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Grow Your Business Technology

G Suite vs. Office 365: Which Is Best for Your Business?

Credit: Stokkete/Shutterstock

Microsoft and Google are locked in a colossal battle to rule your business productivity. Office 365 and G Suite both are excellent, cloud-based toolkits that can ensure your team collaborates and stays in sync.

But unless you're drowning in cash or just like redundancy, you only need one. Which is the right choice? Each offers distinct advantages. Here's a breakdown of both products to make the decision easier.

Both G Suite and Office 365 have a lot of overlap. The core suite of apps is essentially the same: email (Gmail vs. Outlook), word processing (Docs vs. Word), spreadsheets (Sheets vs. Excel) and slideshows (Slides vs. PowerPoint).

G Suite throws in some additional options, like the popular Forms for soliciting feedback online and Sites for creating internal pages for your team. The real driver behind most of Google's products here is collaboration – the ability for team members to work simultaneously on a Google Doc, Sheet or Slide is still best in class.

With Office 365, you get a lot of software with the bundle beyond the traditional Word, Excel and PowerPoint. There are multiple payment tiers, and all but the most basic service package gives you the core Office suite and additional software, such as Microsoft Teams, Yammer or Microsoft Bookings.

G Suite, like most of Google's products, integrates well with the web. Your work in Docs and other services will function best in the Chrome browser, which means that you can get work done from any PC or Mac. If your company is considering deploying Chromebooks, it's an even easier setup. The company also continuously updates its mobile apps, and they're consistent across iOS and Android, even though the latter is Google's own platform.

On the other hand, all that Office software has its advantages. Microsoft has done an admirable job of bringing about rapid updates that work well offline and can handle some more demanding tasks than G Suite, although the gap has narrowed considerably. Office also has more robust mobile apps, so give this some thought if some team members do lots of work from mobile devices or have ditched laptops for iPad Pros. The company's new "work on any device" ethos means you don't ever have to touch Windows to get a good Office experience.

Collaboration is more of a challenge. Even though Word does offer Google Docs-like collaboration features, work must take place through OneDrive, and sometimes changes must be manually synced. It's a good effort, but still not quite as buttery-smooth as Google Docs.

Both Microsoft and Google are putting major efforts into artificial intelligence. You'll begin to see more of this as the technology matures. Current examples are the Explore tab in Google Docs, which pulls up relevant information from your work and the web.

Microsoft has also gone this route, with the Editor feature that makes suggestions for your writing by pinging you about frequently used works. The Research tool lets you find relevant information in the Word document. The feature continues to undergo development, and over time it may cut down on how much time you need to spend researching in the browser.

Microsoft offers several pricing tiers, ranging from $5 per month to $35 depending on your needs. Mid- and high-tier plans give you access to communication tools like Microsoft Teams, Yammer or HD video conferencing through Skype.

Google's pricing structure is a little more straightforward. Each user costs $5 per month, with the price jumping to $10 per month for additional security and storage enhancements from the Business plan. There's also an enterprise level for those with larger needs, although you'll have to contact Google for pricing.

In the end, the right choice depends on your team's needs and which best fits your workflow. Some are more familiar with a set of tools and may prefer the Microsoft or Google route given their background. Make your choice and then get to work.

Derek Walter

Derek Walter is a freelance writer in northern California. He is the author of Learning MIT App Inventor and blogs regularly about digital life at The Intersection. Follow him on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn or Google+.