Office 365 vs G Suite (or, as it used to be known, Google Apps)…which is better? This is a question that many businesses, particularly startups, have a lot of trouble answering.
So, in this post I’m going to try to help you decide which is best for your business, by putting the two product suites head to head in a detailed comparison review.
Read on to see how G Suite and Office 365 fare against each other in the key areas of pricing, features and ease-of use. We’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.
If you find the review useful, I’d be really grateful if you could share it, or leave a comment — it’s always really helpful to get other people’s opinions on the apps we review. And finally remember that we now offer setup and migration services for both Office 365 and G Suite: do contact us if you need help with either.
Right, so what do Office and G Suite actually do?
Office 365 and G Suite are a suite of productivity tools that let you perform common business tasks ‘in the cloud’. Office 365 also provides a comprehensive range of desktop applications — programs that you install on your computer as opposed to using in a web browser.
Both Office 365 and G Suite allow you to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations and collaborate with team members whilst doing so; they also provide video conferencing functionality and cloud storage.
(In case you’re not familiar with what cloud storage is, it basically entails storing your files remotely — for example on Google’s or Microsoft’s servers — instead of on your own computer. This can free up space on your hard drive and make real-time collaboration on documents easier).
Choosing a G Suite plan is fairly straightforward, as there are only three plans available:
- Basic: $5 per user per month
- Business: $10 per user per month
- Enterprise: $25 per user per month
On the ‘Basic’ $5 plan, you get
- Business email addresses (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Video and voice calls (via Google Hangouts)
- Secure instant messaging via Hangouts Chat
- Shared online calendars
- Online documents, spreadsheets and presentations
- 30 GB of online storage for file syncing and sharing
- Google sites (a tool for building simple websites or intranets)
- Security and admin controls
- 24/7 phone, email and chat support.
On the ‘Business’ $10 plan, in addition to the above you get
- Unlimited file storage (or 1 TB if your organisation has less than 5 users)
- ‘Low code’ tools (these allow you to develop bespoke apps for your business without resorting to a lot of programming)
- Advanced search functionality using Google’s new Cloud Search technology (this functionality makes it easier to locate files within G Suite and also provides an experience which makes suggestions regarding what your team need to do next)
- Email archives / message-retention policies
- The ability to specify which region your G suite data is stored in (USA,Canada, Europe, etc.)
- eDiscovery covering emails, chats, docs and files
- Audit and reporting insights for Drive content and sharing
On the ‘Enterprise’ $25 plan, you get all the features of the ‘Basic’ and ‘Business’ plans plus
- advanced admin and security controls / reporting
- data loss prevention for files and email
- integration with third-party archiving tools
- S/MIME for Gmail (improved encryption for emails)
- additional reporting on email usage via analytics tool BigQuery
Unlike the free version of G Suite, none of the above plans involve the display of advertising content while you work.
For many users, the most significant difference between these plans will involve file storage. With the G Suite ‘Basic’ plan, users are restricted to 30GB of file storage; but – as long as there are 5 or more G Suite users in your organisation – there are no limits on the ‘Business’ plan (if you have a ‘Business’ plan but have less than 5 users on it, file storage is restricted to 1TB per user).
It’s important to note that Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drawings, — i.e. documents created using Google’s set of apps rather than third party applications — don’t count toward your G Suite file storage limit. Nor do files shared with you by other Google Drive users.
Power users and big organisations are likely to find the e-Discovery features that the ‘Business’ and ‘Enterprise’ plans come with handy: these lets you archive all communications in your organisation according to rules you define. This functionality may be useful if for legal reasons you need to store an extensive communications history, and dig up old emails sent to or from your team.
If you have strong data loss prevention requirements — i.e. you want to use G Suite to try to prevent your users transferring sensitive information outside of your organisation via email or through moving files — then you will need to plump for the ‘Enterprise’ plan.
Microsoft Office 365 pricing
The pricing options for Office 365 are more complicated, because there are home, business, enterprise and education versions available — and within that, a whole load of sub-versions.
There are two ways to look at this plethora of pricing options: on the plus side, there’s a lot of flexibility, but on the down side, 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 ‘Business’ and ‘Enterprise’ plans, which are:
- Business Essentials — $5 per user per month
- Business — $8.25 per user per month
- Business Premium — $12.50 per user per month
- Enterprise E1 — $8 per user per month
- Enterprise ProPlus — $12 per user per month
- Enterprise E3 — $20 per user per month
- Enterprise E5 — $35 per user per month
As touched on above, there are a LOT of different options to get your head around with the above 7 plans, but a few important things to note are as follows:
- All Office 365 plans require an annual commitment. (By contrast, the G Suite plans can be bought on a per-month basis, which may suit some organisations — those with regular changes in the number of staff — slightly better.)
- The ‘Business’ plans all limit the maximum number of users to 300; by contrast, you can have an unlimited number of users on the ‘Enterprise’ plans.
- All plans provide you with with the desktop versions of the Microsoft Office product suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc.) except for the ‘Business Essentials’ and ‘Enterprise E1’ plans, which only provide the online ones. So if a key motivation behind choosing Office 365 is to avail of the desktop apps as well as the cloud features — a big advantage of using Office 365 over G Suite — make sure you avoid those particular plans.
- Not all of the Office 365 plans provide users with an email account — if you want to use Office 365 as your email service provider, you’ll need to steer clear of the ‘Business’ and the ‘Enterprise Pro Plus’ plans.
- Similarly, the ‘Business’ and ‘Enterprise ProPlus’ plans don’t feature calendar functionality.
- Microsoft’s new video collaboration service — ‘Microsoft Stream’ — is only available on the Enterprise plans.
So which is cheaper, Office 365 or G Suite?
So which works out cheaper in the Office 365 vs G Suite fight?
The most directly comparable G Suite and Office 365 plans are arguably
- the G Suite ‘Basic’ ($5 per user per month) and Office 365 ‘Business Essentials’ ($5 per user per month) plans
- the G Suite ‘Business’ ($10 per user per month) and Office 365 ‘Enterprise E3’ ($20 per user per month) plans.
In essence there is no saving to be made at the lower end of the pricing bands by plumping for the G Suite ‘Basic’ plan over Microsoft’s ‘‘Business Essentials’ (although you will need to bear in mind that the Microsoft product requires an annual commitment); but at the more ‘enterprise’ level, the Office 365 ‘Enterprise E1’ plan comes in at $10 higher per month than the G Suite ‘Business’ plan (and again, you’ll have to pay upfront for the year for the Microsoft product too).
This doesn’t really tell the full story however, because there are a lot of variables and potential tradeoffs at play here.
Although the above plans are broadly comparable, there are still big differences in important areas such as email storage, file storage and archiving to consider; so coming up with an answer to the ‘which is cheaper, Google Apps vs Office 365’ question is probably best answered by taking a more in-depth look at the features of each product and seeing how well they fulfil your business needs.
Let’s drill down into these features.
WHILE YOU’RE HERE:
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