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I am a SharePoint admin and in our company and we are going to do migration from SP2016 to SPO. We recently bought O365 and SharePoint Online Plan 2. We purchased some E3 and F1 licenses. Can someone tell what roles E3 and F1 users play in SharePoint Online Plan 2? Can they(F1 users) be SharePoint administrators/Contributors? I assume there is no restriction for E3 users.

Also does a users(E3 or F1) has to be added to the O365 first in order to get access to SharePoint site apart from already being a Visitors or a Contributor in a SP site?

Thank you for you answer in advance. I think I can get my sleep back. :-)

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you can see the entire list of SPO Plan here. I'll began with answering your question.

  1. E3 vs F1: Both the license include access to SPO. You can consider F1 license as trimmed down license for O365, where user get access some of the services only, while the E3 license cover more services and E5 have all of them. For example, user will not access to MS Word Client/Desktop application with F1 license, but a E3 has access to it. Check the URL provided above on what are features included in that license.
  2. F1 User as SPO Admin: Yes, a user with F1 license can have the role of SPO Admin. Also they can be Site Collection Administrator/Owner/Contributor/Visitor for any SPO site.
  3. User need to be added to O365 first: The simple answer will be yes, they need to be part of O365 in order to access SPO sites. The long answer is, is you are connecting your local AD to Azure AD using Azure Active Directory Connect, then you need to added appropriate O365 license which include SPO to a given user, so that they get access to SPO.

Updates, follow-up questions:

  1. SPO Plan 2: Consider it as version of SharePoint. Like we had SharePoint Foundation, SharePoint Server and SharePoint Enterprise, in the similar manner we have plan available for SPO. These plans comes with different SharePoint features similar to on-prem one. So license will determine weather user has access to SPO or not and SPO Plan will determine what features they get on SPO. See here
  2. E3 vs F1: No it not only office applications. Its more than this, like F! license dont get access to Power platforms, video, streams etc. Checkout the above link, it covers all of this.
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  • Follow-up question: As I mentioned we have the SPO Plan 2. So both E3 and F1 users will have all the features from Plan 2? And the main difference between E3 and F1 is in accessing Office applications such as Word, Excel etc.,?
    – Kalai
    Sep 26 '19 at 12:45
  • Updated the answer. Sep 26 '19 at 15:52

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