Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace — Which is Best for Your Business?
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Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) — which is best? This is a question that many businesses, particularly startups, have a lot of trouble answering.
So, in this post, I’m going to put the two product suites head to head in a detailed comparison. I’ll explore all the pros and cons of each product in depth and explain why, and when, you might want to use one over the other.
Let’s start with an important question…
What do Microsoft 365 and G Suite do?
Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace are a suite of productivity tools that let you perform common business tasks ‘in the cloud’ using a web browser.
- sending emails
- managing calendars
- creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations
- video conferencing
- file management
- team collaboration.
Microsoft 365 also provides a comprehensive range of desktop applications — programs that you install on your computer, rather than using online.
Both products recently underwent a name change — until recently, Microsoft 365 was called Office 365, and Google Workspace was called G Suite.
Pricing — how do Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 compare?
The pricing structure for Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 differs by country, but is broadly comparable from one territory to another.
For the purposes of this comparison, I’m looking at the plans priced in USD.
Google Workspace pricing
Choosing a Google Workspace plan is fairly straightforward. There are four plans available:
- Business Starter — $6 per user per month
- Business Standard — $12 per user per month
- Business Plus — $18 per user per month
- Enterprise — custom pricing
The key differences to watch out for between these plans are as follows:
- Storage — this is limited to just 30GB per user on the ‘Business Starter’ plan; by contrast the ‘Business Standard’, ‘Business Plus’ and ‘Enterprise’ plans give you 2TB, 5TB and unlimited storage respectively per user.
- Video calls — you can have 100 participants on a call using the ‘Business Starter’ plan, 150 with ‘Business Standard’ and 250 with ‘Business Plus’ and ‘Enterprise.’ (It’s important to note that the ‘Business Starter’ plan doesn’t facilitate the recording of video conference calls.)
- Security features — on the ‘Business Plus’ and ‘Enterprise’ plans you get significantly more security features. These include ‘Vault’, a tool for retaining and searching your users’ data, and endpoint management, which gives you more control over how users can access Google Workspace features and data across different devices.
- Searching features — all plans except the ‘Business Starter’ plan give you access to a ‘smart search’ tool called Google Cloud search. This functionality makes it easier to locate files within an organisation’s Google Workspace storage.
- App creation — if you’re on the ‘Enterprise’ plan, you get access to Google’s ‘Appsheet’ tool. This is a ‘no-code’ tool that aims to let you build mobile and web apps without coding.
Let’s take a look at Microsoft 365 pricing now.
Microsoft 365 pricing
The pricing options for Microsoft 365 are considerably more complicated, because there are home, business, enterprise, government, non-profit and education versions available — and within these, a lot of sub-versions.
This means there’s a lot of flexibility — but it’s rather confusing trawling through all the plans to work out which one is best suited to your requirements.
For the purposes of this review, I’m going to focus on the Microsoft 365 plans which are geared towards small business and enterprise users.
These are as follows:
Small business / SMEs
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic — $5 per user per month
- Microsoft 365 Apps — $8.25 per user per month
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard — $12.50 per user per month
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium — $20.00 per user per month
You can compare all the business plans here.
- Microsoft 365 E1 — $8 per user per month
- Microsoft 365 E3 — $20 per user per month
- Microsoft 365 E5 — $35 per user per month
- Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise — $12 per user per month
You can compare all the enterprise plans here.
The main things to note about these options are as follows:
- To get the best value out of Microsoft 365, you need to pay annually. Each 365 ‘Business’ plan comes in a couple of dollars more expensive if you pay monthly, and with the ‘Enterprise’ plans, there’s no option to. By contrast, all the Google Workspace pricing is based on a per-month basis, which may suit some organisations — for example, those with regular changes in the number of staff, or those using contractors — a bit better.
- Storage varies by plan. The Business plans all provide 1TB storage per user, but depending on the plan and the number of users involved, the Enterprise ones can give you unlimited storage.
- The ‘Microsoft 365’ apps plans only provide you with the desktop apps (i.e., the versions of Word, Excel etc. that. you install on your computer).
- The Microsoft 365 ‘Business’ plans all limit the maximum number of users to 300; by contrast, you can have an unlimited number of users on the ‘Enterprise’ Microsoft plans.
- All plans provide you with with installable versions of the Microsoft Office product suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc.) but the ‘Business Basic’ and ‘E1’ plans only give you access to the mobile / online versions.
- Not all of the 365 plans provide users with an email account — if you want to use Microsoft 365 as your email service provider, you’ll need to avoid both the Business and Enterprise ‘Microsoft 365 Apps’ plans.
- You can only avail of a fully functional version of Microsoft Stream (its video collaboration service) on the Enterprise plans.
As you can probably see by now, although it’s helpful get an idea of the pricing of both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, there are so many different plans available that a pricing comparison is not going to give you the clearest answer on which of these tools is best for you.
To get that, you need to focus on features — so let’s drill down into these.
Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace: the features
If we’re talking entry-level plans, then Microsoft 365 is a clear winner here: you get 1TB of storage with the ‘Business Basic’ plan compared to Google’s rather paltry 30GB on its ‘Business Starter’ plan.
(To add insult to injury, Google also counts emails as taking up space in this 30GB limit.)
However, if you move up to the Google Workspace ‘Business Standard’ or ‘Business Plus’ plans, you’ll find that Google starts getting more competitive.
With these Google Workspace plans, you get 2TB or 5TB storage respectively, which is extremely useful to any business that has a need to store a large quantity of files in the cloud. This compares positively to all the Microsoft ‘Business’ plans, which all cap file storage at 1TB.
Although Microsoft’s 1TB limit is also pretty generous, you’d be surprised how quickly you can burn through 1TB of storage if you’re uploading large image, video or audio files to the cloud.
That said, if you’re just talking about working with standard documents and spreadsheets, a 1 TB limit per user should be perfectly adequate for most small to medium sized businesses.
Microsoft does provide more generous file storage on its ‘Enterprise’ plans; if you’re on a $20+ plan you can avail of 5TB storage per user (so long as you have 5+ users in your organisation).
Ultimately however, if cloud storage is your primary concern, it’s generally a win here for Google Workspace — on most of its plans you can get more file storage, more cheaply than with 365.
It’s important to note however that Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace give you the option to buy more storage on a per user basis.
Prices for this aren’t listed publicly by Microsoft — you have to contact them to discuss storage upgrades.
As for Google Workspace, there are several tiers of additional data storage purchase options. These start at 4GB ($4 extra per user per month) and go up to 16TB per user ($1,430 per user per month!).
Depending on how much storage you need for particular users however, you may find it works out cheaper to simply upgrade all your Google Workspace users to a plan featuring more storage than to buy more of it.
The entry level $5 per month Microsoft 365 plan, ‘Business Basic,’ is considerably more generous than Google Workspace equivalent when it comes to email storage — a dedicated 50GB inbox is available on top of the 1TB file storage provided.
By comparison, the $6 per user per month Google Workspace ‘Business Starter’ plan caps total storage at 30GB, emails and files included.
However, if you’re on one of the other Google plans, the limits are more generous than the Microsoft ones — you’re talking about a 2GB to 5GB storage range (or unlimited storage if you’re on the ‘Enterprise’ plan).
However, Microsoft’s email storage limits can be more generous than the numbers suggest, thanks to a feature called ‘auto-expanding archiving.’ Available on the ‘E3’ and ‘E5’ plans, this allows you to archive old emails to an archive which is unlimited in size.
It’s slightly more complicated than just having an inbox which is unlimited in size — a degree of configuration is involved — but it does mean that you never really have to worry about mailbox size.
Technically, you can use any email program you like to access your Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 mail, but the default apps provided are Gmail and Outlook respectively.
Gmail is robust, fast and very easy to find messages with, thanks to its powerful search functionality (you’d expect that side of things to be good, given that it’s Google we’re talking about here).
Also, given the popularity of Gmail, there is a large range of third-party apps available for it which add useful functionality to proceedings.
However — and rather frustratingly — Gmail really doesn’t allow you to sort or group mail, something most users will routinely require from an email client. (You can search for messages using prefixes like ‘from’ or ‘to’, which does provide something of a workaround — but it’s not as useful as proper sorting or grouping functionality).
Accordingly, you may find yourself wanting to use Gmail in conjunction with a desktop email program — for example the excellent (and free) Thunderbird, or, whisper it, Outlook.
And speaking of which, getting your hands on Outlook is a key attraction of Microsoft 365.
On most 365 plans you get access to two versions of Outlook: an online version, which is okay, but — mail sorting functionality aside — Gmail probably betters in most respects; and an offline version, which is feature rich and provides a lot of flexibility when it comes to how you sort, group, label and generally manage your email.
Desktop applications: the main argument for using Microsoft 365?
Here is where things get pretty interesting, and where a LOT of potential users of 365 and Google Workspace will be tempted to go for Microsoft 365.
With most of the 365 plans you get all the desktop versions of the Microsoft products as well as the cloud-based ones — you can install the full versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook etc. on your desktop PC or laptop, and work offline using these applications.
Despite this being the age of cloud computing, a huge number of businesses still send each other files created locally using these applications, so there is a strong argument for having desktop versions of all the above available.
Having the desktop versions installed also allows your team to work more easily with these file formats.
Another argument in favour of having the MS applications installed in your organisation boils down to functionality. It’s fair to say that the Google apps are definitely more basic in terms of what they can do than their Microsoft desktop app equivalents.
(It’s also fair to say that the online versions of the Microsoft apps are not yet as sophisticated or feature-packed as the desktop versions of them).
So, if you’re looking to do some advanced number crunching, Excel will beat Google Sheets; if you want to add some ‘Smart Art’ in a document, you’ll need to be working in Microsoft Word rather than Google Docs; and if you need slick slide animations in a presentation, Powerpoint will do a better job than Google Slides.
However, that shouldn’t deter you entirely from using Google Workspace, because
- the functionality provided by Google’s apps is still fairly extensive, and more than adequate for a lot of users
- it is possible to open Microsoft Office documents using them, and even save files created with Google Workspace to Microsoft Office format.
The problem with using Google Workspace to create or edit Microsoft files however is that you can’t always preserve the exact formatting of Office files when you save them using a Google app.
How much of a big deal this is for you will depend on the nature of your business. If you are expected by clients to routinely provide them with extensively, immaculately formatted MS Office files then you’re sometimes going to struggle to do that with Google Workspace.
But if you just need to occasionally open an MS Office file, or send something basic over to a client in MS Office format, you would usually be able to make do perfectly well with Google’s suite of products.
The other thing to remember about the Microsoft desktop applications is that as nice as they are, and as familiar with them as your team may be, they have to be installed locally.
This means that that somebody in your organisation will need to take care of this aspect of things — and this person has to know what they’re doing.
This ‘local install’ aspect of using the Microsoft desktop apps may therefore bring with it some hidden IT costs. At the very least, there’s a time implication — your team will need to devote some hours to downloading, installing and periodically updating the applications correctly.
This ‘hidden cost’ issue becomes a bigger consideration the more users you have.
There’s also something else you might want to consider about giving your team access to the desktop apps: habit or human nature.
Most people like to work with tools they’re familiar with, and, given the long history of Microsoft Office products, your team may decide to opt for the locally installed versions of the Microsoft 365 products over the cloud-based, collaborative tools it also provides.
This will possibly encourage ‘local’ or offline working at the expense of the more collaborative cloud approach that Google Workspace naturally encourages; and working offline can throw up some security headaches too.
Conversely, if you create a working environment where your organisation only uses browser-based applications that save documents to the cloud, then your data is arguably more secure (so long as you have backup procedures in place) and your team are more likely to make fuller use of collaboration features.
So you could argue that the Google apps — due to their cloud-only nature — are likelier to nudge people in this direction.
Finally on the subject of apps, don’t forget that there is nothing to stop you from using both Google Workspace and MS Office apps in conjunction with each other. If you are tempted by the unlimited cloud storage provided by Google Workspace, but want to save Word documents in it, you could buy the offline versions of the Microsoft applications that you use regularly, and save files created in them to your Google Drive.
(That said, you would be closing down a lot of real-time collaboration possibilities by working in this fashion, and making life more expensive).
While you’re here…
We can help you set up or migrate to both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.
Contact us today to find out more about how we can arrange a professional, risk-free installation of these two leading cloud productivity suites.
Or find out more about our services: Microsoft 365 setup and migration | Google Workspace setup and migration.
We’re based in the UK but provide these services worldwide.
Web applications in Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace
Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace both offer a set of web applications which have (sometimes rough) equivalents in both product suites, namely:
- Word > Google Docs (Word processing)
- Excel > Google Sheets (Spreadsheets)
- Powerpoint > Google Slides (Presentations)
- Outlook Online > Gmail (Email)
- One Note Online > Google Keep (Notes)
- Sharepoint > Google Sites (Website building)
- Microsoft Teams > Google Meet (Conference calling)
- Yammer > Currents (Internal social networking / intranet feature)
These are broad equivalents, in that their feature set is not exactly going to match the corresponding app.
There is one app included in Microsoft 365 for which there isn’t really a Google Workspace equivalent: ‘Stream.’
Microsoft Stream is a video service which allows people in your organization can upload, view, and share videos securely (for example recordings of classes, meetings, presentations, training sessions, or other videos that aid your team’s collaboration).
This app also makes it easy to share comments on a video, tag timecodes in comments and add descriptions that refer to specific points in a video. It also automatically transcribes video content using speech recognition software, making videos more ‘searchable’ using text queries.
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A huge advantage of working in the cloud is the collaboration possibilities it opens up.
Instead of messing about with markup and ‘tracking changes’, people who want to work on the same file can simply open up a document in a browser and see, in real time, the edits that everybody looking at the file is making.
Both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 make this sort of online collaboration straightforward using their online apps.
Additionally, you can now use Microsoft’s desktop apps to work on documents in real time with other team members (who can collaborate with you whilst using either the online or offline version of them).
My experience of using the desktop versions of Microsoft 365 apps to collaborate wasn’t quite as smooth a process as doing so using the online versions — in my tests I found that the installed versions were occasionally a little sluggish when it came to displaying updates to my documents — but on the whole, they all worked fine.
I would on balance say that collaboration functionality in Google Workspace is a bit easier to get your head around than Microsoft 365’s, possibly because the product
1) is a bit less feature packed;
2) was conceived with collaboration as a really key feature (Microsoft 365, by contrast, has evolved from being a suite of desktop applications into a solution that features collaborative tools).
All in all though, both product suites definitely allow you to collaborate with co-workers effectively — but to get the smoothest collaboration experience with the Microsoft apps, I’d recommend using the cloud-based versions.
See below for a video highlighting some collaboration options in Google Docs.
Let’s take a look at another form of collaboration now: video calls.
Did you know?
You can try both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 for free (14 days in the case of Google Workspace, 1 month in the case of Microsoft 365). This is a good, hands-on, way to establish which of these platforms best meets your needs.
Both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 provide video conferencing functionality: ‘Meet’ and ‘Microsoft Teams’ respectively.
Microsoft 365 is more generous when it comes to participant limits on video calls though: you can have 300 participants in a business call (and up to 10,000 if hosting a live event).
By contrast, the maximum number of participants in a Google Meet is 100 on the ‘Business Starter’ plan; 150 on the ‘Business Standard’ plan; or 250 on the ‘Business Plus’ plan.
If you’re looking for serious voice calling functionality in general — both in terms of conference calling or general telephony services — Microsoft 365 offers a lot more options, but you will have to be on one of its most expensive plans to avail of these features.
(Google now offers a separate add-on to Google Workspace, however, Google Voice, which is worth looking if telecommunications features are a key requirement).
Google Drive Stream vs One Drive — what are the syncing options in Microsoft 365 and Google Apps like?
Both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace provide desktop apps for syncing local data with the cloud and vice versa. There are currently three apps available for this purpose:
- Google Drive for Desktop
- Microsoft OneDrive
- Microsoft OneDrive Files on Demand
These apps allow you to save a file in the cloud which then appears locally — or vice versa. This is handy for when you want to work on documents offline, or want to back up or upload local files to your cloud storage (the downside of this is that it makes your data less secure — if your laptop gets stolen for example, so does your data).
These apps work in slightly different ways:
- OneDrive makes all your files available locally (or at least the ones you choose to sync) — this is handy for users who know they will be doing quite a lot of work offline on a lot of files.
- With Google Drive for Desktop and OneDrive Files on Demand, files are not actually downloaded to your computer until you open them. You still see all your files and folders as if they were present on your computer — but they actually live in the cloud until you double click on a filename (at which point it is downloaded and opened).
The so-called ‘streaming’ approach provides two key benefits over the ‘save everything locally’ one: first, a minimal amount of local disk space is required to store your files.
Second, you don’t have to sit around waiting for all of your files to sync — just the one you’re working on (but if you want to, both Google Drive for Desktop and One Drive Files on Demand give you the option to make files permanently available offline too).
It’s important to note however, that One Drive Files on Demand is currently only available for more recent versions of Windows and Mac OS (Windows 10 Fall Creators Update / Mac OS 10.14 or newer).
By contrast, Google Drive for Desktop can be installed on Windows 7 or higher, and Mac OS 10.12 or higher, meaning that it might be more suitable for users with older machines or those who need to stick with an older OS for now.
As you’d expect, there are mobile apps (iOS and Android) available for both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 — these allow you to access and edit your files on the go.
My experience with both has been fairly positive; it’s certainly possible to access the information quickly on both sets of apps easily, but I’m not sure how inclined I’d be to do a lot of editing of spreadsheets, for example, on a smartphone (far too fiddly!).
The good thing about both sets of mobile apps is that they make editing your work on-the-go in areas where you don’t have Internet access very easy — so long as you save the files you want to work onto your mobile device before you go offline (see the section below on working offline for more details).
One app to rule them all?
Microsoft’s approach to mobile apps is slightly different to Google’s — in addition to providing separate mobile versions of their products, the company has created an app that combines Excel, Powerpoint and Word into one product.
Called simply ‘Office Mobile,’ this lets you view, edit, and share files without the need to switch between different apps. Some PDF creating and note-taking facilities are also included as features.
Realistically, a majority of users will probably end up using the mail applications the most — and these are the apps I’ve had the most experience with.
Google’s mail app (Gmail) is undeniably brilliant when it comes to searching for old messages — as you’d expect from a company specialising in search engine functionality/
However, as with the browser-based version of Gmail, you can’t sort or group mail by sender — and this will annoy some users.
The mobile version of Outlook is a bit disappointing too: you can filter mail by unread or flagged messages (as well as those containing attachments), but as with the Gmail app, you can’t sort or group mail by sender.
There is a ‘focused inbox’ available in the mobile version of Outlook however which some might find handy — this looks at your interactions with other senders over time to automatically create a list of messages that Outlook believes need your attention more urgently than others.
In terms of which of these apps is best, I would say that it depends on whether you value searchability over having urgent emails flagged up via the ‘focused inbox.’
If you prefer, there’s always the option to use your device’s default Mail app with either Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace too.
Advanced features in Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace
There are various features that are available on certain Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 plans that will be of relevance to users with advanced requirements.
Features common to both products’ higher end plans are:
- Intranet building tools
- E-discovery tools
- Advanced reporting
- Email archiving
- Legal holds on inboxes
- Data loss prevention tools
Microsoft offers some additional advanced functionality on its most expensive plans, including
- Advanced virus protection
- Mailbox rights management
- Cloud-based phone call hosting services
- Personal and organizational analytics
You can avail of some advanced functionality a bit cheaper with Google Workspace. For example, e-Discovery tools, advanced reporting, email archiving and legal holds on inboxes are available on the $18 per month Google Workspace ‘Business Plus’ plan.
By contrast, if you are hoping to avail of most of the functionality listed above using Microsoft 365, you’ll have to bear in mind that it is only available on their more expensive plans — the $20 per user per month E3 plan or the $35 per user per month E5 plan. (But what you’ll get on this front will be more comprehensive).
24/7 phone support in English is offered for users of both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365; hours for support in other languages vary depending on country. Email support is also offered for both products; and there are various support forums available for them both too.
In addition to the official channels, it’s also possible to enlist certified Google Workspace experts or certified Microsoft 365 specialists to provide support — this is particularly useful during a setup or migration period.
Interface and ease of use
So which is easier to use, Google Workspace or Microsoft 365? Which product comes with the steeper learning curve?
As with much else in this comparison, the fairest answer (unfortunately!) is probably ‘it depends.’
Because of the ubiquity of Microsoft Office apps, there is a strong case to be made that people using Microsoft 365 are likely to already be familiar with how Microsoft applications work, and thus be in a better position to ‘hit the ground running’ with them.
You could also argue however that the simpler, more stripped-back productivity tools bundled with Google Workspace generate a gentler learning curve for users who are new to online collaboration.
For example, I personally much prefer working in Google Docs to the desktop version of Word, because there’s no load time whatsoever and only a few menu options to be distracted by. My Google document is always saved to the cloud and I can pick up where I left off on it at any point, on any device.
The online version of MS Word lets you work in a similar fashion — but it arguably feels a little bit more ‘fussy’ and in my experience takes a bit longer to load.
However Microsoft 365 is unquestionably much better than Google Workspace — as you might expect — for editing MS Office documents and saving them without formatting problems (as discussed above, although you can save to MS Office format using Google Workspace, you can often end up with formatting headaches).
Ultimately I think both products are fairly straightforward to use. If editing MS Office files is going to be a big part of your job, then Microsoft 365 will feel a lot more familiar and present less of a learning curve; if facilitating internal collaboration effectively is more the concern, then Google Workspace is arguably a slightly better bet.
How to work offline with Google Workspace
Given that Google Workspace is essentially designed to run in a browser, a key question many potential Google Apps users typically have is “will I be able to work offline?”
The answer is: yes. On a desktop computer, you’ll need to do two things: 1) ensure that you’ve installed Google’s Chrome browser and 2) switch on file syncing. This will allow you to access and edit Google documents, sheets and slides offline; any changes you make to them will be synced to the cloud when you reconnect to the Internet.
With regard to Gmail, you can use it offline so long as you are using Chrome and have enabled offline mail. (Again you’ll need to ensure you download all your mail before going offline). After that, when you send emails offline in Gmail, they will go into a new “Outbox” folder and get sent as soon as you go back online.
You can also work offline using Google’s mobile apps — however, you have to let Google Workspace know that you want a particular file to be available offline first (by checking an option that downloads it to your mobile device).
How to work offline with Microsoft 365
With Microsoft 365, the best way to work offline on a desktop computer is by using the standard desktop applications in conjunction with the desktop version of OneDrive.
As with Google Workspace, ensure you’ve synced everything to your desktop computer before going offline — you can then work on any file in Word, Excel etc. and when you reconnect to the Internet any changes you have made will be synced.
365’s mobile apps also let you work offline, but as with Google’s mobile apps, you’ll need to download individual files to your mobile device first to access them on the go.
Extending the functionality of Google Workspace and Microsoft 365
If you are not happy with the functionality provided by the Google Workspace apps and Microsoft 365, there are two ways you can extend the functionality of both suites of products.
The first, and simplest, is by installing an ‘add-on’ to the products. Both Microsoft and Google have online stores that provide a wide range of apps to beef up their productivity tools — the ‘Microsoft Appsource’ store and the ‘Google Workspace Marketplace’ respectively. Lots of free and paid-for apps are available for both systems.
The other way to enhance the functionality of both products is to code something yourself.
If you have the know-how, you can use the Microsoft or Google APIs (application program interfaces) to add a bespoke piece of functionality to your chosen set of productivity tools.
You can read more about the Google Workspace API on the Google Developers site; the relevant information about the Microsoft API can be found here.
Google Workspace users can also avail of a ‘low-code’ option for adding bespoke functionality to Google’s apps. Called “Apps Script,” you can use it to build add-ons or automate processes that are specific to your business or organisation. The below video gives a brief introduction to the tool.
If you’re on the Enterprise ersion of Google Workspace you also get access to the Appsheet product — which Google describes as an ‘intelligent no-code platform.’ You can use this to create a variety of automations.
Finally, you’ll also find that there are a number of companies and developers who develop particular products that are designed to work ‘over’ Google Workspace and Microsoft 365.
Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace: conclusion
Ultimately, Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace are both excellent tools for managing the productivity side of your business, with Microsoft 365 arguably winning on product features, and Google Workspace winning when it comes to making collaboration easy.
Google Workspace is also slightly more generously priced when it comes to file storage (so long as you are not on its entry level plan).
For me, I would probably focus on six key areas in making the final decision between the tools:
- The need your organisation may have to edit Microsoft Office documents
- Your file storage requirements
- Your email storage requirements
- The nature of your working environment
- IT implications
I’ll summarize my thoughts on these areas in turn below before rounding up this 365 vs Google Workspace comparison with a list of key pros and cons of both products.
If you work in an organisation that absolutely has to work with MS Office files regularly — and particularly if you need to use the advanced functionality that MS Office applications provide — then the natural choice is definitely going to be Microsoft 365.
(Make sure that you select a plan that includes the desktop applications, however).
Although Google Workspace can be used to produce and edit Microsoft documents, this functionality is limited and you can expect hiccups when you try to edit and save a complex Microsoft document or spreadsheet with a Google Workspace app.
That said, Google Workspace technically allows you to edit both documents produced with Google Workspace and MS Office apps — this is not true of Microsoft 365.
So, if you have a client base that works with both Office and Google Workspace files, there may be an advantage in going for Google Workspace (so long as your needs are relatively simple on the MS Office formatting front).
If having a serious quantity of cloud storage available is your overriding concern, then Google Workspace is generally the better bet. Its ‘Business Standard’ and ‘Business Plus’ plans provide you with 2TB and 5TB file storage respectively, at a reasonable price; the most you’ll get with Microsoft 365 is 2TB, and for that you’ll need to be on an expensive Enterprise plan.
If your organisation sends and receives a large amount of mail, then might find yourself drawn towards the $18 per month ‘Business Plus’ Google Workspace plan, as it comes with 5TB of file storage — more than you’ll get on any Microsoft 365 plan.
If you’re on a budget however, and email storage is a big issue for you, you’ll find that the Microsoft 365 plans are often more generous than their Google Workspace equivalents when it comes to email storage, especially when you factor in the ‘unlimited archive’ functionality provided by Microsoft 365.
The working environment that you are hoping to deploy Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 in should also be factored into your final decision. If your organisation uses a wide mix of devices and operating systems, then you could potentially make life easier for your users by plumping for Google Workspace, which is designed to run online (ideally in a web browser — but apps are available for all the major mobile operating systems).
With Google Workspace, it simply won’t matter whether your team members use Macs, PCs, Linux-based machines, or Chromebooks…everything will look, feel and function exactly the same.
But if your organisation is entirely MS Windows-based, there’s a lot to be said for Microsoft 365 — a plan which involves the desktop apps will slot very neatly into such an environment. This is especially true if you intend to use Access and Publisher — these 365 apps are exclusively available to Windows-based users.
Whilst it’s always a good idea to have some IT resource available, the resource and IT cost implication for deploying, maintaining and supporting Google Workspace will often be lower than for Microsoft 365 — particularly if the Microsoft desktop apps are involved.
With regard to scalability, you’ll need to remember that the more affordable Microsoft 365 plans (the ‘Business’ ones) currently cap the numbers of users at 300 — no such limit applies to any of the Google Workspace plans.
Pros and cons summary
Hopefully this review has helped clarify your thinking on the Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace decision! Do leave a comment below if you have any thoughts of your own on the two products, and feel free to share this comparison with others.
I’ll leave you with a summary of some pros and cons which might assist you in prioritising one of the solutions over the other.
And make sure you contact us if you are thinking of using Google Workspace or Microsoft 365 in your organisation — we can help arrange a successful setup or migration.
Pros and cons of using Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace
Reasons to pick Microsoft 365 over Google Workspace
- Most Microsoft 365 plans come with desktop versions of the Microsoft Office applications, making the product a much better fit for any organisation with clients that expect it be able to send, receive and edit MS Office files without difficulty. This is in my view by far the strongest argument for choosing 365.
- The free trial is more generous — you can use Microsoft 365 for one month for free, whereas Google Workspace offers a shorter, 14-day trial.
- The 365 apps are generally more feature-rich than the Google Workspace equivalents.
- The file storage and email storage quotas on the 365 entry level plan are much more generous than those provided by the Google Workspace entry level plan. And the inbox archive functionality ultimately provides unlimited storage space across all plans (albeit with a bit of configuration involved).
- The desktop version of Outlook provides you with an easy means to sort and group mail — Gmail doesn’t.
- The video conferencing participant limits are higher than the Google Workspace equivalents, especially where cheaper plans are concerned.
- More advanced phone call management options are available with Microsoft 365.
- More advanced functionality regarding virus protection and rights management is available with Microsoft 365 (for a price, though).
- Microsoft 365 may provide a more natural fit for businesses that are exclusively Windows-based (more apps — notably Access and Publisher — are available on the Windows-based version, along with performance monitoring tools too).
You can try Microsoft 365 for free here.
Reasons to pick Google Workspace over Microsoft 365
- Technically, Google Workspace allows you to create both Google Workspace and MS Office documents — Microsoft 365 will only let you create the latter.
- File storage: entry level plans aside, the Google plans provide more generous file storage limits than their Microsoft 365 equivalents.
- Google Workspace is very scalable — there are no limits on the number of users regardless of what plan you’re on (by contrast, the cheaper Microsoft 365 ‘Business’ plans cap the number of your users at 300).
- Google Workspace was built as collaboration-focused solution from the ground up; with Microsoft 365, collaboration features were integrated into an existing desktop-based product that has a history of being used in ‘local’ context. As such the Google Workspace collaboration features are arguably a bit stronger.
- eDiscovery, site building tools, email archiving and legal holds on inboxes (amongst other advanced features) are available for a lower cost with Google Workspace.
- The Google Workspace interfaces are clean and intuitive and, so long as a good internet connection is being used, load fast (certainly faster than Microsoft Office desktop equivalents).
- Google Workspace is a good solution for businesses that use multiple devices and operating systems.
- The fact that everything is cloud-based in Google Workspace may encourage users to use the cloud more, with all the collaboration-related benefits this brings.
- Google’s Drive Stream works with more Windows and Mac operating systems than Microsoft’s equivalent One Drive Files on Demand product.
You can try Google Workspace for free here or read more about our Google Workspace setup and migration services.
Alternatives to Microsoft 365 and G Suite
The main alternatives to Microsoft 365 and G Suite are probably Apple’s iWork suite of products and Open Office.
iWork is a nice, user-friendly set of productivity tools; as with the Google Workspace apps, you’ll encounter a more minimalistic interface than in Microsoft 365.
Like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, you can use iWork in a browser on any device and collaborate in real time with other users; desktop apps (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) are also available, but these work with Apple products only.
The good news is that these apps are free — but you will need to potentially pay for iCloud storage so that you can store your files somewhere.
Open Office is a well-known open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases. The good news is that like iWorks, it’s completely free; the less good news is that there isn’t an official ‘cloud’ version of the software.
If you are particularly keen on using Open Office though, some cloud functionality will be available to you using Rollapp, an ‘online application virtualization platform’, which — in theory at least — allows you to run any application on any device in a web browser.
The focus of Dropbox has traditionally about file storage — it was one of the first cloud-based apps that allowed you to store and access files from anywhere.
However, it has evolved a bit in recent years, and now offers some of the features you’ll find in Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.
It’s online text-editing app, Dropbox Paper, works in a similar way to Google Docs or the online version of Microsoft Word; and, thanks to an integration with Microsoft 365, you can edit Office files stored in Dropbox online.
There’s also ‘Dropbox for Google Workspace,’ which allows you to
- create and store Docs, Sheets and Slides in Dropbox alongside other traditional files.
- use Google Docs, Sheets and Slides to edit Microsoft Office file types stored in Dropbox, without having to change file formats.
- add Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to shared Dropbox folders which will then automatically inherit the same sharing permissions.
These Microsoft and Google Microsoft integrations definitely make it easier for people who’ve bought into the Dropbox platform to stick with it — but my feeling is that users who are in the market for a productivity suite for the first time would find things far more straightforward by going straight for Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace.
Any thoughts on Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365?
Got any thoughts or questions on Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365? Or on any of the alternatives? Do feel free to leave a comment below!
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