Office 365 and G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps for Work) are productivity tools for performing tasks in the cloud. Both let you create documents (Google Docs and Word), spreadsheets (Google Sheets and Excel), and presentations (Google Slide and PowerPoint), as well as letting you collaborate with team members in real time. On top of this, both also offer video conference functionality (Google Hangouts and Skype for Business), as well as cloud storage (via Google Drive or OneDrive).
Pricing and Overview
Your biggest concern is bound to be price-related—so how do Office 365 and G Suite compare in terms of wallet impact?
G Suite offer two main options: Companies (divided in three different price sets) and Teams. For Companies, G Suite offers three tiers of paid services. The lowest is Basic, at $5/user/month. For that, you get:
- Business email addresses (through Gmail)
- Video and voice calls (through Google Hangouts)
- Shared online calendars (via Calendar)
- Online documents, spreadsheets, and presentations (Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides)
- 30 GB of online storage for file syncing and sharing (through Google Drive)
- Google Sites (Google’s tool for building simple websites or intranets)
- Security and admin controls
- 24/7 phone and email support.
Their second tier is Business, at $10/user/month.
- Unlimited cloud storage (or 1TB per user if fewer than 5 users)
- Smart search across G Suite with Cloud Search
- Security and administration controls (with archive and set retention policies for emails and chats)
- eDiscovery for emails, chats, and files
- Audit reports to track user activity
A tier above is the Enterprise plan at $25/user month, where you get all the features of Basic and Business, plus:
- Data loss prevention for Gmail
- Data loss prevention for Drive
- Hosted S/MIME for Gmail
- Integrate Gmail with compliant third-party archiving tools
- Enterprise-grade access control with security key enforcement
Finally, Google offers an option for Teams at $10/user/month.
- Video and voice conferencing
- Documents, spreadsheets, and presentations
- 24/7 support (phone, email, and online)
- Unlimited Cloud Storage (or 1TB per user if fewer than 5 users)
- Team-based User Management
Note that data loss tools only come with the most expensive Enterprise plans. If you want to back up a ‘Basic’ or ‘Business’ G Suite plan, it’s likely you’ll have to invest on a third-party app.
Paid versions of the G Suite are advertisement-free, unlike the free version. You should also note that any documents you create using Google’s apps (such as Docs and Sheets), as well as files shared with you by other users, do not count towards you G Suite storage limit.
With Office 365, plans and pricing becomes a little more complicated. With three plans for Business, and four for Enterprises, as well as several specialized solutions for Educators, Non-profits, Government, Firstline Workers. Plans for Educators and Non-profits, for instance, offer free online-only versions of Office products, while paid services come with the full applications. Microsoft has a full comparison table available for download.
If we’re to compare solely the Business options on both, Office 365 offers an Essentials package at $5/month/user. Aimed at businesses that need a business email and other services, but not Office applications, here’s what’s on offer:
- Microsoft Exchange
- Microsoft Planner
- OneDrive (with 1TB of Storage)
- Email hosting with 50 GB mailbox and custom email domain address
- Web Versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook
- Skype for Business
- User cap at 300 users
- Microsoft Teams
- Commercial Use License
If your business needs Office applications, cloud file storage and sharing, but not business email, Microsoft offers the Business package for $8.95/user/month.
- Desktop versions of Office 2016 applications: Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote (plus Access and Publisher for PC only)
- Web versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
- One license covers 5 phones, 5 tablets, and 5 PCs or Macs per user
- File storage and sharing with 1 TB of OneDrive storage
- 24/7 phone support
And, finally, if your business needs business email, Office applications, and other business services, the Premium service costs $12.50/user/month. Along with all in the two tiers above, it also includes:
- Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, and Outlook Customer Manager
- Microsoft Invoicing, Microsoft Bookings, MileIQ, and Business center
Now that we got pricing out of the way, let’s see how some of the key apps in each suite compare.
Documents: Microsoft Word or Google Docs?
There’s no question here that Word is the most powerful tool. It’s been progressively refined since the beginnings of the 1980s, with new tools and improvements added in each new version.
While Docs has most of the basic editing tools, more expert users will find them severely limited. Word supports the use of macros, is the better option for handling image placement, and offers add-ons from third-party developers, and the cooperation tools on Docs can also be found on Word Online. Google Docs also supports add-ons, but they’re comparatively few, and it’s the same when it comes to file formats. Docs will handle most of them, but Word not only supports more, it’s also better at displaying complex files.
Google Docs might be simpler interface-wise, but it’s simply because it lacks the amount of features Word has. When it comes to documents, Word remains the best option for technical writers.
This is where Office 365 has the clear advantage over G Suite since most Office 365 plans offer all the desktop versions of their products along with the cloud-based ones. This lets you install the full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and so on, so you can work with them offline. Many businesses still rely on locally created files using these applications, so having the desktop versions of these apps is highly beneficial.
Not just that, but for the advanced user, Google’s apps just won’t cut it. Microsoft Word is a better processor overall than Google Docs; Excel is the best available for advanced calculations; and PowerPoint will let you make better slide presentations than Google Slides.
Email: Outlook vs Gmail
The entry level Office 365 plan offers a dedicated 50GB inbox on top of the 1TB file storage provided, whereas Google’s plan caps total storage at 30GB (emails and files included). On the other hand, G Suite’s $10 tier, gives you unlimited inbox storage (as long as your team has more than 5 users). The Office 365 plans, however, only give you a 100GB mailbox at best. While 100GB is still a lot, some might still be more inclined to take the unlimited space, since it’s, well… unlimited.
In terms of email clients, Gmail is solid. Its powerful search functionality lets you find messages easily, and because it’s so hugely popular, there are countless third-party apps available to meet your more functional needs. One big drawback: Gmail doesn’t allow you to sort or group mail, so you may find yourself needing to use Gmail along with another email program such as, yes—Outlook.
One of the biggest appeals of Office 365 is getting your hands on an Outlook key. Most Office 365 include both online and offline versions of Outlook, which is extremely flexible when it comes to organizing your emails. And again, you can always use it along with Gmail.
Video Conference: Hangouts or Skype for Business?
Hangouts comes with every G Suite plan, and while Skype for Business can be purchased separately for $2/user/month, there’s little need for it, since it’s included in all Office 365’s Business subscriptions.
Small companies and startups might find
Hangouts appealing due to its low price. But that also comes with a 30 person per call limit, so if you need to host large conference calls, you might find yourself severely limited with Hangouts. Skype for Business, on the other hand, supports both small and large businesses, and has a limit of 250 people per call.
Storage: Google Drive or OneDrive?
If we’re talking the basic plans, then Office 365 is a clear winner here: you get 1TB of storage with the Business Essentials plan compared to Google’s 30GB on its Basic plan—and Google counts emails as taking up space in those 30GB.
If you move up a notch to the G Suite Business plan, you’ll find Google beat all but the most expensive Microsoft plans when it comes to storage department—so long as you have 5 or more users.
If you meet the 5-user criteria, the G Suite Business plan will give you unlimited storage, which will be valuable for companies who store a lot of data in the cloud. Microsoft Office 365’s 1TB limit (which applies to most of its plans) is nothing to scoff at, but you’ll notice you’ll reach 1TB fast if you’re working with video, audio, and more space-demanding files.
However, if all you want to work with are standard documents and spreadsheets, a 1 TB limit per user should be more than enough to meet the needs of small to medium sized businesses. If you really do need infinite storage and your business has more than five users, then it’s mostly a win here for G Suite—if you’re prepared to pay $10 per user every month.
It’s worth noting that you can use both G Suite in conjunction with Office. G Suite’s unlimited storage is very attractive, and you can keep that to store your files on the cloud while using offline Microsoft apps. But if your organization falls within the specialization solutions Microsoft offers, there’s little reason to pick G Suite over Office 365. Or it could be you’d be better served by a combination of both. You can contact one of your experts to know which plan is right for you.