Power Apps, part of Microsoft’s Power Platform, comes with most Office 365 subscriptions. But Power Apps in Office 365 does not include the full capabilities of the tool. As Microsoft’s February 2020 licensing guide to Power Apps states, “Limited Power Apps use rights are included with select Office 365 licenses.” But what exactly does “limited” mean?

The licensing guide explains that there are two standalone plans for Power Apps – “per user, per app” and “per user, unlimited apps”. Those give an organization the full capabilities of Power Apps. They are an extra cost over and above the Office 365 subscription — $10/user/month for 2 apps and 1 portal or $40/user/month for unlimited apps and portals.

What comes with the Office 365 subscription, at no extra cost, is a limited version of Power Apps. This version, called “Seeded Power Apps”, includes the following:

  • Canvas Apps, but not Model-driven Apps
  • Standard Connectors, but not Premium or On-premises Connectors
  • Power Automate (formerly “Flow”) rights within the context of the Power Apps application
  • No use of the Common Data Service
  • No rights to use Power Apps Portals

Let’s examine these in detail.

Canvas Apps but not Model-driven Apps
Canvas apps start with a blank design screen; the designer builds the application from scratch. Model-driven apps use components based on data models and business processes, which makes it easier to build out applications that fit common business scenarios.

Standard Connectors, but not Premium or On-premises Connectors
A connector is a way to access business data, whether inside or outside the organization. Standard connectors link to some data sources within the Microsoft 365 environment as well as some services, usually free ones, outside that environment.

Premium connectors provide a much wider range of connection options, including to SQL Server, Dynamics 365 data, and paid-for outside services like Salesforce. Premium connectors also include the On-premises Data Gateway for connecting to SharePoint 2013, 2016, and 2019 data.

A complete list of connectors can be found at: https://flow.microsoft.com/en-us/connectors

Power Automate user rights
Office 365 subscriptions include Power Automate use rights to allow customizing and extending Office 365 applications. However, the use is limited to the context of the Office 365 application. If the flow is not part of an Office 365 application or if it needs to connect to a premium or on-premises data source, a standalone license for Power Automate is needed.

Power Automate standalone plans are $15/user/month for unlimited flows for that user or $500/month for 5 flows for unlimited users.

No use of the Common Data Service
Only Power Apps standalone plans come with the ability to use the Common Data Service. That capability is not included in the Office 365 subscription.

No rights to use Power Apps Portals
Power Apps Portals allow external users (whether authenticated or anonymous) to use Power Apps applications. However, the Power Apps Portals use the Common Data Service as a data source, and therefore, a standalone Power Apps plan is needed to use the Portals. The Office 365 subscription does not include use rights to Power Apps Portals.

The limited version of Power Apps that comes with an Office 365 subscription gives organizations the ability to create applications using the canvas apps interface and standard connectors. This may be sufficient for many organizations. But if premium connectors, on-premises gateways, or use of Power Apps Portals are needed, a Power Apps or Power Automate standalone plan will be required.

As Microsoft states in its licensing guide:

  • “Customers that need general purpose and full capabilities of the platform should license Power Apps on a standalone basis.”
  • “Customers that need full-fledged, general purpose workflow/business process automation capabilities, should consider purchasing standalone Power Automate licenses.”

But, of course, it is up to each organization to decide what features and capabilities it needs, and to determine the cost/benefit of sticking with the limited version of Power Apps that comes with the Office 365 subscription versus going with a standalone plan.