It was in 2006 when Google introduced its business productivity suite, which was first known as Google Apps for Your Domain. The collection was renamed to Google Apps for Work (or just Google Apps) and finally rebranded as G Suite 10 years later. G Suite is now known as Google Workspace. For now, I’ll keep to naming them G Suite.
In 2011, Microsoft finally released its answer to Google Suite, which was called Office 365. If you are a business owner, freelancer, or someone who needs office software applications, you will certainly benefit from the two. However, it does not mean you should get both. You want to know which among them will better suit your needs.
To determine whether you should opt for the line of subscription services from Microsoft (Office 365) or Google (G Suite), let us take an in-depth look at their features, pricing, capabilities, and more.
Who Can Use Them?
If you have a small to a mid-sized organization and you wish to move to the cloud, you will find Google and Microsoft both have wonderful offers for your business. They do have similar applications and services, including spreadsheets, word processors, and file storage. There are of course differences between the two.
Although geared toward small to midsize (or even large companies), anyone can use these productivity suites from the two tech giants. If you need software as a service (SaaS) products to make sure everything runs smoothly for your work, website, and other things, you will benefit from Google’s and Microsoft’s products.
Office 365 has Business and Enterprise plans, as well as Home and Personal offerings. The latter options are designed for individuals who mostly work on their own. If you are looking for a strong service for custom domains, you are better off with the Business and Enterprise plans.
Office 365 vs. Google Suite at a Glance
First off, let us take on the similarities between the two. It is important to know that both Google and Office 365 offer comparable subscription services, including:
- Business email services linked to a custom domain
- Shared calendar
- Online storage
- Collaboration-enabled space
- Huge storage space for personal use or every account
- Messaging tools
- Video conferencing tools
- Apps for online meetings or conferences
- Spreadsheet apps
- Presentation apps
- Apps for document creation and collaboration
- Management interface
- Security features with two-factor authentication
- Storage on the cloud
These two companies have been the top names on the market, especially in the technology industry of enterprise productivity.
Despite the similarities, G Suite is different from Office 365 and vice versa. They have their own approach, particularly in terms of the design of their apps. Even their cloud architecture appears different. Nevertheless, they have robust data centers supporting their cloud services, making them reliable software applications for companies around the world.
Choosing Between Google vs Office 365
As you can see from above, the two do have the same features but with a unique approach. For many users, choosing between the two can be a challenge. Typically, it helps to opt for the service based on your installed hardware.
We all know about the Office franchise from Microsoft, which has been around for decades. MS Office was launched in at the end of 1990 but Word and the other apps have existed for longer. Word was invented in October 1983, Excel in September 1985, and PowerPoint in 1987.
The Office 365 approach is built on the desktop apps as well, which you can now access through the Click-to-Run packages. The productivity suite also comes with backend services, such as OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, and Exchange Online.
Since the users may be familiar with the apps mentioned, it is easy to understand the features of the service. Plus, the backend services allow users to migrate quickly to the cloud. You can have your employees access the services through Excel, Word, and other familiar Office programs. Alternatively, they can utilize web-based apps.
On the other hand, Google settles for a cloud approach where the users mainly have to use their browses to access the productivity tools. If you have used Google Docs and Google Sheets before, you will also find the process simple.
Google has included a number of familiar apps, such as Google Drive and email, which you can access through the Chrome browser for offline storage support.
Office 365 and G Suite both offer management consoles that you can access through the web. They are designed for larger corporations but midsized businesses can benefit from them as well. The management tools may also be helpful for smaller companies but they are not advisable for those without a dedicated IT department.
Side by Side Comparison
G Suite and Office 365 are both great for businesses, thanks to their comprehensive set of collaboration services. If you are in the middle of deciding whether to go for Office 365 or Google’s collection, the following points may help you:
By now, most people are used to Gmail with about 1.5 billion users who actively use the service in 2018. In contrast, MS’ email client has a little over 400 million users in early 2018. These two apps are both included in the productivity suites and are used for emails.
As for email storage, users will have 30GB for G Suite but can be upgraded to unlimited storage. Office 365, on the other hand, offers 50GB for the whole life of the subscription.
As for the cloud, G Suite offers 30GB of capacity as well. Office 365 comes with 1TB, which is much bigger than what Google offers. However, Google does allow upgrades that can give you unlimited storage.
Word processing for Office 365 is performed in MS Word while Google Docs is the web-based utility for creating documents for Google Suite.
Google Sheets is the spreadsheet application for Google. It is also web-based and has a similar interface with MS Excel. If you have been using one of the two, you will find that they have similar functions, which can make the move easier.
If you need a presentation app, MS PowerPoint is still the main piece of software for Office 365. On the other hand, Google has Google Slides, which is quite similar to Microsoft’s application. There are a wide variety of free Powerpoint and Google Slides templates out there.
For Office 365 users, they can use Skype while Google sticks with Hangouts or Voice.
Office 365 can be used on the web and on both iOS and Android – just like with G Suite. The only difference is that you cannot work on Google’s version if you have a Windows Phone. You can, of course, use Google on a Windows desktop.
Both services are not available for Linux users.
The file synchronization service for Google is called Google Drive, which also acts as a file storage app for the users. As for Office 365, OneDrive is the shared file service. Both give online and offline access to shared files.
Perhaps a huge plus with Office 365 is that you can quickly migrate to this service even if you have thousands of folders. At the same time, you can retain the Active Directory privileges that you currently enjoy.
Meanwhile, most businesses have already moved to Google Drive for the past several years now. It is easy to use and understand. The only problem is that it is difficult to move or save files to Google Drive if they come from third-party cloud service.
When it comes to collaborating with the employees or other people, Google answers SharePoint with Sites. This facility allows you to create and share details or information about a current project with the other members of the team.
As for SharePoint, you can create and share details with your employees or coworkers through a web-based app. You can then edit the spreadsheets or documents online at the same time.
Google lets you add third-party apps to its email client and other services included in the suite. Office 365 also accepts certain apps from other companies, which help enhance your use of the product.
Also, many cloud services easily integrate with Office 365 and G Suite. Therefore, you will not have a problem if you plan to stay in the cloud.
An In-Depth Look at the Features
Office 365 and G Suite have a range of essential applications. Both come with well-known tools, including Word and Google Docs. Let us take a look at each of the main features of the two services so you can decide even better:
We all know about MS Word but Google Docs has been quite popular as well. The online app takes on a minimalistic approach. It is straightforward and only has a few buttons and options. On the other hand, Word offers heavy-duty features for creating documents.
Compared to Word, there are a lot of things you cannot do on Google Docs. Since it is browser-based, you do not need to install anything, which may be advantageous at some point. The problem now though is that you cannot access the program without an Internet connection.
A workaround is to use Google Drive, along with Chrome. These two will together so you can open the files without needing to stay connected to the Internet. It is required though that you set Drive to work offline for you. Alternatively, you can download the file to your computer.
Google Docs also does not have other features, especially in formatting and the technical department. It does look very basic when placed side by side with MS Word. However, its simplicity may be its strength as well. A lot of Word users barely touch the other features of the software. Some would even say they are unnecessary and just adds to the space that Word takes up.
Real-time editing and sharing are also excellent in Google Docs. It also highlights and notifies the other users if someone makes changes on the document. When it comes to convenience, Docs may be a better option.
It is not to say that Word is inferior because it is still a top processor after so many years of being around. Its interface feels and looks familiar to users. Plus, it is packed with numerous features.
Office 365 gives both online and desktop versions of the program. For those who need comprehensive document processing and editing, the desktop version is more suitable for them. Moving from Google Docs or other applications to Work is easy, perhaps because of its familiar design.
In September 2018, Microsoft announced new features for Office 365. One notable feature is the new Search function, which combines Bing technology and Graph. This way, users will receive search results right in their Office document so there is no need to leave the program.
Another addition is the “Ideas” pane where you can get smart design, layout, and other recommendations for your document. It helps speed up the whole process of document editing.
If you have used both Excel and Sheets, you will instantly know the difference. The former is superior, especially for those who need more than just tabulating their data. Excel is designed to handle complex calculations, charts, and tables, and more. It can also handle imports and exports, including sizable ones.
Once again in September 2018, it was announced that Excel will have a few enhancements. The goal is to help users transform the way they manage data. There are also functionality improvements, including a better lookup function.
Although Google may need to up their game in this arena, it does not mean its own program is lackluster. It is not able to handle the same amount of data that Excel can take but it has a few good capabilities. If you only need to perform light tasks on spreadsheets, you will find that this app is useful.
It can also create graphs and do certain actions, such as calculating auto-fill sums. It can also convert data into insights and create maps as well. Nevertheless, if you expect the same functionality as with Excel, you will be disappointed.
Both MS Office 365 and Google Apps have strong email clients in the form of Outlook and Gmail respectively. Just like with other email clients, they have similar features and design. They also perform the same function where they receive and send your emails.
Of course, these two email clients have unique characteristics. However, the main difference between the two lies in their pricing structure. Office 365 Business Essentials give 50GB of storage, along with 1TB of additional storage for files. It can be used by up to 300 people.
On the other hand, Google gives bigger storage space for users. The Business package gives you unlimited mailbox storage and 1TB of file or cloud storage. You can add as many email accounts as you like because there is no limit in the number of users.
As for the design, Google’s email client retains its simple looks while Office 365 is a bit more feature-rich, particularly its desktop client.
When it comes to speed, it is safe to say that Office’s email cannot match the speed of Google’s mail. It is also easy to use and manage. However, it does come with features that are missing in Google. One feature is that users can create rules that define how their emails will be managed.
At this time, Google is trying to implement the Smart Compose to the productivity suite, which will be launched soon. Just like on the desktop and mobile clients, Smart Compose allows the program to provide autocomplete suggestions. This way, answering emails will be much faster and more convenient for users.
Both Outlook and Google mail come with calendars linked to the accounts of the users. Therefore, you will receive emails that will notify you of an upcoming meeting and other events. The calendars can also be used to record the conference and even find available meeting rooms. The content of the calendars can be viewed straight inside the inbox of the users.
Office 365 has an email client for web users and it is much more simplified, easily rivaling Google’s design. Even first-time users can quickly navigate through the buttons and the rest of the features of the web client. Plus, it has sorting and search capabilities that are much more responsive than before.
On the other hand, Google announced its biggest update to its email client, including improved security controls. It also has new features, such as one-click unsubscribe and email snoozing.
To complete the top features of these two business suites, we have their collaboration tools. They both come with solid features. For Office 365, Teams is present, which is a chat-based workplace. Users can create a group where they can talk to everyone like a conference and send specific persons private messages.
Teams also allow sending of files. To make sure you do not miss when your name is mentioned, the chat is highlighted with an exclamation point or a red flag to call your attention.
The program is announced to have some big updates, including video conferencing improvements. These enhancements include background blurring and increased focus on the person’s face when in a video call. A transcribe function will also be added in which it generates a word that other people can search for during the meetings.
As for Google, Hangouts is the instant messaging option that comes with screen-sharing and other useful components. Just like with the rest of Google’s offers, Hangouts thrives on minimalism. For basic use of instant messaging and video conferencing, Hangouts may be the preferred tool.
However, Hangouts is too simplistic that it misses out on several features that you can find on MS Teams. For instance, Google Hangouts lets you create group chats but you are the only one who can add more people. MS Teams, on the other hand, lets you have different channels. You can have one that is open for everyone to join, while there is another for sales and another for marketing.
If you want a no-nonsense program for chatting and calling, Hangouts is a good option. It is easy to use but is only advisable for uncomplicated tasks. However, if you expect more than just sending messages and calling, Teams is a much better choice.
Packages and Software Inclusions
As with the features and functions demonstrated above, Google stays true to its roots with simple packages for the users. It has three G Suite plans while Office 365 comes with various selections. It will be explained in detail in the next section below.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to compare the two services because of the differences between them. However, they do have a few similarities, particularly with how the plans are structured. All the plans from Google come with the following applications:
- Gmail for Business
- Shared calendars
- Hangouts Chat
- Google Docs
- Google Sheets
- Google Slides
- Video and Voice Conferencing through Hangouts Meet
- A minimum of 30GB of Google Drive in the cloud file storage
- Administrative and security controls
This productivity suite is in two forms: Business and Enterprise. They come with cloud search, eDiscovery, and archiving options. Users can also limit the access of other people to the content and applications by checking the geographic region among others.
On the other hand, Office 365 is available in two forms: a suite of cloud-based features and the other comes with downloadable and ready to install Office apps. You can install these desktop applications on up to 15 devices for every user. Therefore, you can use it on five different tablets, Macs or PCs, and smartphones. Users can opt for both sets for their convenience.
The collection of apps for Office 365 includes the following:
- 1TB (at least) of storage for every OneDrive user for Business
- Web-based versions of the word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tools
Access and Publisher are also included but can only be installed on Windows PCs. Office 365 comes with cloud-based services for the users as well, including:
- Exchange Online as the email hosting platform, allowing up to 50GB (100GB for other users depending on the plan)
- Browser clients for Word and other Office applications
- SharePoint Online Team sites
- Skype Meeting Broadcast
- MS Teams for live events
- High-definition video conferencing
- Secure collaboration and chatting through MS Teams
- Security controls
- Administrative capabilities
Office 365’s Business plan includes Customer Manager, along with other customer relation applications like MS Invoicing and Bookings. As for Enterprise, there are team-based management apps, such as MS Planner, Yammer for collaboration, and eDiscovery with advanced features.
Pricing: G Suite
G Suite has three different plans that are explained below:
Basic for $6 per month:
This plan is good for smaller businesses. It comes with Google’s flagship email client, along with a custom domain. The Basic plan also has some Google productivity apps that you can access on the web. Cloud storage space is ample at 30GB for every user. The files can be shared on email and Drive. Users are billed every month and you are allowed to remove or add licenses anytime you find convenient.
Business for $12 monthly:
With this plan, you get a huge upgrade from the Basic plan. It has enhanced security and controls for managing the users and accounts. It also has eDiscovery and archiving features. Storage is capped at 1TB per user but you will have unlimited Drive storage if you subscribe more than five users. With Team Drive, groups can share documents seamlessly.
Enterprise for $25 monthly:
As you can see, the price difference is quite significant. Therefore, you expect better functions and features when you opt for this plan. Google promises to provide enhanced security features with S/MIME encryption among others. The plan also supports hardware-based keys and locking down of shared files. Leak detection and email scanning are added capabilities as well.
Pricing Office 365
When it comes to plans, Office 365 provides a ton of options, which can be quite confusing. However, here is a simple breakdown of the plans:
Business Essentials for $5 monthly:
This plan is the equivalent of the Basic plan from Google. It gives a total of 1TB of storage on the cloud, along with web versions of the productivity tools, such as Word. There are no desktop apps but you can use MS Teams and SharePoint.
Business for $8.25 monthly:
For smaller organizations, this plan is a good option, especially those that do not need a business email. Business comes with Click-to-Run desktop programs, along with at least 1TB of storage usable for each account. This plan, however, does not come with Teams and SharePoint.
Business Premium for $12.50 monthly:
You may think of this plan as a combination of Business Essentials and Business plans. It has cloud features, along with Office desktop applications. It also has Customer Manager and Invoicing. Note that all three Business plan options have a limit of 300 users for one company.
ProPlus for $12 monthly:
If you need more than 300 slots for the user number, you can opt for ProPlus. It replaces your existing licenses so you can use Office 365 apps for desktop PCs. If you need an account with more than five users, this plan will give unlimited storage.
Enterprise E1 for $8 monthly:
For the basic plan in the Enterprise level, E1 comes with the standard cloud services, along with 50GB storage for email. For files, you can add up to 1TB of files. Note that this option does not come with desktop applications.
Enterprise E3 for $20 monthly:
This plan has similar services as E1 except that it adds all the desktop programs that Office is known for. It also increased the mailbox size to 100GB for each user and unlimited drive storage. For Administrators, they can enjoy eDiscovery features.
Enterprise E5 for $35 per month:
Microsoft guarantees that organizations will be satisfied with this top of the line plan. It has all the features that you can see on E3 with the addition of better security. It has eDiscovery and Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection. On the cloud, it has a robust security system with Cloud App Security. This plan comes with combined communication features that allow integration with other phone systems.
The prices above require the user to subscribe for the plan annually since month-to-month costs are much more expensive.
Which One is Better?
Both G Suite and MS Office 365 offer almost the same functionality. You will find a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and file storage on these two productivity suites. They also have security and cloud services for users.
There are also huge differences, including the fact that Office comes with both cloud and desktop deployments. On the other hand, Google only focuses on the cloud.
If you have been contemplating between purchasing Google’s productivity suite or MS Office 365, you are not alone. The features are important, but you will also have to consider other factors, including the price. It is also essential that you think about whether or not the service is easy to roll out across the whole organization.
To make the selection much simpler, your choice should be based ultimately on what your business requires. Consider the price, ease of use, and your storage needs to come up with the best decision. Also, it helps that you factor in the size of your business.
Smaller companies typically do not have much legacy infrastructure. Therefore, it should not be difficult to select because a full cloud-based productivity suite should suffice. Meanwhile, a larger company may require some time to transition from a different service to another.
Both Microsoft and Google have on-premise and cloud suites. Google chooses to stay on the real-time collaboration path while MS Office 365 is more on the familiarity of the users with its products. Therefore, the transition should be easy and quick.
When it comes to sharing, collaboration, and simplicity, you can safely say that Google comes out on top with G Suite. However, Microsoft Office 365 offers a feature-rich suite with the ability to process detailed documents and huge data sizes.