Productivity: Google Workspace vs Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft’s Office suite 365 and Google Workspace: cloud productivity tools, what’s the difference? 

Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) are both excellent productivity tools. However, there are significant differences between them, so it is important to consider which is the best option for your organization before purchasing or switching to either. 

Features included with both services: 

  • Email hosting using your own domain, specifically Microsoft 365/Exchange Online and Gmail. 
  • Applications for creating documents, spreadsheets and slide presentations. Microsoft’s Office suite includes Word, PowerPoint and Excel, while Google includes Google Docs, Google Slides and Google Sheets. 
  • Document sharing and collaborative work. Microsoft uses Teams and/or SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, while GSuite allows sharing and collaboration via Google Drive. 
  • Conferencing and internal chat services. Microsoft has Teams while Google offers Hangouts.  

Read on for a comparison of Google Workspace and Office 365, which will hopefully clarify the differences between the two cloud offerings and help you choose the best one for your organization. 

Microsoft 365 

Microsoft 365 takes a “building block” approach. This means that there are core reference services, on top of which other tools can be added. Discounted licenses (such as M365 Standard, Premium E3 and E5) include desktop versions of Office productivity applications, as well as those accessed through the browser. If your users work remotely with poor internet or need to use the more advanced features of Excel and PowerPoint, a more comprehensive Office 365 license might be the best option. 

Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) 

G Suite is one of several Google offers, which also includes access to Google Ad Grants and other products.  

G Suite is completely cloud-based and decentralized in the sense that each document is associated with a certain user, who also has the ability to share access and controls. This lends itself to minimal involvement of IT or administration staff, although you can centrally manage permissions if you wish. As you might expect, G Suite is ideal for users who are familiar with other Google applications. To best utilize G Suite, your users should also be accustomed to storing, sharing and editing documents in the cloud. As an organization, you should outline clear policies and procedures for document management, including editing, ownership and access. 

Administration 

Both solutions are designed for minimal involvement of IT staff or administrators, which will help you manage your licenses and resources with clear and intuitive dashboards. But also, you will reduce overall administrative costs as feature updates, patches and security updates are automatically available through your cloud subscription. 

Google Workspace and Office 365 feature comparison

Interface 

As noted above, your choice is likely to be influenced by your users’ familiarity with each interface. Both allow for a lot of collaboration, although Google’s collaboration services integrate more easily with other Google Drive tools, and Microsoft has recently made a significant investment to ensure that Teams can be a centralized platform for accessing all Microsoft applications within one interface. Both platforms also integrate easily with other project management solutions such as Wrike, SurveyMonkey and HubSpot. 

However, Office 365 desktop applications can be more sophisticated and feature-rich than their Google counterparts. Excel in particular offers an extremely high level of functionality, from creating and color-coding virtually any type of chart to managing workflows. For this reason, if your organization requires advanced functionality in Microsoft applications, such as Word’s SmartArt or the cool animations made possible in PowerPoint, you may be better off with Office 365. 

Although really, when it comes to the interface itself, it’s a matter of user preference. A work team familiar with Microsoft’s interface is likely to find Office 365 more comfortable. On the other hand, someone who has always used Google products will feel more familiar with the user interface within Google Workspace. 

Focus on the cloud 

Google Workspace is completely online and all data is stored in the cloud, whereas Microsoft has online and locally stored versions of its applications and email server. If you have reliable connectivity, working in the cloud should not be a problem. However, it could be a challenge if you frequently have Internet access issues or staff working remotely without a constant Internet connection. Desktop applications currently require a paid version of Office 365, but more on that later. 

Email 

The two email servers are very similar, with the exception of their mail sorting techniques. While Microsoft places emails in folders, Gmail uses “labels,” which you can then use to filter the emails you see.  

Interoperability

You may be tempted to use elements of both to best meet your needs, and this is certainly possible. For example, you could keep your email in GSuites but conduct video conferencing and document collaboration using Teams.  

The main issue will be sharing documents between the two platforms. The ability for multiple users to work on a document at the same time is a great advantage of using either platform, but this is not possible between two users using different platforms. To collaborate across all services, you will need to download and send documents back and forth. This counteracts the usefulness of the collaboration features and often comes at the cost of losing formatting in the document and time in managing multiple systems. 

Licensing and pricing 

With both services, you can “mix and match” your licenses. If, for example, some of your users need features on the paid version of either platform, you can choose to upgrade only those licenses while using the free version for everyone else. This way, you only pay for what your employees use. You can adjust this on a month-to-month basis.  

Installation

For users, the installation process should not be a problem, as long as you adequately train those unfamiliar with the chosen platform.  

Migrating between Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 may require specialist assistance and adaptation time for your users, so make sure your migration really is the best option for your users before choosing to switch.  

Either way, we suggest starting to move your network to cloud-based solutions if you haven’t already done so. 

Two great solutions 

Both are excellent and powerful tools with the ability to meet the needs of most organizations. We hope this comparison will help you choose the best option, whether it’s choosing one platform, sticking with what you’re using, or combining the two platforms to best meet your needs. 

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