Office 365 Google Apps Comparison Essay

You could also argue however that the simpler productivity tools bundled with G Suite generate a less steep learning curve for users who are new to online collaboration.

In terms of user interfaces, the Google apps feel less cluttered than those bundled with Microsoft Office, simply because they are not as feature packed. I personally much prefer working in Google Docs to the desktop version of Word, because there’s no load time and only a few menu options to be distracted by. My Google document is always saved to the cloud and I can pick up where I left off on it at any point, on any device.

The online version of MS Word lets you work in a similar fashion, it has to be said - but it just feels a bit more ‘fussy’ and in my experience takes a bit longer to load. But it is unquestionably better - as you might expect - for editing MS Office documents and saving them without creating problems with the formatting.

Ultimately I think both products are fairly straightforward to use - if editing MS Office files is going to be a big part of your job, then Office 365 will feel a lot more familiar and present less of a learning curve; if collaboration is more the concern, then G Suite is arguably a slightly better bet.

Working offline with G Suite and Office 365

Given that G Suite is essentially designed to run in a browser, a key question many potential Google Apps users typically have is "will I be able to work offline?" The answer is: yes. On a desktop computer, you'll need to do two things: 1) ensure that you've installed Google's Chrome browser and 2) switch on file syncing. This will allow you to access and edit Google documents, sheets and slides offline; any changes you make to them will be synced to the cloud when you reconnect to the Internet.

With regard to Gmail, there is an offline app available for it, which also requires Chrome to run - and again you'll need to ensure you download all your mail before going offline. The Gmail offline app is very similar to the mobile version of Gmail - and it's similarly annoying, because you can't switch the conversation view off. 

You can also work offline using Google's mobile apps - however, you have to let G Suite know that you want a particular file to be available offline first (by checking an option that downloads it to your mobile device). 

With Office 365, the best way to work offline on a desktop computer is by using the standard desktop applications in conjunction with the desktop version of OneDrive. As with G Suite, ensure you've synced everything to your desktop before going offline - you can then work on any file in Word, Excel etc. and when you reconnect to the Internet any changes you have made will be synced.

Office 365's mobile apps also let you work offline, but as with Google's mobile apps, you'll need to download individual files to your mobile device first to access them on the go.

Extending the functionality of G Suite and Office 365

If you are not happy with the functionality provided by the G Suite apps and Office 365, there are two ways you can extend the functionality of both suites of products.

The first, and simplest, is by installing an 'add on' to the products. Both Microsoft and Google have online stores that provide a wide range of apps to beef up their productivity tools - the 'Office Store' and 'Apps Marketplace' respectively. Both free and paid-for apps are available for both systems.

The other way to enhance the functionality of both products is to code something yourself. If you have the know-how, you can use the Microsoft or Google APIs (application program interfaces) to add a bespoke piece of functionality to your chosen set of productivity tools. You can read more about the Google Apps API on the Google Developers site; the relevant information about the Microsoft Office API can be found here.

You'll also find that there are a number of companies and developers who develop particular products that are designed to work 'over' G Suite and Office 365. (For example, we partner with a company called Refractiv to offer a tool called Overdrive that helps G Suite users to create sites, intranets, extranets and workspaces that feature data and documents stored on Google Drive.)

G Suite vs Office 365: the conclusions

After reading the above G Suite vs Office 365 comparison, I hope you have a clearer idea of why or when you might pick one of these products over the other.

For me, I would probably focus on six areas in making the final decision:

  • The need your organisation may have to edit MS Office documents
  • Your file storage requirements
  • Your email storage requirements
  • The nature of your working environment
  • IT implications
  • Scalability

If you work in an organisation that absolutely has to work with MS Office files regularly - and particularly if you need to use the advanced functionality that MS Office applications provide - then the natural choice is definitely going to be Office 365 (just make sure that you select a plan that includes the desktop applications).

Although G Suite can be used to produce and edit MS Office documents, this functionality is limited and you can expect hiccups when you try to edit and save a complex Office document or spreadsheet with a Google app. That said, G Suite technically allows you to edit both documents produced with Google Apps *and* MS Office apps - this is not true of Office 365. 

If your organisation sends and receives a large amount of mail, then might find yourself drawn towards a 'Business' G Suite plan, as these come with unlimited email storage. If you're on a budget however, and email storage is a big issue for you, you'll find that the Office 365 entry-level plans are considerably more generous when it comes to email storage.

If having a serious quantity of cloud storage available is your overriding concern, then the G Suite 'Business' plan is hard to argue with. So long as you intend to buy 5 or more G Suite accounts, for $10 per user per month, you get unlimited file storage and unlimited email storage - all the MS Office 365 plans, even the most expensive ones, cap the standard storage figure at 1TB.

The environment that you are hoping to deploy G Suite and Office 365 in should also be factored into your decision. If your organisation uses a wide mix of devices and operating systems, then you could potentially make life easier for your users by plumping for G Suite, which is designed to run online (ideally in a web browser but apps are available for all the major OS devices). With G Suite, it simply won’t matter whether your team members use Mac OS, Windows, Linux, Chrome OS...everything will look, feel and function exactly the same. But if your organisation is entirely MS Windows-based, there's a lot to be said for Microsoft Office 365 - a plan which involves the desktop apps will slot very neatly into such an environment. 

IT implications: whilst it’s always a good idea to have some IT resource available, the resource and IT cost implication for deploying, maintaining and supporting G Suite will in my view be lower than for Office 365, particularly if the desktop apps are involved. 

And finally, scalability: the more affordable Office 365 plans (the 'Business' ones) currently cap the numbers of users at 300 - no such limit applies to G Suite plans.

It’s a tough decision! But hopefully this review has helped resolve the Office 365 vs G Suite debate just a little bit for you. I’ll leave you with a summary of some reasons which you might prioritise one solution over the other. And if you have any thoughts on the Office 365 vs G Suite debate, please do make sure you share them in the comments section below!

Reasons to pick Office 365 over G Suite

  • Most Office 365 plans come with desktop versions of the Microsoft Office applications, making the product a much better fit for any organisation with clients that expect it be able to send, receive and edit MS Office files without difficulty. This is in my view by far the strongest argument for choosing Office 365.
  • The file storage and email storage quotas on the Office 365 entry level plan are much more generous than those provided by the G Suite entry level plan.
  • Outlook provides you with an easy means to sort and group mail - Gmail doesn’t (unless you use a client like Outlook or Thunderbird to access it).
  • You can have far more participants on a Skype call than a Hangout - 250 vs 25 respectively.
  • More advanced phone call management options are available with Office 365.
  • It’s easier to share files on desktop computers using the sync app for Microsoft’s OneDrive than the Google Drive equivalent.
  • More advanced functionality regarding virus protection and rights management is available with MS Office 365 (for a price, though).
  • Office 365 may provide a more natural fit for businesses that are exclusively Windows-based (more apps - notably Access and Publisher - are available on the Windows-based version, along with performance monitoring tools too).

You can try Office 365 here.

Reasons to pick G Suite over Office 365

  • File storage: at $10 per user per month, the Google Unlimited Plan is better value data-wise than most of the Microsoft plans, giving you an unlimited amount of cloud storage to play with (as long as you are buying 5+ G Suite accounts).
  • It’s very scalable - there are no limits on the number of users regardless of what plan you’re on (the cheaper Office ‘Business’ plans cap the number of your users at 300).
  • G Suite was built as collaboration-focused solution, and as such its collaboration features are arguably a bit stronger.
  • eDiscovery, site building tools, email archiving and legal holds on inboxes (amongst other advanced features) are available for a lower cost with G Suite.
  • The Google Apps interfaces are clean and, so long as a good internet connection is being used, the apps load fast (certainly faster than Microsoft Office desktop equivalents).
  • It’s a good solution for businesses where multiple devices and operating systems are used.
  • There are a large number of third party web applications which integrate neatly with the G Suite apps and enhance their functionality.
  • The fact that everything is cloud-based may encourage users to use the cloud more, with all the collaboration-related benefits this brings.

You can try G Suite here.

Alternatives to Office 365 and G Suite

The main alternatives to Office 365 and G Suite are probably Apple's iWork suite of products and Open Office.

Which is Better for Your Business – G Suite or Office 365?

Written by Brad Slavin0 comment

A comparison of business features and pricing

How Do I Choose the Right Productivity Suite for My Business?

We have a bottom line up front approach to our writing. We don’t want to save the best until last, we put it right up front and then provide you the reasoning behind our choice. However to make a good decision, it’s important to ask multiple questions about your business and how you plan to use the productivity suite.

 

How will legal compliance with special regulations be affected by my choice?

Always communicate with representatives from G Suite and Office 365 to get the most up-to-date details on the scope of legal compliance offered. This could be a deciding factor, depending upon the industries your business serves. Ask specific questions that pertain to the special laws such as HIPAA and FISMA you must follow.  Here’s what this Microsoft white paper says about compliance across its products:

Legal requirements in one country or industry may be inconsistent with legal requirements applicable elsewhere. As a provider of global cloud services, we must run our services with common operational practices and features across multiple customers and jurisdictions. To help our customers comply with their own requirements, we build our services with common privacy and security requirements in mind, and our built-in capabilities help enable compliance with a wide range of regulations and privacy mandates.

However, it is ultimately up to our customers to evaluate our offerings against their own requirements, so they can determine whether our services satisfy their regulatory needs. We are committed to providing our customers detailed information about our cloud services to help them make their own regulatory assessments.”

Throughout the remainder of the aforementioned white paper, Microsoft makes it clear that businesses using any of its products or services are responsible for ensuring that their data is processed and stored in compliance with all applicable laws in each jurisdiction. For those concerned about GDPR compliance, there is no mention of it in this white paper. Overall, it appears that Microsoft claims that it won’t be responsible for any compliance issues that may arise as a result of using any of its products or services, including Office 365.

This is in clear contrast with Google, which is taking a proactive approach to be as compliant as possible, although Google doesn’t go so far as to say they can be held responsible for any gaps in compliance that may result from using its products and services. In terms of regulatory compliance, it appears that Google is a clear winner for its proactive approach, its robust regulatory compliance efforts, and not declaring it cannot be held responsible for gaps in regulatory compliance.

Does the history of my company being on Exchange server mean that I’ll end up on Office 365?

You are not locked into using Office 365, even if your digital assets reside on an Exchange server. G Suite provides a tool that can help you with the migration of email and contacts from your Exchange Server to your business Google Drive. To migrate other content, you may want to consult with a third-party vendor that provides migration services for G Suite and Microsoft Exchange.

Can I switch from G Suite to Office 365?

While it is possible to switch from G Suite to Office 365, Microsoft does not provide the tools for this. However, there are third-party migration services that can migrate your G suite email and content to Office 365.

What Sized Business Does Each Cater To?

With G Suite, it’s difficult to get a breakdown of paid business accounts by business size, especially since it is working hard to woo large enterprise clients, such as Verizon. Having said that, most of the reviews for G Suite seem to come from SMBs rather than large corporations. The simple, self-serve nature of G Suite’s pricing lends itself well to businesses with clearly defined needs that can be met with G Suite products and services.

Like G Suite, Office 365 doesn’t have a breakdown of business clients based on business size. Complex pricing and services would make it even more difficult to parse. Businesses that are not sure exactly what they need in terms of Microsoft products and services may benefit more from a consultation with a Microsoft representative to define business needs and the options available to meet those needs.

Which One Wins?

For smaller businesses with users who love web apps, G Suite wins. It’s affordable and has powerful enough features to meet most small business needs.

For bigger businesses that need desktop-level features and functionality in their productivity suite, Office 365 is the clear winner. It offers desktop versions of all its productivity apps, making it easy to work offline.

Background

Office 365, the latest iteration of the Microsoft productivity suite, has a lion’s share of the enterprise market, but G Suite is trying to catch up. At a recent earnings call, Sundar Pichai announced that G Suite has surpassed 3 million paid business accounts. Each of these suites has powerful tools and features tailored for enterprise use.

So, which one is best for your business? See what we found through our comparison of these two productivity suites that offers insights to help you decide which one is best for your business.  

Lets start with G Suite.

 

 

G Suite Features and Pricing

G Suite, formerly known as Google Apps, offers multiple features and a simple pricing structure, but what makes it a compelling choice for business email hosting?

Google Apps Sync

You can still use your favorite email clients and don’t need to be forced to quit your Outlook habit by switching to the G Suite. You don’t need to use the web mail interface to leverage the power or G Suite.

The Google Apps Sync app is super easy to set up and provides two-way syncing between email, contacts, and calendars. However, features that are unique to G Suite will not be accessible while using Outlook. Unfortunately it only works with the Windows versions of Outlook and Mac users will be unable to use sync.

Single Sign-on for Other Applications

Business users can be setup to use G Suite credentials to sign into other applications that offer single sign-on capabilities, such as Marketo and Slack. When dealing with several apps, this can be a huge time saver. This is a big deal, your users will not have to manage multiple accounts with different passwords to access the services that they use every day. SSO simplifies that authentication and allows administrators to manage policies around their network.

G Suite Pricing

Pricing for G Suite is simple and easy to understand. Straightforward pricing is in three tiers, with the option to pay a monthly fee or a discounted annual fee.

G Suite Pricing and Features

  • Basic — $5/user per month
    • Productivity suite with 30GB of data storage
  • Business — $10/user per month
    • Enhanced productivity suite with unlimited storage and data archiving
  • Enterprise — $25/user per month
    • Premium productivity suite with advanced admin controls and capabilities

This approach to pricing is great for self-serve customers who know what they want and don’t need additional services.

G Suite Security, Data Protection, and Compliance

One of the greatest concerns businesses have about moving to the cloud is security. G Suite provides robust controls for managing user access and protection of data in transit and at rest.

User Access

Administrators can easily manage user accounts with granular control over access and user permissions. This helps prevent access to and sharing of sensitive information by employees with unauthorized third parties.

Regulatory Compliance

Legal compliance can be difficult, especially for digital assets stored in the cloud. Google is contractually committed to the following:

G suite Compliance Certifications

  • ISO 27001, 27018
  • SOC 2, SOC 3
  • HIPAA
  • FERPA
  • COPPA

EU Data Protection Directive and GDPR

Google uses EU Model Contract Clauses to comply with the Data Protection Directive. When it goes into effect, Google will be compliant with the GFPR, with the following considerations:

“G Suite and Google Cloud Platform customers will typically act as the data controller for any personal data they provide to Google in connection with their use of Google’s services. The data controller determines the purposes and means of processing personal data, while the data processor processes data on behalf of the data controller. Google is a data processor and processes personal data on behalf of the data controller when the controller is using G Suite or Google Cloud Platform.”

Google advises any business that gathers, processes, or stores data that originates in the EU to seek legal consultation to determine its status and compliance obligations.

G Suite Limitations

For all of the powerful tools and features, G Suite still lacks the functionality of desktop apps. It also lacks native macros. Instead, G Suite has Apps Script, a tool you can use to automate Google Docs and Sheets.

Google Docs can only be saved in a document format (.doc, .docx, or .odf),  and can only be edited in a browser. You cannot save a Google document in its native format to your desktop.

G Suite Rating

Overall, G Suite is a solid, if lightweight, productivity suite. It is easy to use, with the features that most business users will need.

We use it in our office, but it would not be our recommendation to most small businesses unless they are comfortable with a Web first approach to document creation, and if they are not Excel power users.

 

Microsoft Office 365

The Office 365 suite is built on a legacy of Microsoft products that date back to 1989, the year the first Microsoft Office suite was made available for Mac computers. As of February this year, Office 365 had 24.9 million subscribers. This does not include the millions (billions?) of commercial Microsoft Office users.

What does Office 365 offer that makes it an attractive option for business?

Single Sign-On

Office 365 doesn’t have true SSO capabilities. Instead, it offers a tool, the Microsoft Online Services Sign-in Assistant (MOS SIA), to make it easier to sign into the various Office 365 apps. They have not made it easy for software developers to connect their apps to Microsoft authentication, and this is why you see Facebook and Google as a login option on site – but not Microsoft.

Office 365 Features and Pricing

28 years of product development back this powerful productivity suite with not-so-simple pricing, and it shows. Office 365 includes desktop versions of each productivity app, giving the business user the power and convenience of a cloud-based productivity suite with desktop features and performance.

Office 365 Security, Data Protection, and Compliance

Office 365 has multiple certifications, as follows:

Compliance and Reporting Certifications

  • ISO 27001
  • ISO 27018
  • SSAE16 SOC1 Type II
  • SOC2 Type II
  • FISMA

Office 365 Pricing

It’s no secret that Office 365 pricing is complex and confusing, with a wide array of add-on services that may be most appropriate for larger businesses with an existing Microsoft Office and Exchange infrastructure.

OMG this has to be the WORST part of dealing with Office 365. Google is pretty much a direct sales channel, they don’t have a huge number of legacy IT companies or value added resellers that have to make money by selling the product. But Microsoft has a huge reseller market and their pricing is extremely convoluted. Knowing which license to buy, who to buy it from and how to get the best deal may take almost as long as the process of migrating the the cloud.

Unlike G Suite, Office 365 requires a minimum one-year commitment, with pricing as follows:

Microsoft Office 365 Pricing and Features

  • Office 365 Business Essentials — $5/user per month, with annual commitment
    • Business email, other business services
    • Office applications NOT included
  • Office 365 Business — $8.25/user per month, with annual commitment
    • Office applications
    • Cloud file storage and sharing
  • Office 365 Business Premium — $12.50/user per month, with annual commitment
    • Business email, other business services
    • Office applications

Check Office 365 pricing

Office 365 Limitations

Microsoft is notorious for its complex pricing. Difficult and confusing, it’s virtually impossible for the average business person to figure out what she really needs, let alone come up with an accurate estimate on how much it will cost. Startups and small businesses may want to consult with a Microsoft sales representative to help them determine which tier is the best fit for their business, along with other Microsoft services.

Did you skip to the bottom to read our summary?

For smaller businesses with users who love web apps, G Suite wins. It’s affordable and has powerful enough features to meet most small business needs.

For bigger businesses that need desktop-level features and functionality in their productivity suite, Office 365 is the clear winner. It offers desktop versions of all its productivity apps, making it easy to work offline.

 

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