to both the E3 and F3 licenses. Unfortunately I can no longer update this post.
When people talk or write about Microsoft 365 Outlook, Word or Excel, they generally mean the desktop versions.
However, there are Microsoft365 subscriptions that provide only the web and mobile versions of things. With the ongoing improvements of the web apps these subscriptions are getting better and better.
Most of my therapist colleagues have the Microsoft365 F3 license, which is a good fit for people who mostly work with patients and use dedicated medical software as their main application. F3 has web and mobile apps only.
While the comparison with the Microsoft E3 license (which most secretaries and staff have) clearly display most of the limitations of the F3, (albeit in the small print) there’s a few unmentioned “surprises” so let me list all that we have found so far, while providing support to our F3 collagues.
1. No desktop apps
This is the most obvious limitation. I think Word and Outlook for the web are both pretty good and getting better all the time, but some advanced functions are only available in the desktop apps, e.g. creation of scientific literature citations, or creation of a book index in Word.
An overview of the differences:
2. Storage for Outlook and OneDrive: 2 GB
Yes, it is mentioned quite clearly (also in our own support materials) but we regularly get questions from people who have almost reached the limit. All we can do is provide them with help to clean up their Outlook and OneDrive.
This is also the reason why I was not happy with the recent change to store Teams meeting recordings to OneDrive.
3. You can not upload a video to Stream (Classic)
Update November 2022: With the move to Stream (on SharePoint) I expect this issue to disappear, as created videos will be stored on OneDrive. But with only 2 GB of storage space, it means F3 users will have to be very careful and move videos to SharePoint where possible.
Just to be clear: F3 people can consume videos from Stream but not create them. It is mentioned in the comparison. I do not really get this. Are F3 users not expected to share any videos? Not even of training materials or a team get-together? We have a few colleagues who like to do vlogs for their colleagues – no Stream for them. 😢
4. Recorded Teams meetings go nowhere
We made the change from storage in Stream to OneDrive and SharePoint early, because we knew that F3-users can not upload anything to Stream. If an F3 recorded a meeting, they got an error message.
So we thought: “Well, OneDrive may not be optimal, but at least they will be able to store their recording in a good place. So let’s make the change, make them aware and suggest to move any recordings to SharePoint at their earliest convenience.”
The other day I recorded something with my F3 test account, and I was totally surprised to see that the recording did not go anywhere. It is in the meeting chat, with a message that it can be downloaded for 20 days.
The good news is that the recording can be saved. The bad news is that this is not as expected, and that people will need to take action to store it.
5. You can not create a Live Event
This is not a major issue, as organizing a large online event will generally be done by a few selected roles. An executive secretary, our Convention Bureau, communications etc.
An F3 colleague can produce and present, however, as described in this post.
This has nothing to do with the difference between web or desktop app – everyone in our organization has the Teams desktop app.
6. You do not have the Delve app
This is not mentioned anywhere in the comparison, so this was also a surprise when we found this. It is not too much of a limitation, as you can get there via your Office profile.
7. Agenda sharing issues with E3-colleagues
If an F3 colleague shares his or her agenda with an E3-licensed colleague, e.g. a group secretary, the secretary can only edit the agenda when using the Outlook web app.
This may have to do with the fact that there is no “desktop equivalent” in the F3-agenda. It is annoying though, as our secretaries generally prefer to work with Outlook desktop. We are trying to convince them that the Outlook web app is a joy to use, but so far most of them stick to desktop. 😢
Do you know any more quirks?
I have deliberately not mentioned a number in the title. Please let me know in the comments if you know something else, so we can create a shared resource!
This is a great opportunity to use one of the more than gorgeous letters of Simon Koay’s Superbet. F = Flash!
This isn’t a quirk related to F3 license, but I notice that now that videos are saving to OneDrive/SharePoint, the video player there does not allow for variable playback speed. In Stream, you can change the speed. I can’t find a way to do this in OneDrive. Thanks!
Ah, good one! I have not been using Stream much so I did not know this option. I was impressed that SP and OD finally have a video player at all. I remember the times when you had to download first, then open with a media player. 🙂
Hmmmm…differences between playing video in Stream and OD/SP – might be a blog. Thank you for the suggestion!
Looks like Microsoft has this on the roadmap “in development” with a release date of June CY2021. Feature ID: 68831. All your posts are helpful – thanks!
That is good to know. And thank you – glad it is helpful! Cheers, Ellen
Still trying to verify, but I heard F3 uses cant customize sharepoint forms with PowerApps? Can you check with one of your colleagues?
I will see what I can do – in any case I know the F3 can set workflows with Power Automate.
I know this is late, but I can say that O-F3 users can definitely create, share, publish canvas based powerapps. As of today, anyway. I’ve never really tried editing forms like “new item” in SharePoint though, so I can’t say.
F3 users cannot have a dedicated machine over 10.1 inches. This is the major issue for any normal user in the office. Used to be 60% use of the machine over 90 days. Total mess for my company…
Marketing data states they cannot use the apps on a device over 10.1″, the contract says it extends to F3. If you are not using this from your phone you are likely going to get an audit and a huge bill (3x) at true up. Ask me how I know…
Hi Bryan, thanks for the warning! I will check that with my colleagues who deal with the licenses. I thought it was the mobile apps that can only be used on a “smaller” device, but that they can use the web apps freely on a machine. I hope I am right, but will try to find out more.
We would like also to have less expensive licenses for our call center agents but below conditions restrict us. This is what I read from a MS presentation :
“User Eligibility: M/O365 F-SKU licenses may only be assigned to users without a Dedicated Device. A Dedicated Device is a computing device used for work with a 10.1” screen or larger, used by the user more than 60% of the user’s total work time during any 90-day period.”
Did you check with your licensing colleagues ?
Hi GOKTAN, what I understood from our licensing partner is that the device limitations are for the use of the mobile apps, but not for the browser version. Besides, many of our F3 users work on group laptops, shared Citrix devices, and on smartphone.
Hope that helps, but I admit that the whole licensing stuff is quite complicated. 🙂
Best regards, Ellen
I found this blog trying to figure out why my F3 license was encouraging me to download office apps- I have been following the F1/F3 license with interest since it was K1. I have not had reason to use it myself until a family emergency caused me to stand up a site collection and add family members. I got some F3 licenses, and some Business Basic licenses.
I can say with confidence that F3 can be run on a dedicated computer, no problem. I have been doing so without realizing I shouldn’t. Also, it definitely can create and share powerapps, because I did it. I haven’t tried a flow yet. My family members are technology phobic, so no streaming, sway, teams meetings- I can’t comment on if they work with the F3. The license seems to be capable of a lot of things that are downplayed or not listed. And I suspect it’s because no one has brought up the fact that it does more than it should- I bet locking the subscription down is more work than worth it for them, and that marketing it as underpowered is considered effective enough to cause the purchase of more expensive subs. That said, I also suspect they will gimp F3 further at any time they wish as well.
That said, I am honestly trying to find what exactly the difference is between Business Basic and F3 (except for the security, P2, and the supposed 300 license limit). They’re the same price.
Thank you! You are right, the Business Basic and F3 are much alike, but BB has the Delve app, and I can add a video to Stream, both of which can not be done with the F3. Interesting thought – I may want to make the comparison 🙂 The warning is for the downloaded apps, not for the web apps. The web apps are free and can be used as much as you like, and the downloaded apps can only be used on a “small” screen. That said, not sure if Microsoft really cares as long as you are not in an official license scheme. My organization has > 3000 users and we have an official licensing partner – we will be more on the radar than a family group.
Best wishes for your family and do teach them Teams – it may be nice for chat and meetings, safer than Whatsapp!
Best regards, Ellen
Thanks Ellen. I had not tried delve or stream, but you are right about them. The family members are really computer averse, so Delve showing up when they accidentally click something is not what I want. Honestly, the F1 license would have been *perfect* for them, except I need them to be able to use a powerapp to data enter into a list from their phones. Otherwise, they don’t want “another email to deal with”, onedrive, teams, office apps, delve, stream, sway, anything really.
To add to that, frankly, they prefer using a powerapp than anything else O365 related. Just open the app on the phone, enter stuff, close app. Done. They don’t even want to go to anything on the web at all. ‘Just an idea if you have an older relative (or worker) who doesn’t like new fangled things, but needs to enter shared stuff like expenses, tasks (who called the hospital last, what were the details, what are the next action items, who should be responsible for them), on a tablet or phone- then I really suggest powerapps and the F3 license for them.
This has been a stressful journey for me, and I wish I’d found your blog sooner.
I would love to know the real difference between Business Basic and O-F3 in your opinion. 🙂
Hi Cal, I am impressed that you have created and gotten your family members to work with PowerApps!
I am usually on the “creation”side of things and I am no fan of PowerApps because it is not always necessary within an organization, where most people sit at their desk at the PC anyway. And I think making a PowerApp is a lot of work, so you’d better have a very good reason to make one! But yours sounds like a very good use case.
I think the real difference is that F3 is an enterprise license, it will generally be used for employees who are not desk-bound (I work in a mental health care organization – so we have a lot of psychiatrists, nurses and other therapists who work with people, not with PC’s) in combination with the staff and management whose work is really PC-based.
The Business Basic is for a small business, so it should enable you to run a business with the tools provided. So I can image it has slightly more and different tools.
But this is just guesswork 🙂
Thanks for this overview. Are there any limits to Teams meetings? I know you can’t host / invite the meeting with f3, but are there additional limits to screen shareing or something?
Hi, you can organize meetings with F3, but not webinars or Live Events. I have not found any other issues yet, apart from the meeting recording storage.
Another point: i think you can use office 2016 pro or something link this with that license. Only Outlook 2016 would not work to connect to your exchange online mailbox.
Yes, you are right! I combine my M365 small business account with a Family desktop apps account. Works well!
hi, the 2GB storage limit, is it 2GB for outlook and another 2GB for OneDrive, or 2GB combined?
Hi, it is 2 GB for Outlook + 2 GB for OneDrive.
Can non F3’s like an E3 or E5 access an F3’s mailbox as a delegate such as access to calendar, inbox, etc?
I have no experience with E5, but I know that E3 users can only access items from F3 users when the E3 user uses the web apps to do so. I assume it works that way with E5 users too.
While you can’t connect to an F3 account with ‘full’ Microsoft Outlook, the built-in ‘Mail’ and ‘Calendar’ apps in Windows 10/11 do work, at least at this time.
Thanks for the addition, Chris! Good to know. Cheers, Ellen