Microsoft (MSFT), as promised, has made it easier for partners to shift customers from one Office 365 cloud plan to another. That's welcome news for SaaS partners and customers. But a lingering question remains: Do customers and partners really need such a long list of Office 365 plans and options?

Think of it this way: Microsoft now promotes at least seven different Office 365 for business plans. The include:

  • Two small business plans involve annual payments and are limited to 25 users.
  • One midsize plan (for up to 300 users) and four enterprise plans (unlimited users) that involve annual commitments.
  • Pricing ranges from $5 to $22 per user per month, depending on which plan you (or your customer) selects.

It's not all "that" complicated. And Microsoft is making it easier and easier to switch between plans. But overall, the Microsoft approach could be further simplified.

Google Apps: Simple

Just ask the Google Apps team and their channel resellers -- where partners can choose easily between Google Apps for Business or Google Apps for Business With Vault. Moreover, Google now offers flexible pricing and billing plans -- allowing partners and customers to choose between annual and monthly approaches. That's right: Google doesn't dictate the terms. Customers and partners can choose on their own monthly or annual approach.

In Microsoft's defense, the company has continually expanded the Office 365 suite with new products and services -- including the Yammer enterprise social network platform. And over time, it's a safe bet Microsoft will add complete hosted PBX services to Office 365.

So what's it gonna be: Google's partner program simplicity -- or Microsoft's increasingly diverse SaaS porfolio, which also introduces a range of partner decision points?