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Google Workspace(Google Suite) vs Microsoft 365 in 2021

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Google Workspace (previously called Google Suite or Google Apps) and Microsoft 365 are the two most common services to provide email, file storage, word processing, presentation and other business collaboration tools. These two competing services are so common it’s rare to encounter a business not using one or the other in some capacity.

A common question we get is how do you pick between the two and which is better, and like most things in IT, ‘It depends’.

Email hosting only or all in for productivity?

Both these services have two common usages, they’re either used just for email hosting (with staff occasionally using one or two extra tools) or we see a full adoption of the entire set of productivity tools for file storage, collaboration etc. For the purpose of this article we’re going to be focusing on the latter use case, to get a full picture.

Why should pick Microsoft 365?

The most common reason we see Microsoft 365 being preferred is simple: the way licensing works with office software.
Microsoft is not being subtle with their move away from outright purchases of Microsoft Office, and are positioning Microsoft 365 offerings to make it exceedingly hard to justify outright purchases. They pack so much value into their Business Standard subscription offering well and above just getting access to the latest office software. At their price of $27.50 AUD (RRP at of 2020-03), you get:

  • Video conferencing, team chat and screen sharing(and control) capability’s
  • 100GB of email storage (50GB standard 50GB archive) per staff member.
  • 1000GB of personal storage for each staff member, which can be use to provide backups of their desktop, documents, pictures, via OneDrive.
  • 1000GB of shared company storage to replace a file server (you can pay for even more space)
  • All office apps including (publisher and access).
  • Concurrent editing capabilities of office files, allowing multiple staff to author documents at the same time and observe each others changes as they happen.
  • Access to portal.office.com with web versions of all office apps so staff can work even if they can’t install software or are on a shared computer.
  • Single sign-on capabilities if paired with Windows 10 Pro, meaning staff only need one username and password for Windows, and all Microsoft services.
  • External file sharing capabilities, meaning no more third party services when you need to share a file that’s tool large for email.
  • Office license activation is allowed on both a staff members work and personal computer, allowing work from home without extra licenses.

Considering to match only the Office apps would cost over $600 outright, or about $300 if you forgo publisher and access, it’s easy to see why so many businesses are now preferring 365 licensing over more traditional outright licensing.

If you currently use Microsoft Office software and you don’t see that changing any time soon, Micosoft 365 is probably best option for your company.

Why should you pick Google Workspace?

Google was first to introduce features such as concurrent document editing with multiple using winning it a strong lead early on when cloud collaboration offerings were limited. Often people are already familiar with google docs, Gmail and other google services as they use them in a personal capacity.

With google there is no software to install, everything is web based, which means you can get away with lower powered computer, even making use of affordable Chromebook (simple PCs that essentially only run a web apps and webpages). Google services and Google Chromebook have done very well in education organizations.

We tent to see clients who moved toward hosted email early on, using Google Workspace, before Microsoft had a mature competing product (Office 365). We also observe that many google workspace users tend to be less dependent on the windows eco system, using macs or tablet computers running android. While this is not a requirement, it makes sense that those more invested in Microsoft Products and windows computer would be more likely to use Microsoft 365 than those who don’t.

The closet equivalent plan to Microsoft Business Standard, would be Googles Business Standard. We don’t believe the names are a coincidence. This comes in at $16.80 AUD (As of 2021-03), so for a somewhat equivalent offering it’s quite a bit cheaper. Like Microsoft’s Business Standard this includes email hosting, video conferencing, and personal storage. It has double the amount of personal storage. It has equivalent apps to all of the Microsoft office productivity apps and is even able to convert files to the more common Microsoft Word documents so you can collaborate externally with those using Microsoft office.

If you are not currently using Microsoft Office software and are not using a Windows 10 PC, Google Workspace can provide a cost effective solution.

Our Recommendation

Over the last 2 years we’ve had a multiple new clients request our assistance migrating from Google Workspace (previous called Google Suite and Google Apps), over to Microsoft 365 for their email hosting and office licensing. Most of the time this is because they moved their email into Google’s service before Microsoft had a competing offering and they now find themselves paying for a Microsoft subscription and a google subscription. With the former only being used for Office Applications and the latter only for email, so consolidation makes sense.

With Office so ubiquitous in business, if there is any need to collaborate externally it’s a lot easier using Office and not needing to constantly convert document formats and deal with the headaches. Not only that with the huge uptick in Teams usage over the last year, we’re observing many of our clients relying on teams and OneDrive to collaborate which is easy when both companies are on 365.

For the above reasons and more, we strongly recommend Microsoft 365, due to the amazing value it can bring if utilized correctly.

That being said, if you’re not using any Microsoft Products and already are very familiar with products such as google docs. Then Google Workspace may be the best choice for you with their more affordable pricing.


Further Reading / References:

Microsoft 365 Overview | Secure, Integrated Office 365 Apps
Compare Microsoft 365 Business Plans & Pricing for SMBs
ROI Calculator (microsoft.com)
Google Workspace (Formerly G Suite): Business Collaboration Tools
Google Workspace (Formerly G Suite): Pricing Plans
Business Value Calculator | Google Workspace (workspacecalculator.withgoogle.com)

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