O365 versus Google Apps



Office 365 or Google Apps—Which One’s Right for Your Business?

Both Google Apps for Business and Microsoft Office 365 continue to gain widespread popularity within many organizations. Office 365 aims to be all things to all businesses, while Google Apps is happy offering key capabilities without the complexity. Microsoft and Google each allow personal and business use of their online platform, as well as simultaneous logins to multiple accounts in different browser tabs. Beyond that, their platforms differ greatly in usability and functionality. Let’s have a look.

Function & Features
When it comes to the programs most office workers use on a daily basis, both Google Apps and Office 365 each offer fulfilling counterparts with plenty of collaborative capabilities. Below is a breakdown:

Online Storage
When it comes to storage capacity, Office 365 gives users 50GB of space in Outlook and 25GB in OneDrive. Google Apps provides 30GB of space which is spread among Gmail, Drive and Picasa. By comparison, both companies will give freebies; Google provides 15GB of drive space and Microsoft will give you 7GB. Both vendors sell additional space if needed.

Both Drive and OneDrive integrate with related products by each vendor, and each offers online document readers so you can view all kinds of files right in the browser without having to download and open them. Conversely, neither storage platform offers centralized control of document sharing.

Desktop Apps
Some Office 365 plans include desktop apps such as Word, Excel, etc. to help round off the suite, giving customers both the thick clients and the browser-based versions. Google Apps is entirely browser-based so there is no such desktop program counterpart. However, you can use Docs, Sheets and Slides offline in Chrome, although changes need to be made in the Admin Console and on the user side to permit this. You can also install an add-on for Chrome to let you work in Gmail while offline.

Spreadsheet Application
There is a perception among many that Google Sheets can’t compare to the powerful features and formulas of Microsoft Excel. For companies which live by Excel, this can be a serious consideration, especially if they rely on Excel gurus with years of training and experience (though, of course,any good professional can transfer their experience with one product to that of a similar product, so long as the options are present). However, there are still some features offered by Excel which companies might need to rely on. For instance, in-depth detailed formulas might not carry over well to Sheets. Furthermore, Google limits Sheets to 400,000 cells, compared with 17 billion in Excel.

Business Offerings
Office 365 Comes in several, several business options, not to mention the Office 365 offerings for Government, Education and Universities—all at different price points that each offer a wide scope of features and services. However, there are about six of the most common Business Options, as you can see in the table below. I’m sure you’ll notice that Google’s offerings are a bit more simplified, or limited, depending on your perspective.

Office 365 has the advantage for plenty of users who have been familiar with Word, Excel and the rest of the gang for years; there is less of a learning curve than with Google Apps if the latter represents a brand new experience. However, it’s also true that Office is notorious for being loaded with complex, unused features which can cause confusion, so the familiarity many will embrace also comes with something of a price, especially if companies are paying for advanced packages not all employees will use. By contrast, Google Apps programs are fairly easy to learn and intuitive, but may feel too awkward for those who are hard-coded to work in Office.

Both suites are actually relatively close to each other in terms of email, with Exchange Online and Gmail providing similar functionality. The web clients are obviously different—Gmail is probably a slightly better and more flexible offering overall, although Outlook’s web option is also well-designed and could help make a transition from a traditional Microsoft setup a bit smoother.

App Marketplaces
The beauty of cloud-based environments is that they can be customized depending on company needs, new advances and administrator skill sets. With that in mind, both Google and Microsoft offer add-ons through a centralized marketplace. The Microsoft Office 365 Marketplace is quite comparable to the Google Apps Marketplace and both feature professional services as well as applications you can use to enhance your platform.

In Conclusion
Google Apps is arguably a more digestible experience than Office 365, but its feature-set is also much more limited. Web versions of Office Apps like Word and Excel are less robust than desktop, but still exhibit greater polish than their Google equivalents, and have the added bonus of being able to work with Microsoft’s file formats. In addition, some Office 365 packages include the latest desktop versions of the apps for Windows and OS X, in addition to Lync and Skype for video and IM communication.

Tom Rizzo, Senior Director of Microsoft Online Services says having online tools that complement existing on-premise productivity suites is a combination that is hard to beat. All in all, Office 365 offers an experience that seems generally a bit more polished and extensive, in terms of capabilities. Organizations that want a more robust feature set, and those that can’t bear to leave the original Office apps behind will be well-served by Office 365.

May 2015

By: Terry Mott