Office 365 vs. G Suite: 7 Comparisons
There’s been a lot of discussion concerning Office 365 and G Suite and which is the superior product. As you may have gathered, the short answer is: neither. It all comes down to what you and your team are looking for in a platform—what type of mechanics you value. So here we can weigh out, side-by-side, seven big features that are likely to be significant to your work and how each faction delivers those features.
1.) Functions & Features
When looking at the programs that you will likely be interacting with day to day, both Microsoft and Google offer pretty similar options. Here is a table that shows each side’s equivalent.
|Function||G Suite||Office 365|
|Instant Messaging||Hangouts||Skype for Business|
|Social Networking||Google+||**So.cl**, Yammer|
|Video Chat||Hangouts||Skype for Business|
Let’s just go down the list and examine each.
For email, both options perform pretty much the same tasks and are free within their respective services. The real take-away here is preference due to UXD and overall stylistic choices. For example, text and read/unread messages in Gmail are sharper, as they have greater contrasts through shading and other coloring options. The program is a bit easier to navigate as a result. However, when it comes to flagging, Outlook takes the cake because the entirety of the message becomes highlighted.
Another feature to note is how the search mechanic works when composing a fresh email (imagine referencing an older message while writing a new one). Gmail’s default has a single pane (though it can be toggled into a double) and the search box blocks out part of the new email (and inbox if double paned). Outlook’s default is double paned, but only the inbox side of your window is obstructed rather than both when writing a new email.
The last noticeable difference is found in interacting with the calendar and scheduling. Outlook takes you to a new window while Gmail keeps your inbox open and opens the calendar in a new tab. One you may have to ex out of, while the other (Gmail) lets you switch between tabs.
These all seem like minor differences—and they are—but when you’re sifting through emails all day, the little things add up.
B.) Instant Messaging/Video Chat
I’m including both real-time communication functions here because both use the same applications, “Hangouts” for Google and “Skype for Business” (SFB) for Microsoft.
Firstly, let’s state the glaring similarities. Both sides allow for live text messaging, voice, and video calls that are accessible from one platform to multiple parties simultaneously. The chat logs for each are also archived so that they can be easily revisited later.
Now, we’ll take a look at what’s different. Visually, Hangouts has a few more options in terms of style. While both possess emojis, Hangouts has a bigger library. It also has more avatars, color options, themes, and chat bubble customization choices. The exception to this, however, is in the presence indicator. Google has a green circle (or none) to show online availability and also a custom status message. SFB has several status options in addition to custom messages. So while Hangouts generally has more visual selections to choose from, SFB has a consistent simplicity. In a work setting, sometimes that’s all you are really looking for.
For calls, Hangouts is free for the majority of U.S. and Canadian numbers including those with Google Voice. Numbers that are not free are charged at a rate of $0.01 to $0.06 per minute depending on location. SFB has unlimited calls to any U.S. number for $6.99 per month or any world number for $13.99 per month.
Another thing to note with those calls is the amount of participants allowed on the calls. Hangouts conference calls max out at a party of 25 whereas SFB maxes out at 250 and allows for more leeway in where/how those party members are joining in.
What you should keep in mind when comparing these elements is not only the size of your business and its teams, but who and where your business’ primary clients are.
C.) Note Taking
This function comparison is a matchup of speed versus size between Google’s Keep and Microsoft’s OneNote, respectively. The best way to imagine the two is a collection of post-it notes against a filing notebook.
For that, Keep is very light, quick, and easy to access from any device. In Keep, notes exist as individual items. There are no stacks or notebooks, just the lone note that you can manually tag, colorize, and drag and drop for organization purposes. This can be great for images, web snippets, lists, to-do reminders, and other shorter write-downs (each note has a 19,999-character limit). Another side effect of the program’s speed-over-size build to be aware of is it doesn’t seem to have a true history/undo tool, so if you notice a mistake afterward, it’s on you to manually backtrack and fix it.
OneNote is much bulkier and a bit clunky on devices outside of a regular computer. That being said, it does have history memory and further compensates with a much greater arsenal for organization and workflow management. You’re given books that can be broken down to chapters, pages, then sections, or some combination of the like. These categories and the notes in them can also be arranged manually and altered to best fit the type of information you’re storing. For example, you can include check boxes for task lists (like in Keep), however, you can place them anywhere on the page and start writing as if it were an actual notebook with footnotes and side blurbs.
D.) Presentations, Spreadsheets, and Word Processing
Ah yes, the holy trinity of any office worker’s toolkit. With Google we have Slides, Sheets, and Docs, and with Microsoft we have PowerPoint, Excel, and Word. I’ve combined these three functions into this section because they are the software features that most people are familiar with (and in turn require less explanation for what they actually do—I hope). In terms of one camp against the other, each platform’s version of these tools performs the same general functions as its counterpart, yet, like the note taking apps above, the comparison becomes a matter of lightweight speed matched against the crowd favored heavy-hitter.
With Google, the ease of access is there. Due to that online-based airiness and simplicity, any of the three applications are very accessible across all devices. That means from desktop to mobile devices, your whole team can work on the same project, in real-time, from essentially anywhere.
Now that Microsoft has Office 365 and online collaboration, Google doesn’t have as much of a leg up in this aspect as it did in previous years. However, Microsoft still does not run as smoothly as Google products when spread across different devices. This, like before, is largely due to the greater depth in which you can customize any project developed in these three Office 365 apps.
Here are some of the key differences across all three types of programs:
- i.) Outside of the standard formats for each function, the export formats allowed for each platform are as follows:
- Google: .pptx, .pdf, .txt, .jpg, png, and .svg
- Microsoft: .pdf, .xps, .mp4, .wmv, .odp, .gif, .jpg, .png, .gif, .bmp, .tif, .wmf, .emf, and .rtf
- ii.) Audio imports with Google are complicated and require a roundabout method for incorporation (outside of embedded Youtube videos), yet with Microsoft, audio is relatively straightforward to integrate.
- iii.) For presentations, Google has about 15 animations/effects whereas Microsoft has about 50.
- iv.) For spreadsheets, Sheets has a chat window to discuss the changes that are occurring, which is very convenient for group work. Excel on the other hand offers advanced options for graph/picture creation, workflow automation and management, conditional formatting, and a plethora of other customizable features.
- v.) Similar to what is listed above, Docs has far fewer options in versatility when compared to Word. When including graphs, pictures, and other forms of “smart art,” Microsoft is the better choice.
E.) Social Networking
Google+, like many other social networking platforms, focuses on keeping people digitally connected. The primary distinctions lie in tying you in to the rest of your Google applications and profiles while making a greater effort for transparency in making you aware of who you’re interacting with. You have Circles (which are comparable to Facebook groups, just with more user control over the parties exposed to your posts/information), Hangouts (we went over that), and Google Photos which involves instant uploads and editing features (although, Photos has also become its own entity.)
Microsoft’s So.cl was a dumpster fire and no longer exists. We don’t talk about So.cl.
Sometime afterward, Microsoft acquired Yammer and made it their primary social networking service. Yammer is all about social privacy. The platform is used for internal communications within organizations to better connect, share, and search for information across teams for the sake of project coordination. To ensure that air of confidentiality, access to a Yammer network is determined by a user’s Internet domain so that only individuals with approved email addresses may join their respective networks.
The spirits in the sky! Well, the storage spirits, at least. G Suite offers Drive and Office 365 has OneDrive. Once again, the two are very comparable at face value. They both make device hopping seamless, they have minimalist UXD so manipulating files is a clean and easy process, they have email archiving features, and they have mechanics that allow you to mark items for offline use—among other capabilities.
Some of the differences between the two begin d permissions from your desktop (right out of the folder) with a bit more control in the degree to which a shared contact has access to an item. This is something that OneDrive cannot do. Alternatively, OneDrive gives you more ease in visibility than Drive does. Microsoft’s product makes viewing both items that you’ve shared and those that have been shared with you a one-stop ordeal by entering shared view. With Google, on the other hand, to see what you’ve shared with others you need to do some search digging.
There are a few more differences of note, but we’ll revisit those further down when discussing each package that the different companies offer.
G.) Web Pages
And finally—web pages. Here we’ll look at the tools for making sites and pages for the purposes of team oriented file sharing and management. It isn’t an entirely fair match-up between Sites and SharePoint, as SharePoint traditionally has a much wider breadth of capabilities than Sites does. This includes springing workflow processes like the approval/publishing of content whenever a document is added, changed, or removed, developing configurable lists to capture metadata when storing documents, and a high flexibility in how template are used (to name a few).
2.) Packages & Prices
Regardless of what kind of usability you are after, price is a factor that cannot be ignored when choosing which product is right for you. G Suite has a pretty clear-cut plan with three levels while O365 has a few more than that. That can be convenient because you can get a plan that is better tailored to your needs, or it can be tedious because you have to a few options to weigh out when your head stops spinning. Whatever the case, here they are side by side with the biggest packages at the bottom:
|G Suite||Office 365|
|Basic||$5 per user per month or $50 per user per year||Business Essentials||$6 per user per month ($5 per user per month annually)|
|Business||$10 per user per month or $120 per user per year||Business||$10 per user per month ($8.25 per user per month annually)|
|Enterprise||Available upon request from Google||Business Premium||$15 per user per month ($12.50 per user per month annually)|
|Enterprise E1||$8 per user per month (must be annual)|
|Enterprise Pro Plus||$12 per user per month (must be annual)|
|Enterprise E3||$20 per user per month (must be annual)|
|Enterprise E5||$35 per user per month (must be annual)|
Lets begin with G Suite and what each plan gets you in terms of applications, storage, and all that jazz.
- Business email through Gmail
- Video and voice conferencing
- Smart shared calendars
- Docs, Sheets, and Slides
- 24/7 support by phone, email, and online
- Security and administration controls
- Project sites
- 30 GB cloud storage
Business includes all the features of Basic, plus:
- Unlimited cloud storage (or 1 TB per user if fewer than five users)
- Archive and set retention policies for emails and chats
- eDiscovery for emails, chats, and files
- Audit reports to track user activity
Enterprise includes all of the features of Business plus:
- Data loss prevention for Gmail
- Data loss prevention for Drive
- Integrate Gmail with compliant third-party archiving tools
- Enterprise-grade access control with security key enforcement
- Gmail log analysis in BigQuery
3.) Security & Privacy
When looking at security, Google has had a history of producing secure software while Microsoft has had quite a few holes. Traditionally, Google’s fully cloud-based model meant that updates were in constant motion, weeding out any weak spots in security. Alternatively, to fully benefit from Microsoft’s you needed installed software and were at risk in between some of the bigger patches. Since both are now deeply integrated with the cloud, that is no longer as big an issue. Additionally, both offer a multi-factor authentication feature and admin audit logs to better track activity and ensure you are who you say you are when accessing information.
Something to note is that the logs are handled differently by each company. G Suite’s documented activity can’t really be tampered with (at least not easily) and is available through Google’s API’s. O365, on the other hand, gives you the ability to eliminate logs if you have the right privileges. That loophole could be problematic if someone who shouldn’t be there is conscious of covering his tracks.
4.) Availability & Usability
Having the capability to check the status of online services can go a long way when you’re running a business. Sometimes being able to identify outages before you’re in the heat of the mess can save you a lot of trouble and help to change course appropriately. G Suite provides an app status dashboard that spans across all of its services and is publicly viewable. You can even check information on past outages that log back a few months. O365 has its own service health dashboard for its online services, but that feature is reserved to those who are paying customers.
We’ve already discussed the specifics of usability regarding each individual application of the suites and how both sides have offline mechanics for different programs. What we haven’t discussed is the desktop client feature that comes along with a suite’s browser-based ones. Google does not provide this option, as it is entirely browser based. Microsoft, with several of its packages, does.
If after all of their functionality you’re still left wishing you had something more from either G Suite or Office 365, you’re in luck. Both Google and Microsoft have options to expand their capabilities.
For the simpler aspects, you can incorporate add-ons/apps into each system by exploring their app libraries. Google’s Apps Marketplace has 750+ apps that are both free and priced that can tweak your programs, Microsoft’s Office Store boasts 1500+ options.
If you are more of the “roll-up-your-sleeves-type,” then you can even write your own code for each suite by using the Google or Microsoft API’s.
After reading through some of the comparisons we’ve gone through above, hopefully you have a better understanding of what one product might do better, or just differently, from the other. As I mentioned from the onset, though—it’s all relative. As a quick recap, some of the major aspects to pay attention to and questions to ask about them are:
- The applications themselves—Do some perform certain functions that your business requires? Do you value speed and simplicity or familiarity and depth? Which service would be most convenient for those you would do business with?
- The packages and prices—How large of an operation are you running? What are your application requirements and the storage necessary for them? Is an easy, general plan or a complex tailored one better suited to your needs?
- The security and privacy—Which company do you trust more? Would you prefer less or more freedom in managing audit log information? How important is your private information to you?
- The availability and usability—Is needing a paid account to view service statuses a deal-breaker? What about having access to your services through an offline, desktop app?
- The expandability—What else do you need out of your suite? Are there enough options to meet those needs? How comfortable are you with creating those add-ons yourself in each API?
Whichever service you decide to choose, G Suite or Office 365, someone will probably tell you you’re wrong. It’s one of those faction-minded developments that has a following like a sports team. I don’t really get it. Anyway, weigh your options, and see which qualities best fit your needs, your business’s needs, and the needs of those you are doing business with.