When you think of the technology industry, two big players probably come to mind: Microsoft and Google. There’s no doubt that both of these companies have made significant impacts on the tech we know and use every day. And today, we are going to put these companies head to head in a comparison of their productivity tools. Welcome to the battle of the century- G Suite vs. Office 365.
What are G Suite and Office 365?
Before we get into everything, let’s make sure we’re all clear on the two suites of tools and what’s included in each. Let’s start with G Suite.
G Suite is Google’s set of cloud computing, productivity, and collaboration tools for individuals and businesses alike. You’re probably familiar with some of the products included, such as Gmail, Docs, or Drive. The complete list of offerings includes:
- Gmail- Google’s email platform
- Calendar- For easy scheduling
- Currents- Google’s new replacement for Google+
- Hangouts- For company-wide messaging and video conferencing
- Docs- Google’s word processing program
- Sheets- Google’s spreadsheet program
- Forms- For capturing survey and form responses
- Slides- For visual slideshow presentations
- Sites- For building websites
- App-maker- For creating web and mobile applications
- Keep- For quick note-taking
- Jamboard- Google’s collaborative, digital whiteboard
- Drive- For secure storage and file sharing
These tools are designed to help your organization work more collaboratively and efficiently. They are all cloud-based, meaning you have access to your files from anywhere at any time on any device. And the best part is everything is included in one package and integrates well with each other.
Very similar to G Suite’s offerings, Office 365 also offers a complete package of productivity tools in a cloud-based subscription service. The list of tools includes flagship products, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. But, Microsoft’s suite of programs doesn’t stop there; other tools included are:
- Outlook- Microsoft’s email platform
- Publisher (PC only)- For desktop publishing design
- Access (PC only)- For database management
- OneDrive- Microsoft’s secure file storage
- SharePoint- For sharing and managing content, knowledge, and applications
- Teams- For company-wide messaging and video conferencing
- Yammer- For live and on-demand events
- Stream- Microsoft’s video-sharing service
- Power BI- Microsoft’s business analytics service
- Invoicing- For managing invoices and payments
- PowerApps- For creating mobile and web applications
- MyAnalytics- For individual productivity insights
- Whiteboard- Microsoft’s digital, collaborative whiteboard
- To Do- For improving focus and productivity
- Sway- Microsoft’s visual presentation program
- Skype for Business- For online meetings
Because the two services offer some extremely similar products, the natural response is usually, “Well, which one is better?” Honestly, it depends.
It all comes down to what you’re looking to pay, how much storage you’re looking for, what tools you need, and what features and capabilities those tools need to offer. Let’s dig a little deeper and figure out when G Suite might be the better choice or when Office 365 has the edge.
G Suite vs. Office 365: Pricing
Let’s start with one of the first things people want to know about the two services- what’s the price difference? Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, but let’s try and break it down.
G Suite definitely has a leg up on pricing simplicity. The company offers three distinct plans for its set of tools- Basic, Business, and Enterprise.
The Basic plan starts at $6 a month per user and offers Gmail for business email, Hangouts, Calendar, and the standard Docs, Sheets, and Slides. It comes with 30GB of cloud storage and provides some limited security and administration controls.
Moving upwards through the tiers, we come to Google’s Business plan. This plan is slightly more expensive at $12 per user per month. This tier offers everything the Basic plan offers with the addition of tools for mobile and web applications, searching across all your files, and increased security and archive options. It also totes unlimited cloud storage except for one hitch- if you have five or fewer users, you’re limited to 1 TB of cloud storage.
Google’s final pricing tier, Enterprise, comes in at $25 per user per month with advanced controls and capabilities. It also allows users unlimited storage (but don’t forget the five users or less exception), includes live streaming in Hangouts, and offers the ability for more Hangouts participants.
Compared to G Suite’s relatively straightforward pricing structure, Office 365’s pricing can get a little confusing. They have pricing plans for individuals, students, educators, businesses, and enterprises. We’re going to focus on the options Microsoft offers for business and enterprises- which is a total of seven plans.
Office 365 Business Plans
Starting in the business category, users have the option to choose between Office 365 Business Apps, Office 365 Business Premium, and Office 365 Business Essentials.
The Business Essentials plan is only $5 a month per user, but only offers the web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. But you do also get access to the web versions of Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams. However, when looking at Office 365 pricing, there is a catch. This pricing is based on an annual commitment. If you don’t want to commit to Office 365 for a year, their month-to-month pricing is more expensive.
The Business Apps package comes at a price tag of $8.25 per user per month and offers users Microsoft’s staple tools such as Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive in both web and desktop versions. However, this plan doesn’t offer users Microsoft’s collaboration tools such as SharePoint and Teams.
And finally, the Business Premium plan comes in at $12.50 per user per month and offers online and desktop versions of all the tools provided in the 365 suite.
All three of the Business plans offer 1 TB of OneDrive storage and the online versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. However, only the Premium and Essentials plans offer email hosting with 50 GB of mailbox and a custom domain name. These two plans are also the only two of the Business plans that offer Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.
Office 365 Enterprise Plans
Covered in the Enterprise options offered by Microsoft is the Office 365 E1 plan, which comes down to $8 per user per month. This package doesn’t provide any of Microsoft’s desktop apps, only the web versions. However, it does provide access to OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, and Stream. It also includes 1 TB of storage, eDiscovery, and data governance.
The next plan on the list is Office 365 E3, which includes everything the E1 package offers, along with desktop applications for Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Publisher for $20 per user per month. It also touts unlimited OneDrive storage and offers more controls for email archiving, document and message encryption, and data loss prevention.
Moving on to Microsoft’s Office 365 E5 offering, this plan is the most expensive of the bunch, rounding out at $35 per user per month. With this plan, you have access to the full suite of tools offered by Microsoft and all the capabilities within those tools. It provides unlimited storage, advanced security features, advanced analytics, and complete visibility and control of your Office 365 environment.
Last but not least, Microsoft offers one more Enterprise package, called Office 365 ProPlus. This plan will cost you $12 per user per month and includes the web and desktop versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Publisher. What you won’t get are any collaborative tools like Teams or SharePoint, business email hosting, and unlimited storage (you’re fixed to 1 TB).
Comparing the Two
So, comparing the G Suite plans to the Microsoft plans isn’t exactly easy. If you’re looking to compare plans, you might compare Google’s Basic plan with Microsoft’s Business Essentials plan. With both of these options, you get business email along with access to each company’s respective programs for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. In this case, Office 365 comes out to be cheaper at $5 compared to $6.
However, if you are looking for more features, the pricing tables turn in favor of G Suite. Google’s Business plan is most comparable to Microsoft’s E3 plan, with a larger price difference at $12 versus $20 respectively. Each plan offers high-functioning apps and unlimited storage, but Office 365’s plan also does come with desktop versions of their programs, allowing you to work online or offline.
In the end, Google’s pricing options are simple, while Microsoft’s may be more difficult to find which plan fits your needs best. On the other hand, the Office 365 plans also offer slightly more flexibility. But, although pricing may be a factor to consider, there are more things to look at that might make you lean towards one program or another.
G Suite vs. Office 365: Email
One important factor many businesses look for when choosing between G Suite and Office 365 is email. All three of G Suite’s plans offer business email, while you should steer clear of Office 365’s Business Apps and ProPlus plans if you are looking for email.
Looking at performance, both Gmail and Outlook will provide reliable service that links to their calendars. Gmail lives strictly online, whereas Outlook has an online and desktop version.
When you are comparing the two online platforms, both are pretty comparable. However, when you throw in Outlook’s offline version, it is more feature-heavy than Gmail and allows for better sorting, grouping, and labeling with advanced rule capabilities.
But, where Gmail might come ahead is in their clean interface, variety of third-party add-ons, and powerful search functionality that allows you to quickly find emails and documents (it is Google after all, who wouldn’t expect their search feature to be fantastic). Gmail also utilizes AI to auto-complete phrases and personal information that many users might find helpful.
Overall, if you’re looking for basic email functionality and a seamless user experience, Gmail might be better. However, if you are looking for more flexibility, a variety of features, and the idea of a desktop app appeals to you, Outlook might be your best bet.
G Suite vs. Office 365: Word Processors, Spreadsheets, and Presentations
When it comes to the word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation tools offered by the two companies, again, both offer something different to users.
Google sticks to the idea of clean, user-friendly tools while Microsoft takes the route of creating feature-heavy programs with advanced capabilities.
With programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, there is the advantage of familiarity. Many users have used these programs and are comfortable with them. However, an increasing number of individuals have also worked in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, so if you’re looking to shorten the learning curve, it really comes down to what your employees are most familiar with.
Looking specifically at spreadsheets, Excel is the clear winner if your organization requires complex number crunching. Google Sheets offers basic features for light tasks but doesn’t have the same advanced capabilities and power that Excel offers.
One aspect where Google might come ahead is in real-time collaboration. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides all make it easy for users to work on the same project at the same time while seeing other’s changes and additions at the moment they are being made. In Google’s programs, you can also view past versions of documents so that no work is ever lost. Office 365’s programs also allow for improved collaboration, but maybe not to the same level as Google’s.
So, similarly to email, it all comes down to what your organization is looking for. If you need apps that will provide you with powerful features and capabilities, Office 365 is probably the way to go. On the other hand, if you only need these programs for light tasks, some of the more advanced features of Office 365 might go to waste. And if real-time collaboration is incredibly important to your organization, Google is a great choice for that.
Although Google might offer better real-time collaboration in their creation programs, Microsoft most likely edges them out in actual collaboration tools.
In G Suite, the main program offered for internal communication is Hangouts, while Office 365 offers Microsoft Teams. Microsoft Teams is very Slack-esque, meaning you can create group and one-on-one chats with the inclusion of sharing files effortlessly. It also allows for video-conferencing in your organization.
Google Hangouts also offers instant messaging and group chat features on a minimalist, clean design. However, some of the features provided by Teams are lacking in Hangouts. For instance, in Hangouts, group chats must be set up and managed by a single individual wherein Teams, users can create multiple channels that anyone can join.
G Suite vs. Office 365: Final Thoughts
Overall, both G Suite and Office 365 offer fantastic tools to help improve your organization’s productivity and collaboration. When choosing between the two, it all pretty much comes down to two recurring themes:
- If you’re looking for a user-friendly interface that offers basic features, G Suite might be your guy.
- If you want feature-heavy programs that users can access online and on their desktop, Office 365 is the way to go.
Across many, if not all, of the tools offered by both companies, it comes down to this. Google might provide a smoother interface, but you might sacrifice some functionality. Microsoft offers powerful capabilities that are familiar to many users but lacks some of the real-time collaboration benefits of Google’s tools. So, which one of those makes more sense for your organization?
Don’t forget, it’s possible (and quite popular) to utilize both tools. Many organizations use Office 365 for particular projects and G Suite for others. This way, you can access the benefits of both suites when it makes sense.