Examining the limitations and benefits of Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite
There’s a lot of talks lately about the comparison between Microsoft’s Office 365 and Google’s G Suite as software platforms for business. Both platforms allow businesses to be more productive and centralize company data for easy and customizable access.
However, our clients ask us all the time – what’s the real difference? Is one platform more valuable than the other? While both platforms have similar features, they were built from completely different backgrounds. So, we’ve created a fool-proof guide to help you decided which platform is best for your business.
The Big Picture: An Overview of Each Platform
When we say that these platforms come from different backgrounds, we’re not kidding. Office 365 is the latest in a long legacy of Microsoft products. The Microsoft Office apps have been around for a long time, in various fashions. They’re very familiar to business users because they’ve been around since nearly the beginning of personal computing.
Google, on the other hand, maybe a household name, but their foray into software platforms for business has only just begun. They started years ago by creating the infamous Google search engine, and over time they’ve increased user capability adding apps like Google Docs and Gmail. They eventually combined their growing group of applications into one bundle – first titled Google Apps, then Google for Work and now, the latest version has been dubbed G Suite.
Before we get into the specifics, here’s a brief rundown on each platform:
- Built for power.
- Offered for web and desktop (although, the web version has limited features compared to desktop version).
- Accessible via Window’s Mac OS and all mobile platforms.
- Built for collaboration.
- Offered for web only. Offline use via a Chrome browser is possible when file syncing is enabled, but there are no native desktop versions for G Suite apps.
- Accessible via Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android.
It should be noted that there are pros and cons to the web vs. server options. Web versions are focused on speed, stability, and access, which is great. However, the real meat and potatoes – namely, the more dynamic and rich feature sets are more powerful on desktop versions, like that offered through Office 365.
The Big Three: Business Documents, Spreadsheets & Presentations
Alright, let’s start getting down to the specifics. First and foremost, it’s important to break down how each platform allows businesses to create and share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. While G Suite has a collection of apps that mirror Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, let’s take a look at how the G Suite versions measure up to the familiar versions in Office 365.
- Word Vs. Docs
Microsoft Word is fully featured, familiar, designed for power and has had years on the market to iron out bugs and optimize features. Even better? The most recent versions of Word have added collaborative capacities that keep up with G Suite. And, with native, server versions of the app, there are additional layers of security to protect data.
Google Docs is more minimalist, designed with collaboration in mind. While it’s similar to Word, the interface isn’t as familiar and doesn’t operate as seamlessly. Also, since Docs has no native version, there’s the increased risk to lose data integrity when moving between the on-server versions of Word and the web-based Docs app.
- Excel vs. Sheets
When it comes to creating intelligent business spreadsheets, Excel is the most robust and complete option. Excel has advanced formatting and scripting features are great for analyzing macros and has the ability to run programs that are more complex directly from the Excel platform. This dynamic feature set, built for business intelligence, just isn’t available in Google Sheets.
Sheets is a barebones spreadsheet application. It’s great for keeping track of contacts and doing basic math equations. The app also has a built-in chat window to discuss spreadsheet changes and collaborate in real time. But when it comes to investigative data, pivot tables, and business intelligence, Sheets offers much less functionality.
- PowerPoint vs. Slides
PowerPoint is the dynamic and familiar presentation software widely used in the business community. PowerPoint offers formatting and style features that are varied and dynamic, with many attractive and built-in templates. PowerPoint also offers robust media integration with YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Once video files are added to the presentation, you can take and use them in offline presentations.
Slides are similar to PowerPoint but don’t offer the same variety of templates and features. The app is easy to use and format, but limited features don’t allow the same creative capacity as PowerPoint. Slides do have native YouTube integration, however, a network connection is required to create and show presentations with embedded web videos.
The Email Showdown: Weighing the Pros and Cons of Outlook and Gmail
Alright, this is a question we get from our clients all the time – how does Gmail measure up to Outlook and what sets the two apart? The fact of the matter is, both email platforms have a lot of similar capabilities. However, there are some key differences between the Google and Microsoft approach to email optimization. Let’s explore the similarities and differences below.
- Deployment of company branded email addresses.
- Two-step authentication functions.
- Dynamic spam filtering.
- Advanced malware detection that allows for real-time link scanning and notifications about potentially unsafe links.
- Calendar integration
- Customizable themes to change the color, font or format of user inboxes.
- Ability to put legal holds on inboxes to prevent disgruntled employees from misusing sensitive client data.
- Outlook is fully integrated with the web but also includes a native version bundled with Office 365 on the enterprise pricing level. This offers business users the full product suite, both on and offline. This means users can access all of their email account data offline, so long as it has been saved locally.
- Outlook has a built-in, highly intuitive folder organization system with a familiar look and strategic routing options. Additionally, the Outlook platform can be highly customized based on user preferences. If users want to reduce visual clutter they can close sidebars and choose a single or double pane view.
- Outlook also offers provides user-experience customization tools, specifically the ability to set rules and quick steps. These features are very robust and thorough which maximizes productivity for business users.
- Increased security capacity – Outlook used to lack two-step verification, but the feature was introduced this year for all Office 365 apps. This means business users can feel safe in the modern online climate, where email security is a huge concern.
- Finally, Outlook offers seamless native email-calendar integration and the ability to cross-integrate calendars as well. Additionally, Outlook calendars have a lot of resource management options, tying in different types of remote meeting options as well as integration with a variety of meeting apps including Skype for Business, Hangouts, Go-to-Meeting, and others.
- Gmail can be used and accessed online only unless using a third-party software. Gmail can be deployed using native versions of Outlook among other offline third-party platforms.
- Gmail users are able to use Chrome and Safari to access Gmail offline – however, it needs to be set up individually in each browser via a Gmail extension. However, the interface is clunky and only features the most recent month of email data.
- Gmail comes equipped with built-in default smart sorting categories – when a user first opens a Gmail account, priority levels will be assigned to different emails as they begin filtering in. This filtering is automatic, but limited to the Google’s default categories – users can’t customize at all. You can remove categories and add tags for searching and organization, but it’s not as robust and customizable as Outlook.
- Finally, Gmail offers no features for setting rules or routing preferences and the view customizations are also limited. While users can change the look and feel of their inbox, there’s no ability to change the number of panes to reduce visual clutter.
Communication & Collaboration: How Each Platform Keeps Business Teams Connected
Alright, so email is one thing – but in a modern world, business users need more instant and dynamic ways to connect with clients and colleagues across the globe. So, let’s take a look at the communication and collaboration tools that both Office 365 and G Suite offer.
Skype for Business
- Big user base available – 250 maximum participants.
- New, and fantastic user experience. The user interface is very clean and easy to navigate – capable of integrated enterprise-class telephone replacement – so if businesses wanted to set up Skype for Business to be your enterprise phone system that is an option with the full Office 365 product suite.
- Fully-functional integration features. Scheduling meetings and sharing files right from the platform is incredibly easy. User customization is endless to provide for highly optimized communication.
- More limited user base – maximum participants is 25. This means the platform isn’t a great solution for big business meetings or hosting webinars.
- Ability to sync Hangouts conversations across all devices.
- Hangouts are built into G Suite applications – however, the solution is very much a standalone platform. The integration features simply don’t measure up to Microsoft.
Using Office 365 and G Suite for Content Management: SharePoint vs. Sites
Another important feature for business users is the ability to manage company content and streamline the organization and access of resources and data. Both Office 365 and G Suite have specific applications for content management – let’s outline the 411 for each solution below.
Office 365 SharePoint
- Dynamic, built-in, metadata tagging which offers the ability to link to references within SharePoint sites but also links to files across enterprise servers.
- Huge collaboration capacity with built-in check-in and check-out features to prevent simultaneous changes.
- Dynamic records management tools and version histories that allow users to notice changes and easily compare related documents.
- Allows for access to anything within the enterprise server. For example, an excel spreadsheet that is uploaded to the Office 365 Cloud platform, can be accessed through SharePoint. This streamlines processes and saves time – no additional uploading is required, users just have to search for what they’re looking for.
- Automated workflow processes and high quality, built-in business intelligence tools.
G Suite Sites
- Quick and simple deployment with a basic and clean interface.
- More user-friendly than SharePoint, but much smaller feature base.
- Very much resembles the Wikipedia site design – it references other pages within Google Sites via links much like a wiki page does.
- Limited customization – users cannot alter the HTML in the site itself so users are limited to Google defaults and branding capabilities aren’t available.
- Search capabilities are limited to individual sites – so if you have data uploaded to a site, you can access it within Sites. However, if you want to reference a spreadsheet that has not been linked to the site – you won’t see it.
Random Extras: The Leftover Nuts and Bolts to Compare
So far, we’ve covered documents, email, collaboration and content management. Now let’s take a peek at the leftover platform features to compare. First, we’ll explain the difference between each platform’s note-keeping apps. Then, we’ll touch on a few extra features that are offered in Office 365 only.
Office 365 OneNote:
- Robust, indexed notes and notebooks.
- Functions like a three-ring-binder – collect all the notes users take and offer features for indexing, sharing, and organization.
- Dynamic calendar integration that allows for the syncing of notes to specific calendar areas.
G Suite Keep:
- Simple, individual standalone notes.
- Function very much like onscreen Post-It notes.
- Can be shared and edited collaboratively.
FEATURES UNIQUE TO OFFICE 365
Delve looks at Office 365 user trends and shows users what’s most important. Recent files are brought to the forefront and email use is optimized based on user trends and preferences. A very intuitive application that serves as a great place for an ‘at a glance’ view of all the most important ongoing projects from apps across the Office 365 suite.
Flow is a built-in workflow organizer for Office 365. The application creates dynamic and intelligent flowcharts that can be fully integrated with all Office 365 apps.
Bookings act as a built-in Office 365 receptionist. The app keeps track of meetings and offers dynamic external integration. Users can link to websites and allow clients to schedule meetings and appointments via web.
Pricing and Value: When it Comes Down to it, Which Platform Offers the Most Value?
Now that we’ve nailed down all the features, let’s get to the important stuff – pricing and value. When it comes down to it, businesses want to know they’re making a smart investment, that is catered to their specific business needs.
While both Microsoft and Google offer a variety of tiered pricing options for the business, we’re going to compare the two most widely used pricing models for each platform. These two pricing models are the ones that meet the variety of needs that most businesses have and are the most comparable models between the two platforms.
- Office 365 Enterprise 3 – $20 per user, per month.
- Web and desktop apps included.
- Unlimited cloud storage.
- 50GB of email storage.
- Unlimited user base.
- 24/7 web and phone support.
- G Suite Business – $10 per user, per month.
- The product suite is online only.
- Unlimited Cloud storage – which includes Gmail. However, if a company has less than five users, they’ll be limited to 1 TB of storage.
- 24/7 web and phone support.
- Unlimited user base
FINAL VERDICT: Office 365 Takes the Crown Based on Power Alone
After that exhaustive review of features and capabilities – you’re probably wondering, what’s the final verdict? Is Office 365 or G Suite the better option for your business. When it comes down to it, it depends on the unique needs of each company – but if we’re being honest, Office 365 is the undisputed champion.
G Suite is a nicely designed, clean and serviceable platform. It’s easy to use and has similar features to those offered in Office 365. However, it’s very basic. For companies looking for the most robust, feature-rich, professional and customizable software suite on the market, Office 365 is the hands-down winner.
Very simply, it can’t be beaten. It’s the most familiar and most popular platform on the market – and it’s the market leader for a reason. Microsoft holds up its legacy with continual Office 365 optimization and the bottom line is the customization and integration capacities can’t be beat.
If you’re looking to invest in a software platform for business and have questions about choices or strategies for deployment, reach out to our team of IT experts anytime. Your company’s software platform serves as the digital headquarters for business operations. Taking the time to consult with professionals will help ensure your software deployment is optimized to meet your unique business demands.