Let’s examine these seven considerations:
1. lets first get started
Starting off with either solutions is relatively the same with no real clear winner. You don’t need to have a public account Outlook.com or Gmail to get started but it may influence your decision slightly. Many users will have accounts in both social email platforms, but this is where you will likely start as you examine Google Apps or Office 365. For “Google Apps for Work” the expectation is that you will be setting up a Domain to be used as a central repository and that was the same sign up process for using Apps such “Docs” from the Google Apps portal. Office 365 also had a lengthy sign up process. So really a tie here regarding getting started and signing up but maybe a slight advantage to Office 365, because of the domain registration requirement with Google Apps. Watch this 30 second promo video (Work Wonders with Office 365).
On a side note…Outlook.com vs Gmail.com
Since we are comparing Office 365 to Google Apps its only right that we do a quick comparison of Outlook.com and Google (Gmail). I will elaborate on this more in a follow up article but here we will focus on Apps, because storage and price are basically non factors. The significant entry for Google in this area is the introduction of site and site management. This moves Google closer to Outlook considering that you have separated your business from your personal accounts. If you use it for business, at some point you will outgrow the services and move into Office 365 and Google Apps. because the use of these two free email and productivity services from Microsoft and Google respectively only means that you as a user and are already familiar with applications such as Word and PowerPoint. This is usually where the advantage goes to the apps that the we are familiar with.
2. Of course let’s talk about pricing
Googles pricing approach is easier to understand then Office 365. Google Apps are priced at $5 per user per month for 30 GB of storage and a $10 version that gives you Unlimited Storage (or 1TB per user if fewer than 5 users) Learn more here: https://apps.google.com/intx/en_us/pricing.html. Office 365 has many different subscription options that are organized by Business or Home and broken out by categories such as Business Essentials, Business and Business Premium. With Microsoft you can just simply add Apps and services as you upgrade and they range between $5.00/user to 12.50/user and services can range from $5.00/user to $12.00/user for service and collaboration environments such as SharePoint Online.
3. Well, what about storage?
Not really a huge factor for this comparison. As mentioned above, Google for Work gives you 30GB for the $5 plan and if you have more than five users, you are given unlimited storage. Office 365 provides at least 1TB of storage for some its most basic plans and upgrading to higher storage plans are available with additional costs on both sides.
4. Apps, apps and more apps…
The bigger standout here is Office 365 when it comes to apps. Microsoft basically brought Microsoft Office to the cloud. The Microsoft Office suite has grown to become the industry standard for productivity with most users having worked with applications such as Word and Excel. Office 365 continues to push the productivity envelop with Apps such as Planner, Sway, Power BI, Project and many others. Not to say that Google doesn’t have its horse in the race but they are struggling to keep up with Microsoft’s core Office Online apps with Docs, Sheets, and Slides (Haydenshapes has gone Google). Ask yourself when was the last time you crunched numbers with Google’s Sheets. Don’t ever count Google out of the game however as you see more and productivity built around site management and collaboration. Microsoft also has the ability to create pages and sites with Docs.com for example that allows you build pages from your OneDrive or built on Sway. Look for a future post on an overview of Sway.
Microsoft also continues to make improves with its Skype and Skype for Business communication platforms along with Lync.
The Google platform has many Website optimization and Search utilities that Microsoft does not provide. The Google advertising platform is not a part of Google Apps, but worth mentioning because of the powerful Search and advertising services that Google provides. Microsoft Bing allows you to import Google Analytics data into its platform and that is certainly a plus.
5. Tell me about document management
In the Google camp, Google is a clear winner for document management in terms of Document storage and retrieval, but they both have these capabilities. They also support Site Management which helps with document management. In both cases the tools are even and more of a personal choice related to person, group or team that is sharing and controlling the information. Google Apps and Office 365 are simply the environments being used to distribute and share. Office 365 “built-in” Office integration with the ability to edit online with familiar applications is a huge plus in this department.
6. Communication is a must
Communication in this context has to do with real-time communication tools built directly into the productivity applications. Again, Office 365 and Skype for Business make communicating on documents and knowing when team members are logged in and available is a clear winner. Hangouts are Googles attempt at real time collaboration, but still playing a little catch up. I will be posting a follow up to elaborate on Skype for Business and Google Hangouts.
7. How about support and training
Both sides have support and training in place. Google has its Apps Learning Center that includes tutorials with step by step guidance that are easy to follow to get you started with Google Apps many applications. Microsoft has scenario-based training under the Office Training Center. There are multiple videos and step by step guides from both providers. Many of videos are relatively short but very useful and easy to find.
What can we conclude?
I see strengths in both offerings but the clear edge goes to Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Office 365, but with Alphabet Inc’s. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Apps providing equally powerful and accessible apps coming online. It really comes down to personal preference and where you have been working and collaborating up to this point.