How to choose between Office 365 and G Suite

Two of the largest and most popular business productivity apps out on the market today are Office 365 and G Suite (formerly named Google Apps). Both of these allow you to use the productivity tools in the cloud. With both being in such high demand, they’re neck and neck when it comes to features. While it’s a difficult decision to make for your company, there are some important differences between these two products.

In this article, we’ll compare features along with price, size, space limits, and ease-of-use. In future posts we’ll dive deeper into the most interesting features of these productivity apps and provide you with the best tips and tricks to save you many hours each week, so make sure to sign up for updates!

Plans offered by Google

G Suite makes this choice much more simple, as there are only two options to choose from. They include G Suite Basic (previously Google Apps for Work) and G Suite Business (which was Google Apps Unlimited).

Google G SuiteG Suite Basic features all this for $5/user/month:

  • A business email address ([email protected])
  • Video and voice calls with Google Hangout
  • Integrated online calendars
  • 30GB of online storage for file syncing and sharing
  • Online text documents, spreadsheets, and slides
  • Easy to create project sites
  • Security and admin controls
  • 24/7 phone and email support

G Suite in useG Suite Business includes all the features of G Suite Basic, plus the following functionalities for $10/user/month:

  • Unlimited storage (or 1TB per user if fewer than 5 users)
  • Advanced admin controls for Google Drive
  • Audit and reporting insights for Drive content and sharing
  • Google Vault for eDiscovery, covering emails, chats, docs, and files
  • Easily search and export to different formats
  • Archive all emails sent by your company
  • Set message retention policies
  • Place and enforce litigation holds on inboxes

There’s also a nice added bonus: Documents created with Google apps (not third-party applications) don’t count to your storage restriction. Also, the Google Vault feature mentioned here stores all communications within your company based on your rules.

Plans offered by Microsoft

Microsoft Office 365Now, here’s where it becomes a bit more complicated. Microsoft offers many different options, including:

  • Business plans — Some don’t require an annual commitment, but limit the maximum number of users to 300:
    • Office 365 Business Essentials: with annual commitment, $5/user/month; without annual commitment, $6/user/month
    • Office 365 Business: with annual commitment, $8.25/user/month; without annual commitment, $10/user/month
    • Office 365 Business Premium: with annual commitment, $12.50/user/month; without annual commitment, $15/user/month
  • Enterprise Plans (all require annual commitment):
    • Office 365 ProPlus: $12.00/user/month
    • Office 365 Enterprise E1: $8.00/user/month
    • Office 365 Enterprise E3: $20.00/user/month
    • Office 365 Enterprise E5: $35.00/user/month

While all these plans are different, there are a few very important things to take away from each of them. If having a desktop version of the Microsoft Office product suite, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, are important to you, do not get the Office 365 Business Essentials or the Office 365 Enterprise E1 plan. These only provide these applications on the cloud, not the full offline apps.

Likewise, if having a “business class email, calendar, and contacts with a 50 GB inbox per user” is important to you, avoid Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus.

While I wish this could be a simple comparison between the Google and Microsoft’s offered productivity services, they have very different features. So, while I’m sure this isn’t the answer you want to hear, choosing which one to use depends on your business. Let’s talk about a few of the most important features.

Email

MS OutlookWhen you’re looking at email storage, the Office 365 Business Essentials plan ($5/month or $6/month) has a 50GB inbox in addition to the 1TB file storage that comes with the plan. This is a much better option if you’re comparing it to G Suite Basic plan($5/month) that only has 30GB of space available for emails and files.

Yet, if you need more storage than either of these plans can provide, Google wins over Microsoft as long as Gmail App on a smartphoneyou have more than five people on your team. The $10/month G Suite Business plan offers unlimited storage, including in your inbox. If there are fewer than five people included in the plan, it is restricted to 1TB per user. The comparable Office 365 plan is the Enterprise E3 plan, which gives you unlimited email storage but for $20/month and requires a yearly commitment.
Lastly, there’s the choice between Gmail and Outlook. This is typically more a question of personal preference; Gmail typically offers more third-party apps, while Outlook has better sort and grouping features.

So, to answer the question of which is better for email, ask yourself these four questions:

  • How much total storage do you need?
  • How many people are on your team?
  • Can you commit to an annual plan?
  • Do you prefer the Gmail or Outlook interface?

Storage space

This is pretty similar to the email comparison. Office 365 Business Essentials gives 1TB of storage to each user for $5/month with an annual commitment, whereas G Suite Basic gives only 30GB for the same price with only a monthly commitment. Don’t forget that email counts toward your 30GB allotment.

Yet, once again, with G Suite Business ($10/month), as long as you have more than 5 users, this is undoubtedly the way to go. Microsoft instead caps all of its plans at 1TB, although it offers unlimited email storage for its Office 365 Enterprise E3 ($20/month with a one-year commitment required) and E5 plans ($35/month with one-year commitment required).

So, ask yourself the same questions:

  • How much total storage do you need?
  • How many people are on your team?
  • Can you commit to an annual plan?

Applications

Microsoft Office AppsNow, this is one of the main reasons certain people choose Office 365 over G Suite. With most of the Office 365 options (all apart from Office 365 Business Essentials or the Office 365 Enterprise E1 plan), you receive a desktop version of each app in addition to one on the cloud. This means that each user will have Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and more, on their own machines.

While the main reason to use either Office 356 or G Suite is to also have cloud functionality, these Microsoft applications are still used at an incredibly high rate on local computers. Also, the MS versions are much less basic than the G Suite applications.

While Google Sheets has the incredible new feature of being able to use everyday language with its calculations, Excel has a greater number of advanced options. The same applies to Microsoft Word when compared to Google Docs. The basic functionality is there in all G Suite applications, but the Microsoft programs are more advanced.

On this note, though, don’t forget that Microsoft Office files can be opened on G Suite and G Suite can save files as Microsoft Office versions. For example, you can write something on Google Pages then download it as a Microsoft Word document, although the formatting won’t always carry over exactly.

Also, because of habit, it’s arguable that many people will use Microsoft Office applications offline rather than working on the cloud. So, if you’re committed to switching to the cloud, keep this in mind.

G Suite AppsAlso, if you very much want your team to work on the cloud for its collaboration possibilities, it’s worth mentioning that many reviews put G Suite above Microsoft for its more streamlined approach to this aspect. This is likely because G Suite was designed particularly with collaboration in mind.

Because of this, a number of people actually combine the two options by buying the local, offline versions of all Microsoft Office applications but using G Suite for the cloud storage and collaboration.

So, in terms of applications, you’ll need to ask yourself:

  • Do you prefer you or your team to do work on the cloud or have your work saved locally to later be uploaded?
  • Do you prefer Microsoft Office applications or need them for specific jobs (such as advanced Excel calculations or perfect formatting)?
  • How much do you value online collaboration between users?
  • Can your team afford to buy offline Microsoft apps and use the G Suite cloud?

Time to choose

Because of all the different services and options offered, there are some more considerations that we weren’t able to discuss in this article, such as details on Skype calls and Google Hangouts. While we focused on the most important aspects of these business productivity apps, if there’s something you want to know more about, check out the G SuiteOffice 365 Business, and the Office 365 Enterprise pricing and plan options.

To help you decide, though, just ask yourself the questions proposed at the end of each section. Hopefully, from here, you can narrow it down to two or three options to then compare the minute details on each respective site that we’ve provided.

Photo credits: Bill Abbott, Google, Microsoft

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