G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 are the two major suites of business productivity applications currently on the market. The best known applications within these suites are for email, calendar, documents, spreadsheets, presentations and online storage.
Google and Microsoft continue to add their own flavors of additional components to their respective suites. For example, G Suite includes Forms, Drawings and My Maps and new Google Sites. A paid extra, Google Jamboard, has been announced. Microsoft Office 365 plans variously include Sway, Yammer, Skype for Business, Office 365 Video and Microsoft Teams.
Perhaps the biggest difference between these two suites is that Office 365 is primarily marketed as a set of locally installed applications for PC and Mac, with Office Online (cloud versions of applications) offered as available functionality. On the other hand, G Suite is a set of cloud applications, with an option for working on documents, spreadsheets and presentations while offline.
The Gmail component of G Suite is an online email application — but email 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 Office 365’s primary email offering is locally installed Outlook, although there is an option to use Outlook Web.
When an organization moves to G Suite, there may be certain users who, by habit or by necessity, want or need locally installed Microsoft Office components on their PC or Mac. One example is someone who cannot let go of Outlook because its been a part of their life for ten, fifteen or more years. Another is someone who uses Excel spreadsheets with complex macros or very large Excel spreadsheets that cannot be imported into a Google Sheets format or replicated in Google Sheets. For those users, a supplemental subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Business may be required.
There are two ways to open other-than-highly-complex Excel spreadsheets in Google Drive without an Office license.
Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite Plans
Microsoft Office 365 Plans
There are seven Office 365 plans:
- Office 365 Business Essentials
- Office 365 Business
- Office 365 Business Premium
- Office 365 ProPlus
- Office 365 Enterprise E1
- Office 365 Enterprise E3
- Office 365 Enterprise E5
Office 365 Business Essentials is the one “cloud only” offering of the seven. Prices range from $5 per user per month to $35 per user per month.
G Suite Plans
There are two G Suite plans:
- G Suite Basic
- G Suite Business
The Basic plan is $5 per user per month. The Business plan, which includes additional storage and administrative options, is $10 per user per month.
Which is Best for Your Business?
We recommend taking an analytical approach to making the decision about G Suite vs. Office 365. Some questions to ask yourselves are:
What are the subscription costs of the two main options based on our needs?
How many employees grew up Google? How many employees grew up Microsoft? How many employees grew up both?
What percentage of users have a business need or even just an habitual need to have Office 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 — G Suite or Office 365?
Example Business Cases
Here are two example business cases and what direction each case might point an organization in.
- 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 Office 365 Business licenses
- 30 of the employees who grew up Google need nothing more than a Chromebook or Chromebox
- 10 employees grew up Microsoft
- 5 of the employees who grew up Microsoft insist on having or require locally installed Microsoft Office applications
On the surface, this case points more toward going Google and subscribing to five Microsoft Office 365 Business licenses for the employees who want or need Microsoft Office.
- A 50 year old company
- 200 employees
- 5 Internal IT staff
- 140 employees grew up Microsoft
- 100 of the employees who grew up Microsoft insist on having or require locally installed Microsoft Office applications
- 60 employees grew up Google
- 20 of the employees who grew up Google require locally installed Microsoft Office applications
This case may point more toward staying Microsoft and getting the users who grew up Google to adapt to using Microsoft Office.
On the other hand, either of these seemingly obvious directions could be trumped by executive management or IT leadership making a decision based on a number of other 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.
Peer to Peer Software Reviews
Gartner company Nubera shows peer to peer software reviews for G Suite and Office 365 on its GetApp site. The site implies that data is also sourced from Gartner companies Software Advice and Capterra.
As of March 29, 2017, G Suite has 1,498 reviews and a 4.55 out of 5 rating from users. Here is the full list of G Suite reviews.
Microsoft Office 365 has 94 reviews and a 4.27 out of 5 rating from users. Here is the full list of Office 365 reviews.