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Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365

Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 are the two most popular cloud-based suites of collaborative, business productivity applications on the market. Among the best-known applications within these suites are email, calendar, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and cloud storage.

Google and Microsoft continue to add their own flavors of additional components to their respective suites.

For example, Google Workspace includes Forms, Drawings, My Maps, Chat, Sites, and Google Meet. Google Jamboard and Google Voice are paid extras.

Microsoft 365 plans variously include Lists, Forms, Visio, Bookings, and Microsoft Teams.

Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are both robust video conferencing applications.

History & High Level Differences

The original Microsoft Office was launched in 1990. Google Workspace (formerly Google Apps for Business) was launched in 2007. The decision for many companies that were established before 2007 is whether to remain with Microsoft or switch to Google.

Perhaps the biggest difference between these two suites is that Microsoft 365 is mainly used as a set of locally installed applications for PC and Mac. The cloud versions of Microsoft’s office applications are adaptations of desktop versions.

On the other hand, Google Workspace, which was born in the cloud, is a set of cloud applications that have an option for working offline on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Google constantly adds new features to Workspace apps.

The Gmail component of Google Workspace is an online email application. For offline access, Google developed a native Chrome capability.

Gmail can also be accessed via locally installed email clients such as Outlook, eM Client (for Windows users), Kiwi for Gmail (for Mac users) and OS X’s Mail app. Microsoft 365’s primary email offering is locally installed Outlook. There is an option to use Outlook Web, which more and more users are taking advantage of.

Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace: Business Types

According to Gartner, Microsoft is more popular in regulated industries.

Google Workspace enjoys its greatest popularity among companies with revenues of less than $50 million. Enterprises have been slow to adopt Google Workspace. Microsoft continues to dominate in large organizations.

Marketing agencies tend to adopt Google Workspace, as Google is a predominant part of online marketing. Software startups also seem to favor Google Workspace.

Redlining Microsoft Word documents is something that is deeply ingrained in the legal profession. Law firms tend to be Microsoft 365 users.

On the west coast of the United States, there is a home-field advantage of sorts. Google has more relative adoption in California. Microsoft has more relative adoption in the Pacific Northwest.

Both Google Workspace and Microsoft Office For Some Users?

If an organization chooses Google Workspace, there may be certain users who, by preference or by necessity, want locally installed Microsoft Office components on their PC or Mac.

One example is someone who wants to keep Outlook because it has been a part of their work-life for ten-plus years.

Another example is someone who uses Excel spreadsheets with complex macros or very large Excel files that cannot be imported into a Google Sheets format or replicated in Google Sheets. For those users, there could be a supplemental subscription to Microsoft 365 Personal.

For lighter spreadsheet use, there are two ways to open Excel spreadsheets in Google Drive without a Microsoft Excel license.

Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace Plans

Microsoft 365 Plans

There are a number of SMB and enterprise Office 365 plans:

  • Microsoft 365 Business Basic
  • Microsoft 365 Business Standard
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium
  • Office 365 E1
  • Office 365 E3
  • Office 365 E5
  • Microsoft 365 E3

Microsoft 365 Business Basic is the “cloud-only” offering. Pricing for Microsoft 365 & Office 365 ranges from $5 per user per month to $32 per user per month. On March 1, 2022, Microsoft raised its prices for the first time in a decade.

Google Workspace Plans

There are four Google Workspace plans:

  • Business Starter
  • Business Standard
  • Business Plus
  • Enterprise

The Business Starter plan is $6 per user per month. The Business Standard plan, which includes additional storage and administrative options, is $12 per user per month. Enterprise pricing is quoted by a Google salesperson.

Which is Best for Your Business?

We recommend taking an analytical approach to make the decision about Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365. Some questions to ask yourself are:

What are the subscription costs of the two main options based on our needs?

How many of our employees grew up Google? How many employees grew up Microsoft? How many employees grew up both?

What percentage of our users have a business need or even just a force-of-habit need to have Microsoft 365 applications installed on their PC or Mac?

What are the costs involved in supporting and maintaining desktop software and are these costs of significance?

Are we firmly committed to converting to the cloud, or do we want to ease into the cloud?

If we are firmly committed to the cloud, which solution has what we believe to be a functionally superior set of web and mobile applications — Google Workspace or Microsoft 365?

Example Business Cases

Here are two example business cases and what direction each case might point an organization in.

Case 1

  • A 5 year old company
  • Outsourced IT services
  • 50 employees
  • 40 employees grew up Google
  • 5 of the employees who grew up Google require locally installed Microsoft 365 Business licenses
  • 30 of the employees who grew up Google need nothing more than a Chromebook
  • 10 employees grew up Microsoft
  • 5 of the employees who grew up Microsoft require locally installed Microsoft Office applications

On the surface, this case points more toward going Google and subscribing to five Microsoft 365 Business licenses for the employees who want or need Microsoft Office.

Case 2

  • A 50 year old company
  • 200 employees
  • 4 Internal IT staff
  • 150 employees grew up with Microsoft
  • 100 of the employees who grew up Microsoft require locally installed Microsoft Office applications
  • 50 employees grew up with Google
  • 10 of the employees who grew up with Google require locally installed Microsoft Office applications

This case may point more toward staying with Microsoft and getting the users who grew up Google to adapt to using Microsoft Office.

On the other hand, executive management or IT leadership may choose a direction that’s based on an entirely different set of factors.

A thorough analysis, which should include interviews with stakeholders and representative end-users, will help you to determine the best long-term direction for your business.

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11 thoughts on “Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365”

  1. I understand the thought about “What tool someone grew up in”, but that can’t be a deciding factor. It is important, but shouldn’t be a main factor. The main factor is how your organization is structured. Is it a static organization of say 10 people at a marketing firm, or law firm, or a business with a plan and potential for growth from 10-100 people with silo departments (accounting, HR, Executive, Operations) or greater? I grew up with tape cassettes, then CDs, now streaming, people adapt… People must adapt to the organization structure, the organization can’t always adapt to the individual and not all tools are equal when it comes to organizational maturity, structure and collaboration. G-Suite is fine for the average small static business, but there is no structure built-in for it to scale to an actual enterprise, where regulations, compliance, organizational structure and security are critical. There is a market for these tools, one just needs to understand which market they are in. O365 works for both markets SMB and enterprise, G-suite will not.

  2. Please check your facts. For example the outcom of g suite(before Google Apps) did release a business version half a year before Microsoft Office 365. Before that Google Apps was available for free. I guess the rest of this article is unreliable too.

  3. Shaun – I think you’re asking about Split Domain Routing. Unfortunately, we don’t have any experience with this, but there are a number of sites that explain the process and that you can find with this keyword.

  4. Our company is 8 year old with 200 employees. I want to use the common domain email id for everybody which is hosted on the Third party cloud server, and I want a hybrid solution between Office 365 & G Suite. Office 365 I want to give it to the Field staff and GSuite to backend internal support teams. Is it possible? If yes, what the is the strategy for implementation.

    • Why would you want to split the most critical or most utilized communication service (email) between to distinctly different services (G-Suite / MSO365)? The functionality is completely different, the management and security are different. You may save a few dimes in subscriptions, but spend more dollars in management, user frustration and functionality. Standardization is key to maintaining your management costs, and user frustration and efficiencies. Just because you “might” be able to do something, doesn’t mean you should… I can’t see any situation where that would make sense. Especially for 200 users.

  5. Ricky – If you want to move away from the desktop and toward the cloud, G Suite has the edge as a cloud app since it was born in the cloud. You could always get Word/Excel upgrades in the future for any employees who trade redlined Word documents and macro-powered Excel spreadsheets with people at Microsoft shops.

  6. Our company is small with 8 employees and 10 emails. We only use Microsoft word and excel. We are interested in switching over from Microsoft to G Suite for remote access, document sharing, email sync (when email edits are made on phone it syncs with PC, tablets, etc… preventing double work). Instead of switching over to G Suite, should we look into Office 365 as an upgrade per say?

  7. Hey, we are a small company of 25 employees. We want to move to GSuite from office365 and I cannot believe how hard it is. We cannot get the data to migrate, I have had the gsuite migration specialist help but it just hasn’t worked. Any suggestions to make this an easy transition?


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