Microsoft Project Online: What licenses do I need?

Posted By Posted by: Dan Stopher on March 8, 2019

There have been many times I’ve been asked about what Project Online license was required for a particular function and struggled to provide a solid answer based on the information available on Microsoft Project Online licenses comparison table here.

At a high level, the information on the comparison table is useful. But when faced with specific questions like, “What licence do I need if all I want to do is respond as a Resource Manager to an engagement request?”, this proven to be difficult to answer.

Microsoft has now released a much more granular table that lists out features available to users in detail and simply shows which licenses will support it. This means working out what license is required for a particular Feature is a breeze. See the feature availability table from Microsoft here.

To start with, we have a summary table that will answer 90% of your questions:

Project Online Plans

Plan Description Target users

Project Online Essentials Web-based interface for team members

Update tasks, issues and risksSubmit timesheets

Share documents and collaborate with Skype for Business presence
Team members

Project Online Professional All of the Project Online Essentials functionality, plus:

Rich user interface through desktop client 

Anytime/anywhere access through web interface 

Project scheduling and costing 

Resource management 

Publishing projects to the cloud 

Includes the most current version of the Project desktop application, instantly streamed to your Windows PC. 

Each subscription license allows for up to five concurrent installations of the Project desktop application. 

Project managers



Project Online Premium All of the Project Online Professional functionality, plus: 

Portfolio selection and optimization 

Demand management 

Enterprise resource management 

Out-of-box portfolio reports 

Portfolio and resource managers

Project Online Essentials, Project Online Professional, and Project Online Premium are also offered as part of Office 365, operated by 21Vianet, a version of Office 365 that is specific to China.


To collaborate on a project site – unfortunately, a SharePoint licence doesn’t quite cut it. At a minimum, Project Online Essentials is required. Project Online licensing for external users follows the same policy as that for internal users. Any interaction on a Project Online site requires a Project Online license.

The other interesting thing is that the title of the page is Project Online Service Description.

Microsoft has assured us that the New Project Service will be available with existing Project Online licenses and the heading makes me speculate that this page has been put together with the “to be” state in mind. We will have to wait and see for that one but in the meantime, I hope you find the links as helpful as I did.

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