Telecommuting and flexible work-from-home policies are increasingly being adopted across businesses of all sizes, with many companies comfortable hiring full-time remote employees. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workforce report,the number of employees who worked remotely at least some of the time grew from 39 percent in 2012 to 43 percent in 2016.
As this trend continues, cloud-based business software solutions will help teams prepare to navigate the transition to more remote-friendly work processes. Google Workspace by Google and Microsoft 365 are two of the leading cloud-based business software options on the market today. These all-in-one suites provide a wide range of applications, including cloud-based file storage, business software, chat applications, and video conferencing software.
In this article, we’ll compare and contrast features available in Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, and make recommendations based on your needs and the size of your staff.
Microsoft 365 is a premier all-in-one business solution that provides cloud-based and locally hosted versions of the ever-popular Microsoft Office applications. Microsoft 365 has 120 million monthly active users, and exhibited 42 percent growth in revenue in Q3 2017, according to its earnings report. It also includes a number of other useful features for businesses, including online booking software and video conferencing.
Microsoft 365 Business Premium provides many types of business applications, including:
- Business email at your business’s custom domain through the Outlook application (desktop app also available), including up to 50 GB storage per user
- Video conferencing for up to 250 people
- Shared calendars through Outlook
- Online booking software for clients/customers through Bookings
- Chat capabilities through Yammer
- Task management software through Microsoft Planner
- Web-based + desktop versions of: Word, Excel, PowerPoint
- Desktop (locally installed) versions of: OneNote (note-taking application), Access (database management system), and Publisher (publishing tool to create newsletters/brochures/etc.). Desktop applications allow users to install across 5 devices.
- Sharepoint enables teams to access common files and create internal business sites without programming knowledge
- 1 TB cloud-based file storage per user with OneDrive
Microsoft 365 provides web-based versions of the commonly used Office applications that many businesses are familiar with. Many users that are already accustomed to using desktop versions of Outlook, Word, Powerpoint, and Excel will find it easy to transition to Microsoft 365, since the user interface is already familiar. Because Microsoft 365 is cloud-based, users will automatically receive regular updates, instead of having to manually upgrade their on-premise software. In addition, users will be able to access their applications from their smartphones and tablets, as long as they have na Internet connection. Microsoft 365 also eliminates the time and cost associated with maintaining your own file storage solution, since it includes cloud-based storage through OneDrive.
In July 2016, Microsoft 365 expanded its suite of products to include Bookings, online booking software that enables businesses like hair salons to offer customers the option to book and manage appointments directly online. Businesses can also use Bookings to send automated appointment reminders to their clients, which may help reduce the rate of no-shows. This functionality is similar to what you may find in other well-known dedicated scheduling systems, such as MINDBODY.
Microsoft 365 has also partnered with Salesforce to develop an integration, which means that you’ll be able to seamlessly view and load Salesforce accounts, opportunities, and other assets into your applications, including Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive.
Google Workspace provides more than 5 million businesses with cloud-based productivity solutions, including email, file storage, and video conferencing. Because Google Workspace Business provides an unlimited amount of storage, and offers many of the same capabilities as Microsoft 365, it serves as an affordable and convenient way to access many of the conventional business applications that Office users are familiar with, at a slightly lower cost.
Google Workspace includes Google’s equivalent versions of Microsoft Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. Businesses with users that are accustomed to using Microsoft Office applications may initially experience some learning curve when transitioning to Google’s versions of the same applications. Businesses may also have a difficult time transferring their Microsoft Office files to Google Workspace without losing some functionality, especially if they are using macros in their applications. However, one plus is that Google Workspace integrates with Outlook, which can help ease the transition for businesses that are updating from on-premise Office applications to a cloud-based Google Workspace setup.
Google Workspace’s business applications are web-based, but users also have the option to enable offline access of specific documents if they wish. You can set offline documents to automatically sync with your cloud-based storage once you re-establish an Internet connection.
Google Workspace Business includes the following products/capabilities:
- Email at your business’s custom domain through Gmail (only web-based), with an unlimited amount of storage
- Video conferencing for up to 25 people (Hangouts Meet)
- Chat capabilities through Hangouts Chat
- Shared calendars through Google Calendar
- Office apps: Docs, Sheets, Slides
- Google Sites enables teams to access common files and create internal business sites without programming knowledge
- Unlimited file storage in the cloud (limited to 1 TB per user, if more than 5 users)
Google Workspace also recently announced a partnership with Salesforce, which includes a promotional offer for current Salesforce customers to receive up to 1 year of Google Workspace for free. This partnership essentially makes it easier to use Salesforce alongside Google Workspace products, including Docs, Sheets, Hangouts Meet, Calendar, and Drive. For example, users will be able to access their Salesforce assets during Google Hangouts Meet conversations. According to Google, the two companies are working closely to develop more integrations, which are scheduled to release in 2018.
Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365
Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 provide many of the same features, but the best option for your business will depend on which types of applications you prioritize in your workflow. If you need unlimited cloud-based file storage (and your company has at least 5 employees), Google Workspace is a more affordable option. If your team has less than 5 employees, then Google Workspace no longer holds the advantage when it comes to file storage -- both products set a limit of 1 TB per user.
At $12.50/user/month, Microsoft 365 Business Premium is slightly more expensive than Google Workspace (compared to $10/user/month), but it offers more robust video conferencing capabilities (support for up to 250 people vs. just 25 people in Google Hangouts Meet). It also holds an advantage because many users are already familiar with their applications, which means there should be little to no learning curve in transitioning from an on-premise version of Microsoft Office to the cloud-based Microsoft 365 suite. As such, it should come as little surprise that Microsoft 365 is used by 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies.
Because Microsoft 365 enables users to install PC-based versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (in addition to cloud-based versions of these and other applications), it may be a preferable option for users who already feel comfortable using installed versions of these applications. Microsoft 365 is also a preferable option for larger teams that are spread out geographically and need robust video conferencing capabilities. Whereas Google Hangouts Meet limits each meeting to 25 people on its Business plan, or 30 people on its Enterprise plan, Microsoft 365’s Skype for Business enables up to 250 people to dial in to a web conference at a time.
Microsoft 365’s suite of productivity tools also includes a few extra applications that aren’t available in Google Workspace. One such tool is Microsoft Planner, which has the potential to replace dedicated project management software like Asana or Trello.
Another such example is Bookings, which is a software application that is designed to enable businesses to give their customers the option to schedule appointments directly online, 24/7, instead of having to call or request an appointment time through email. And because Bookings is synced with Outlook Calendar, it will always show your customers the latest, most accurate availability. It also takes care of sending out automated appointment reminders, to help reduce the rate of no-shows.
However, Microsoft 365’s Outlook limits each user to 50 GB of storage space in their email inbox, as opposed to Google Workspace’s Gmail, which provides unlimited inbox storage.
In general, Google Workspace is a better, more affordable option for businesses that prioritize unlimited file storage and don’t need project management or online booking software (or already invest in other specialized solutions that fulfill those needs). If you’d like to be able to gain access to project management, chat, web conferencing, and business software applications all in one suite of products, then Microsoft 365 may be worth the extra $2.50/user per month compared to Google Workspace. Microsoft 365 may also be a good option for companies with employees who are already using Microsoft Office applications, and don’t want to deal with the learning curve of transferring their files to Google Workspace.
|Google Workspace Business||Microsoft 365 Business Premium|
|Monthly Price||$10/user||$12.50/user (annual) or $15/user (monthly)|
|Word processing||Yes (Docs, cloud-based)||Yes (Word, cloud-based and PC)|
|Spreadsheets||Yes (Sheets, cloud-based)||Yes (Excel, cloud-based and PC)|
|Presentation software||Yes (Slides, cloud-based)||Yes (PowerPoint, cloud-based and PC)|
|Note-taking app||Yes (Keep)||Yes (OneNote, PC only)|
|Business email||Yes (Gmail)||Yes (Outlook)|
|Business email storage limit||Unlimited||50 GB/user|
|Chat||Yes (Hangouts)||Yes (Yammer)|
|Video conferencing||Yes (Hangouts)||Yes (Teams)|
|Video conferencing limit||Up to 25 people||Up to 250 people|
|File storage limit||Unlimited for >=5 users; 1 TB/user for more than 5 users||1 TB/user|
|24/7 email and phone support||Yes||Yes|
|Team websites||Yes (Sites)||Yes (SharePoint)|
|Task management software||No||Yes (Planner)|
|Online booking software for customers||No||Yes (Bookings)|
|Guaranteed uptime (service-level agreement)||99.9%||99.9%|
Business software suites like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace provide businesses with solutions that help improve collaboration and increase productivity, whether teams are located in the same office or in disparate locations around the world. When deciding which option is better for your business, you’ll need to weigh in several factors, including the size of your company and the types of applications you prioritize in your workflow.
If your team is currently using an on-premise version of Microsoft Office, and you’re contemplating a move to a cloud-based solution, Microsoft 365 is a natural fit, because you’ll be able to transfer files without any issues. Your staff will also be less likely to experience a learning curve, since they will already be familiar with the user interface of Microsoft 365’s business applications. Microsoft 365 is also a better option for larger businesses that need to host web conferences that include a large number of employees or participants.
However, if you anticipate that your business will need unlimited file storage, and your employees are comfortable with using Google’s suite of business applications, Google Workspace can be an attractive option that provides all the capabilities you need, at a more affordable price. Regardless of whether you decide to invest in Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace, transitioning to a cloud-based business software solution will enable your team to increase productivity and collaborate more efficiently.