G Suite vs. Office 365: What’s The Difference?

G Suite vs. Office 365G Suite and Microsoft Office 365 are the two most popular cloud-based suites of business productivity applications on the market. Among the best known applications within these suites are 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. An included extra is Hangouts Meet.

Microsoft Office 365 plans variously include Sway, Yammer, Skype for Business, Office 365 Video and Microsoft Teams.

History & High Level Differences

Because Microsoft Office was originally launched in 1990 and G Suite was launched in 2007, the decision for many companies is whether to remain with Microsoft or switch to Google.

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.

According to Gartner, Microsoft is more popular in regulated industries. Google is more popular among companies with revenue less than $50 million.

Both G Suite and Microsoft Office For Some Users?

If an organization chooses G Suite, there may be certain users who, by habit 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 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, there could be a supplemental subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Personal.

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 three G Suite plans:

  • G Suite Basic
  • G Suite Business
  • G Suite Enterprise

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. Enterprise pricing is quoted.

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.

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 Office 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 Office 365 Business licenses for the employees who want or need Microsoft Office.

Case 2

  • A 50 year old company
  • 200 employees
  • 5 Internal IT staff
  • 140 employees grew up Microsoft
  • 100 of the employees who grew up Microsoft 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 had 1,498 reviews and a 4.55 out of 5 rating from users. Here is the full list of G Suite reviews.

As of March 29, 2017, Microsoft Office 365 had 94 reviews and a 4.27 out of 5 rating from users. Here is the full list of Office 365 reviews.

8 thoughts on “G Suite vs. Office 365: What’s The Difference?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?

  6. 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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