Microsoft and Google are locked in a colossal battle to rule business productivity. Office 365 and G Suite both provide excellent, cloud-based toolkits that can ensure your team collaborates and stays in sync. But which is the right choice for your business? Each offers distinct advantages. Here's a breakdown of both products to make the decision easier.
What you get
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, Sites for creating internal pages for your team, and various other business productivity solutions. 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 Bookings. Microsoft also just introduced some new security features for some of its small business plans, which include things like phishing protection. Microsoft introduced a new workplace analytics software called MyAnalytics where you can analyze your business's productivity. Keep in mind that some of these additions are only available in certain Office 365 plans.
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. Google recently unveiled some new updates to Docs and other G Suite programs. Docs now has advanced grammar tracking, so you won't miss errors ranging from a, an usage to properly using subordinate clauses. This change accompanied a few others from Google, including smart replies in Hangouts chat and some enhanced G Suite security features.
On the other hand, Office 365 now has functioning web versions of all its applications, plus 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. 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 with Microsoft's products. 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 smooth as Google Docs.
What to watch
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 Yammer or HD video conferencing through Skype. All Microsoft plan holders will have access to teams, as the company recently announced it would be offering a free version.
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, then get to work.