There are a few options out there for companies who are looking online for office productivity packages, the big two in 2017 are Microsoft Office and GSuite by Google. Both solutions provide email hosting that allows you to use your domain name as well as a stack of other online productivity tools and applications to create, view and edit files.
At first glance they seem similar but look closer and you will see many differences, ultimately your choice will come down to what your business values and needs. Let’s take a look at the solutions.
Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft is a well-known name in business and education. For decades, their office suites have been the standard for productivity. Even now, students are expected to be able to read and edit documents in Microsoft Office or in a compatible program. Many businesses have the bundled Office applications installed on their work computers. When people migrated over to mobile devices, Microsoft followed them by offering mobile versions of their Office applications. As cloud computing gained numerous users and syncing between multiple devices became desirable for users, Microsoft kept up again with the release of it’s newest office suite, it’s bundled offering of online and offline apps and business services.
At it’s core you get hosted exchange email using your domain name (the same platform most large enterprise relies on), 1 terabyte of file storage through OneDrive, Online HD conferencing, SharePoint (intranet solution), Teams & Yammer for collaboration. This base level plan (office 365 business essentials) also comes with online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Step up to business premium and you get the full desktop and mobile Office applications.
Now, there are multiple price points available for whatever best suits the user’s needs. Which apps and services are offered depends on the chosen price plan. The available apps from Microsoft are Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Exchange Online, Publisher, Access, Skype for Business, Sharepoint Online, OneNote, and Outlook. The available services include storage space with Microsoft’s storage service, OneDrive, and team-focused applications for meetups and conferencing.
Google’s bundled service was launched in 2006 and, over the years, has added more and more options for groups and businesses. They became known for being an online and mobile-ready Office alternative. Many of Microsoft’s file types are somewhat compatible with Google’s applications. Making early gains with the non power user set, Google is now facing stiff competition as it’s relatively young offerings compete with an enhanced bunch of office and school environments.
With Google you get email, chat, file storage online and mobile – the biggest gap however is that Google provide quite a limited application set that is primarily online only. With a user interface that differs from Office and a feature set that is lacking people familiar with the Microsoft solutions may want for more.
- Online Use: Both proficient.
- Offline Use: Office 365, no contest.
- Sync Ready: Both proficient.
- Storage: Office 365 offers 1 TB of storage compared to Google 30 GB.
- Collaboration Tools: Office 365 combines Skype, Teams, Yammer all well integrated into the platform .
- Office Productivity: Office 365 provides more to new users and has advanced capability for professionals.
While GSuite is proficient for basic editing and document creation, Microsoft is the clear winner when comparing the capabilities of their similar applications. Microsoft’s slideshow creator, PowerPoint, is packed with features and templates. OneNote is a full-featured note taker while the comparable Google Keep has more in common with fancy sticky notes. The spreadsheet creator, Excel, is similarly packed with features and templates Google simply doesn’t match. Google’s spreadsheet template offerings are created by it’s users and put into a marketplace that can be difficult to wade through.
All in all, Google’s suites are useful for basic tasks and a good choice for community-created trips and tricks. However, Microsoft’s application are the real winners when it comes to ease of use and productivity. They also have the benefit of being older and more robust.
When it comes to online access, both of these suites are capable. Documents created in one of their applications can be synced, opened up, and edited on another device. The devices used can be a desktop computer or mobile device. Both suites offer mobile apps on the appstore.
The difference in Google and Microsoft offerings arise in their storage space. Microsoft has OneDrive as it’s storage solution. For a basic business plan, Microsoft offers 50 GB for email storage alone and another 1TB in their OneDrive storage service. The 1 TB limit is a large one, and it’s one of the main draws of Microsoft’s plan. Meanwhile, Google has Google Drive as it’s storage solution. It can hold all files and photos in one place. The downside is that Google only offers 30 GB of storage space in their basic plan. That includes all email, pictures, and documents. Everything counts toward the storage limit.
Both of these suites are capable of syncing and offering access to files regardless of location. Microsoft offers the better deal on storage for business owners though.
While both bundled services had comparative online access, there’s a big difference in the available offline access. Users can use Microsoft’s suite offline with ease while Google’s suite is the more complicated offering.
Microsoft Office apps can be downloaded. Their subscription service gives out five licenses for use on computers, tablets, and phones. Taking the time to go through the download process and losing that hard storage place can be disheartening, but it’s ultimately worth it to have all programs easily accessible. Using programs offline is the same as it was before cloud storage and online editing became commonplace. Users just create and edit their documents. The files that are created or edited offline will sync once the computer is connected to the Internet.
Google does not have their full suite available for download. Users can download Google Drive. for access to their files outside of a web browser. When offline, users can save, access, and edit files only from Docs, Sheets, and Slides. The other apps are not available offline. Google got a head start on online storage space and file editing, but the suite has stayed dependent on an Internet connection to function in a way that allows real productivity.
Everyone would like to feel assured that Internet will always be available wherever they are. Google’s suites rely almost entirely on that idea. However, there are some times Internet access is not available. There are even times Internet access gets shuts off purposely to increase productivity. For those times, Office is the tool you’ll need to stay on task.
The possibility for collaboration among large groups, or among small groups in different geographic locations, is one big selling point for cloud-based services. Naturally, both of the cloud-based services here offer superb collaboration possibilities. Both allow users to edit documents at the same time. In this, the Google editing feature tends to be easier to locate and adjust to. Both allow group chats and conference calling as well. Microsoft pulls ahead here though. Skype for Business allows 250 people to be involved in a conference call while Google’s Hangouts application can lag with just a handful of people. Microsoft also has more user-friendly collaboration options.
Both services allow collaboration between team members both on-site and off-site. Google’s collaboration tools are easy to use, but Office is more dependable and has more communication options.
Microsoft offers more variety in plans. The per person price of these plans is a benefit for small businesses with few employees. Business owners are not paying for any more than what they need. That’s true of the plans as well. The Business Essentials and Business Premium plans are both a good fit for a small business. Essentials does not include the office applications but includes the cloud storage and collaboration solutions. The Business Premium Plan includes all applications and services.
Google has a more basic 3 tier plan for small businesses. These go from basic accounts for storage and file-sharing to an Enterprise suite that includes every application and service Google has to offer. The basic option is comparative in price to Office 365 business essentials. There are no monthly storage limits on the Enterprise edition, and it offers advanced account control. However, the Enterprise option requires talking with a representative to get a fee, at which point the fee is paid annually instead of monthly.
Office 365 comes out in front due to the vast array of applications and services that are provided. Built on the same platform that has been powering large enterprise for decades you get a huge amount of capability for not much at all. Google can’t provide the access to the desktop and mobile suite of applications that Office delivers – with Office 365 you get this for very little investment meaning that if you are serious about creating or editing documents the decision is easy.