Rivalry in the skies: Office 365 vs. G Suite (Google Apps)

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It’s not really a question of whether your business should move to the cloud, but more a case of when and how—if you haven’t made the move already, that is. For instance, the 2016 State of the Cloud Report, conducted by RightScale, analyzed the most prominent cloud computing trends in the enterprise to find that 95% of respondents now use the cloud in some form or description.

The cloud has come an extremely long way in what seems like a very short space of time.

But if you haven’t taken advantage of what the cloud can offer (many haven’t), you may be wondering where to begin. And one of the most important aspects for your business when moving to the cloud is going to be which productivity and collaboration platform you decide to use.

In any case, wherever you decide to go, the cloud will allow you to be both flexible in your business scalability and always up to date with your IT solutions.

Bonus: Download the Ultimate Office 365 Migration Checklist to better execute your move to the Cloud.

Picking Between Office 365 and G Suite

Today we’re going consider a pretty basic question that many organizations are asking when it comes to the cloud and productivity solutions:

Microsoft Office 365 vs. G Suite

We’ll will look at this question from several angles including price, features and functionality. Office 365 and G Suite (previously known as Google Apps) are two of the biggest names fighting for supremacy in this constantly expanding field.

Microsoft has a long-standing reputation for providing businesses with productivity solutions, while Google is the hip newcomer into the enterprise productivity app scene. However, since the G suite was ‘born in the cloud’, some believe this might give them a cloud advantage.

The answer to the question of which is ‘better’, as ever, will be based on the specific fit for your employees, your business and your industry. Today, we’ll lay out both product suites so you can have a look at what you get with both, helping you make your own decision.

What They Do

Both platforms give businesses the collaboration and productivity tools that you need to perform common business tasks online or in the cloud.

With both you can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc., and collaborate with team members over these same documents. They are stored in a central online hub where you and your team can access them, whenever you need to.

Throw in conferencing functionality, cloud storage, email and you have, in theory, everything you would have in a physical office but accessible from any computer or device.

microsoft Office 365 vs Google G Suite

So, if they both do the same thing, how do you choose?

Plans & Pricing – Office 365 VS G Suite Comparison Chart

When it comes to a choice like this, it’s important to compare the various plans available and their prices. Ultimately though, above price, your business needs should be what guide you in picking the right plan.

G Suite Pricing and Features

Google provides three plans:

  • Basic: 5$ per user per month
  • Business: 10$ per user per month
  • Enterprise: available on demand
Business email
Video and voice conferencing
Shared online calendars
Online documents, spreadsheets and presentations
24/7 Support
Security and administration controls
Cloud storage
Smart search
Archiving & retention policies for emails and chat
EDiscovery for emails, chat and files
Audit reports to track user activity
Data loss prevention for Gmail and Drive
Hosted S/MIME for Gmail
Integration with third-party tools
Additional security enforcement
Additional reporting using BigQuery

* Online documents created with Google Apps don’t count towards your cloud storage.
** If the organization has fewer than 5 users, only 1TB of storage is available.

Considering that most security and reporting options are only available in the Business and/or Enterprise plans (hello data loss prevention!), even if the Basic plan answers your organization’s needs, most would still recommend going up to the bigger plans.

Also, in terms of storage, 30GB is very little for an organization to work with, which is another downside to G Suite Basic.

To find out more about G Suite plans and pricing, click here.

Office 365 Pricing and Features

Microsoft have several different business and enterprise plans ranging in price for a more granular way of comparing plans (for the sake of this comparison, we’ve removed the home and education plans, which aren’t relevant in this case):

  • Business Essentials: $6 per user per month
  • Business: $10 per user per month
  • Business Premium: $15 per user per month
  • Enterprise* E1: $8 per user per month
  • Enterprise* Pro Plus: $12 per user per month
  • Enterprise* E3: $20 per user per month
  • Enterprise* E5: $35 per user per month

*Enterprise plans require an annual commitment

The first step here is determining whether your organization will be better suited with a Business plan or an Enterprise plan.

Business Essentials
Business Premium
Custom business email with 50 GB mailbox
Desktop Office Apps
Online Office Apps
Multi-platform usage for a single user
File storage and sharing with 1 TB of OneDrive storage
SharePoint, Skype for Business, Yammer & Planner included
Manual retention and deletion policies and manual classifications
Max users
24/7 support
Enterprise E1
Enterprise ProPlus
Enterprise E3
Enterprise E5
Custom business email with 50 GB mailbox
Desktop Office Apps
Online Office Apps
Multi-platform usage for a single user
File storage and sharing with 1 TB of OneDrive storage
SharePoint, Skype for Business, Yammer & Planner included
Manual retention and deletion policies and manual classifications
Additional data management and security features
Max users
24/7 support

Essentially, it really comes down to the size of your organization. If you have fewer than 300 employees and that number fluctuates, then you should definitely go for a Business plan, because pricing is on a month-to-month basis.

If, however, your organization is large and will probably continue to grow, an Enterprise plan, with a yearly pricing commitment, is the way to go. Follow the link for more information on choosing between business and enterprise plans.

Once you’ve decided in which category you’ll pick your plan, you can choose a model based on your business needs. Don’t need a custom business email address? Go for the Business or Enterprise ProPlus plans. Don’t need the desktop Office apps but are still looking for online collaboration? Gor for the Business Essentials or Enterprise E1 plans.

You can see the full features available for each Office 365 plan here.

So, which one has the biggest bang for your buck?

If we look at our options purely from a cost point of view, Google, with their straightforward and inexpensive plans, with payment always on a monthly basis, definitely wins in that category.

On the other hand, Microsoft offers much more flexibility in terms of what features can be included in your plan and offer much more value for the money spent (i.e. storage, security, archiving, etc.).

In short, a proper definition of what types of tools and features should be available for your users to collaborate and be productive in your workplace is needed, before any kind of decision is made.


One of the great benefits of working in the cloud is knowing that your IT solutions are always at the cutting edge of innovation. Since its initial release as BPOS (Business Productivity Online Standard Suite) to now, Office 365 has continued to add updates and additions to its platform.

In the beginning, it was essentially a combination of Office and Outlook, but that has grown to incorporate much more powerful functionality with tools like Project Online, SharePoint, better document storage with OneDrive for Business, social media with Yammer, and business intelligence capabilities with Power BI.

Meanwhile, Google – who previously had majority control over the enterprise cloud market – hasn’t offered the same continuous updates to their platform. This sustained support of Office 365 led many users – some of which had already pledged allegiance to the G Suite – to return to Microsoft’s offering.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons for a change in name to G Suite. It seems that Google has realized the importance of continuous updates to their platform and have followed Microsoft’s lead in this measure.


Outlook vs. Gmail

A 2016 Gartner study found that 13% of publicly listed companies are using either Microsoft’s Office 365 or Google’s Apps for Work as their cloud email provider. Of this, 8.5% use Office 365 while 4.7% use Gmail. The remaining 87% of companies surveyed have on-premises, hybrid, hosted or private cloud email managed by smaller vendors.

Gmail may be a consumer email giant, but is up against a long-term presence in the business world when you put it against Outlook. Microsoft’s email client may be more familiar for corporate workers, but it also comes down to business functionality.

Outlook features:

  • Greater capability offline
  • A desktop tool
  • Large storage capacity (1TB file storage + 50GB inbox storage by default, unlimited for larger enterprise plans)
  • Superior enterprise management (for example, you can’t sort or group email in Gmail, the only option is to use labels).

Gmail features:

  • Powerful search capabilities
  • Better integrations with third-party apps
  • Small storage capacity (30GB for the Basic plan, unlimited for the Business or Enterprise plans)

Microsoft Outlook vs. Google Gmail

Skype for Business vs. Google Hangouts

Just two years after its release, Google Hangouts hit 1 billion downloads on the Play Store. The company’s unified chat platform combined the previous Google+, Google Talk IM, Contacts and more to offer communication on mobile devices. The focus for G Suite is to shift Hangouts to the enterprise.

Microsoft’s Skype for Business has seen rapid growth since it evolved from Microsoft Lync. According to Unify Square, Skype for Business is poised to exceed 100 million enterprise seats by 2018.

Google Hangouts features:

  • Built on Google Apps accounts and so can be deeply integrated with Google Apps for Work
  • Can be accessed through a variety of paths (Gmail, web browser, mobile app, Google+, etc.)
  • Sync conversations across devices

Skype for Business features:

  • A widely-recognized UI that people are very comfortable with
  • A fully functional enterprise-grade telephony replacement solution
  • PSTN Conferencing
  • PSTN Calling
  • Skype Meeting Broadcast
  • Cloud PBX.

Skype for Business vs. Google Hangouts

We chose not to include Microsoft Teams in this comparison, but it’s still important to note this newest addition to the “communication” aspect of Microsoft is changing the way we collaborate in a work environment.

Available in most Business and Enterprise plans for Office 365, Teams could tip the scale when deciding on which solution to use for communication. Find out more about Microsoft Teams here and here.

File Storage, Sync and Share

OneDrive for Business vs. Google Drive

Cloud storage is a big selling point for decreasing company costs and raising efficiency, offering a central repository for all your documents and files and allowing your employees better access to their content. Each platform offers customers differing levels of storage:

Google Drive:

  • 30 GB file storage for basic and unlimited for the rest.
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser.
  • Online Editors for Office documents.
  • Integration with other Google offerings like Gmail.

OneDrive for Business:

  • 1TB per person as part of SharePoint Online or Office 365 ProPlus.
  • Ability to host Online, On-Premises or Hybrid with a seamless user experience.
  • Online readers for rendering many types of files in your browser.
  • Full-text search of your content with refinements.
  • Online editors for Office documents.
  • Full integration with Office and Windows.

Larger businesses are likely to be well-suited to Office 365 and OneDrive for business’s 1TB of storage, particularly if they have existing Office 365 subscriptions.

However, if you ‘level up’ on the G Suite ‘Business’ plan, you receive unlimited storage (if you have more than five users signed up), which could come in very handy if your business needs to store large multimedia files in the cloud. 1TB sounds like a lot unless you regularly work with audio or video.

Again, it all comes down to your organization’s specific needs.


Office Suite vs. G Suite comparison

Google Docs, Sheets and Slides were taking the market share away from Microsoft during the late ‘00s; Google Apps held roughly 10% of the cloud-office market in 2007, 20% in 2009 and 33% in 2012.

While Google has always built for the browser, by adding in functionality like offline editing, Microsoft has since evolved their cloud office suite from the other direction, adding in functionality like real-time co-authoring into applications like Microsoft Word and Excel.

Because of this reverse rebuild, Office 365 and the desktop version of the Office suite are still relatively independent of each other, which is to be expected. It’s also one of the reasons why we see many Office 365 organizations ignoring the online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but in terms of overall adoption, the platform continues to reign supreme.

So, while both offer similar functionalities, there are some advantages and disadvantages to each.

Microsoft Office:

  • Documents, spreadsheets and presentations seamlessly available offline and online without having to export.
  • Advanced and powerful functionalities within the apps.
  • Keeps document formatting as-is whether in use online or offline. Google Apps formatting will almost always be lost when exporting to Office formats.

Google Apps:

  • Simple and easy to use, much less complex than Microsoft Office.
  • Possibility of saving Google documents in Microsoft formats.

So, in short, if you’re constantly working with Office solutions and need more advanced use of spreadsheets and other apps, Microsoft is the way to go. On the other hand, if your usage is mostly storage, and online collaboration is more of an afterthought, then Google Apps could be a decent solution to look into.

What’s Your Cloud Transition Roadmap?

Have you thought about where you are currently? Do you have legacy systems and on-premises servers with large amounts of data? If so, these can become very time-consuming to migrate. If your workforce is more experienced, then they may be unfamiliar with anything other than Outlook, SharePoint on-premises and the desktop version of the Office suite.

So, when more established companies do start moving to the cloud, it’s reasonable that they will continue with Microsoft. The alternative may involve shoehorning Google Apps into software such as SharePoint. It’s not an impossible task but is perhaps more convoluted than going with an all-inclusive platform such as Office 365.

This could be one of the reasons why a Bitglass Cloud Adoption Report recognized the huge surge in Office 365 adoption through 2015, which also coincided with Satya Nadella’s cloud-first, mobile-first company vision.

The results are plain to see – 80% of the Fortune 500 is now on the Microsoft Cloud, and by 2018, Microsoft’s aim is to reach an annualized commercial cloud revenue run rate of $20 billion.

While that looks like good news for Microsoft, it doesn’t mean your organization should automatically opt for Office 365. You need to ask what is best for your company based on what current IT system you have and are moving from, the number of employees you have, the plan you wish to invest in, your budget, and what you will be using your tools and solutions for.

So, go ahead, weigh up the options and choose what’s best for you!

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