We’ve seen hundreds of applications and programmes come and go over our 15 years’ experience in helping small to medium-sized businesses here at Superfast IT. One of the most common questions we get asked is what is best for my business Office 365 or G Suite (formerly known as Google Apps)? Take a look at our in-depth guide as we give an unbiased view on the two services with pros and cons for each. If you have any questions after reading the guide pop them in the comments section below and we’ll be happy to help.
The Basics: What are they, and what do they do?
Both Office 365 and G Suite are pretty similar in the services they provide. Both offer document creation, E-mail, Video calling, team communication, online storage and more. G Suite is the older of the two productivity tools and recently reached its 10th birthday. Office 365 is half the age after Microsoft launched the product back in mid-2011. At first glance, they appear to do the same things similarly, carry on reading to see the most important points that separate the two services.
Pricing and Plans: Cost and services
A lot of the time the pricing can be the breaking point of a purchase. Both Google and Microsoft realise this and offer numerous different plans to help cater for all budgets. G Suite provides a much simpler pricing strategy compared to Office 365, so we’ll start with the three plans that Google offer and what they come with;
G Suite Pricing and Plans
Basic plan – £3.30 per user, per month
- Business E-mail through G-mail
- Video and voice conferencing (via Google Hangouts)
- Smart shared calendars
- Documents spreadsheets and presentations
- 24/7 Support via phone, E-mail and online
- Security and administration controls
- 30GB Cloud storage
Business plan – £6.60 per user, per month
The business plan comes with all the services listed in the basic plan and the following;
- Unlimited cloud storage (instead of the listed 30GB in the basic plan. 1TB per user if less than five users)
- Archive and set retention policies for E-mails and chats
- E-discovery for E-mails, chats and files
- Audit reports to track user activity
Enterprise plan – Contact Google for more information on pricing
The enterprise plan that is only available for purchase via contacting Google’s sales teams. The price is unique to each business and comes with all of the previously mentioned services and the following;
- Data loss prevention for Gmail and Drive
- Integrate Gmail with compliant third-party archiving tools
- Enterprise-grade access control with security key enforcement
- Gmail log analysis in Big Query
As you can see the three plans for G Suite are clearly laid out, and it’s easy to see what comes with each package. One of the key points that separate the Basic and Business plan is the file storage that you get. 30GB storage on the basic plan isn’t a lot at all especially when any stored E-mails on your Gmail account count towards that. Each plan allows an unlimited amount of users.
Questions to ask yourself if you’re considering purchasing G Suite
How much storage will each user need?
The biggest difference between Google’s ‘Basic’ and ‘Business’ plan is the amount of cloud storage you get. 30GB can be used up very quickly even if Google Docs don’t count towards the storage limit. If you need more than 30GB cloud storage per user, you can forget about the ‘Basic’ plan. With the ‘Business’ plan
Is it worth enquiring about the Enterprise plan?
In short, yes. You have nothing to lose for asking how much the Enterprise plan would cost. If prevention of data loss is important to you and your business, then the Enterprise G Suite plan would be the one for you.
Office 365 Pricing and Plans
*All costs excluding VAT for Office 365 plans
If the G Suite pricing is straightforward to follow, then Office 365 can be like reading a foreign language. There are several different plans that all come with the various features in different sizes.
For a full in-depth guide into the complicated Office 365 plans for small businesses take a look at our recent article – ‘What Office 365 should I buy for a small business?’ In that article we reviewed the following three plans which all have a maximum limit of 300 users;
- Office 365 Business Essentials – £3.80 per month, per user (annual payment) or £4.50 per month per user (monthly payment)
- Office 365 Business – £7.90 per month, per user (annual payment) or £9.60 per month, per user (monthly payment)
- Office 365 Business Premium – £9.40 per month, per user (annual payment) or £11.30 per month, per user (monthly payment)
Microsoft also offers another four plans for businesses known as their Enterprise plans. These plans allow for an unlimited amount of users, although they all come with an annual commitment.
- Office 365 Enterprise E1 – £6.00 per month, per user
- Office 365 ProPlus – £11.50 per month, per user
- Office 365 Enterprise E3 – £17.60 per month, per user
- Office 365 Enterprise E5 – £30.80 per month, per user
Questions to ask yourself if you’re considering purchasing Office 365
With seven different Office 365 plans for a business to choose from it can seem a daunting task to pick the right plan for you and your business. Take a look through the following questions to help find the right plan for you.
Do you want fully installed Office applications on your desktop, such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint?
If you answered yes to this question, you could quickly cross off the Office 365 Business Essentials and Office 365 Enterprise E1 plans. Both of these plans only come with the online version of the Office apps.
How many people are in your business and is that number set to go up or down over the next 12 months? Also, what is your budget?
If the number is anywhere near 300, then you can ignore any of the ‘Business’ plans as they only allow for a maximum of 300 users. You then have to consider the budget you’re willing to spend in purchasing Office 365. The most expensive plan is £30.80 per user, per month which is paid for annually. If you have 300 employees in your business on this plan that would be a one-off payment of £110,880 excluding VAT!
What do you get with every plan?
As previously mentioned for the business plans we recently published an in-depth guide that you can see here. If we listed everything each plan comes with it would take you days to read this guide! For a quick overview of the Enterprise plans take a look at Microsoft’s pricing guide. Just make sure you come back to finish this guide!
The main features
While pricing plays a big part in the decision process the most expensive doesn’t always mean the best. We’ve picked out five of the most important features in both Office 365 and G Suite to give an honest comparison to help you decide on which service is best for you.
On the majority of plans across Office 365 and G Suite, their main selling point is the applications they provide. An enormous amount of people are familiar with Microsoft’s applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint but may not be so familiar with Google’s versions of these applications. Take a look below as we compare applications between Office 365 and G Suite. It is worth bearing in mind that you can access the listed applications below for free via Google Docs and Office online (although Office Online doesn’t come with the full features). For the purpose of this guide, we will use the paid versions of the Office applications.
Word processing (Microsoft Word vs. Google Docs)
Microsoft Word is probably the most popular productivity application in the world. Everybody knows how it works and its ability to create in-depth and detailed documents. There’s hundreds of templates to choose from and even more editing tools.
Google Docs is for an acquired taste especially if you’re used to Microsoft Word. It comes with numerous templates but can be tricky to navigate. Once you’ve learned the menus, it stands up pretty well to its competitor. As the case for all of the Google Docs online it has fantastic shareability.
Spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets)
Much like Microsoft Word, Excel is the king of its sector. Excel can do thousands of different things, and the majority of people will never touch a lot of its features. It’s easy on the eye, and Microsoft’s brilliant toolbar makes it quick to access the features you want.
Google Sheets like Google Docs against Word is much simpler than Excel here, but for most people that’s fine. For 90% of us, spreadsheets are used for collecting data containing a couple of formulas at most. Google Sheets can easily cope with this just as well as Excel.
Slideshows (Microsoft PowerPoint vs. Google Slides)
Slideshows is probably the application with the biggest differences in quality. Microsoft PowerPoint is seen as the industry leader with hundreds of templates, easy customisation and a great look. It also comes with great options for when you’re presenting your presentation.
On the other hand, Google Slides is still a way off PowerPoint regarding what it can do. Slides can be awkward to navigate but can create you a presentation to a decent standard.
Questions to consider when it comes to applications
Are you looking to use these applications with all their features for detailed documents?
If you’re looking to use these applications on a regular basis to create detailed documents and using sophisticated features, then you should consider Office 365. If you’re looking to use these applications for basic word processing and spreadsheets, then Google G Suite will do the job.
Are you willing to change?
People changing their ways is the biggest problem that G Suite faces. For the majority of people, Microsoft application are the ones they’ve grown up with and are familiar with. Google Docs are better than they have ever been and do some things better than Microsoft. Google Docs are free so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Give it a go! You can always go back to the Microsoft applications.
E-mails and calendars
E-mails and Calendar organisation are a huge part of any business. Being able to communicate in a quick manner and see what others are up to will help businesses work more efficiently.
Office 365 E-mail (Outlook)
Office 365 comes with Outlook for E-mail which has over 400 million active users according to Microsoft. Seen as the industry leader Outlook has a broad range of features and with most Office 365 plans you will get two versions of the application (online and desktop). The online version of Outlook is a standard E-mail platform you can get by with, but for the full experience, you need the desktop version. This is where Outlook shines with an easy on the eye interface and several sorting options.
G Suite E-mail (Gmail)
Gmail is quite often seen as the cool new kid on the block. With lots of third party applications available to integrate you make Gmail a fantastic hub for numerous things. Like Outlook it has a great user interface and is easy to navigate. As to be expected with the most used search engine in the world the search functionality in Gmail is superb and is much better than Outlook. Unfortunately, there are a couple of downsides to Gmail. On the basic plan, the 30GB storage limit goes very quickly as your E-mails are included in this. The other problem is there’s no way to sort or group mail. For an average E-mail user this isn’t an issue, but when involved in a business that receives hundreds of E-mails a day this can become a Problem.
Office 365 Calendar
Integrated as part of Outlook, Office 365’s calendar does what it has to do without being spectacular. The interface like the E-mail service is easy on the eye, and different coloured calendars for different events or sectors stand out well enough from each other. Shared calendars work well and as long as you stick to the desktop version you’ll have no problems. The mobile version of Outlook’s calendar isn’t great and is a little difficult to navigate and quickly view events (more on mobile later).
G Suite Calendar
Google’s calendar a real standout application you get with G Suite. On the desktop, Google’s calendar works well and has a very user-friendly interface, much similar to Outlook. The real place where the calendar shines is on your mobile or tablet device. As a standalone application available on app stores the Google calendar app is a brilliantly interactive and has a great interface. A real plus point for G Suite if you’re constantly on the move.
Questions to ask yourself when it comes to E-mail and Calendars
Are you a heavy E-mail user?
How often are using E-mail? If you’re using it on a regular basis for in-depth E-mails with attachments and more, then the G Suite basic plan isn’t for you. Gmail is great for searching through your old E-mails, but the inability to group and sort new E-mails is a big downfall for heavy E-mail users. You’d probably be more inclined to use Outlook if you’re a regular E-mail user but you can try both for free.
How important are calendars to you?
If you answered “very” then it ‘s hard to look past G Suite due to its mobile capability. While Outlook calendars are useful, they’re not quite on the level of G Suite. Both are good enough as standalone calendars, and a lot will come down to personal preference.
Which do you like the look of more?
We can compare every little feature that each E-mail service provides but at the end of the day ease of use, and the user interface will be significant factors. Both have their pros and cons, and everyone will have a different opinion on what they like and don’t. Try out both even if you just make an account to take a look at what they offer and how they look.
There’s nothing more annoying than receiving a message telling you to delete some files because your storage has become full. We’re in 2017 we shouldn’t have to decide which document we want to keep because both are taking up too much space. As we move more into the digital age with numerous types of files such as video and audio storage space is more important than ever. So what do Office 365 and G Suite offer regarding storage?
Office 365 Storage
With every Office 365 plan, we’ve listed each user gets up to 1TB (1000GB) of storage. This is a good size for storage although if you’re working with big files, it can be quickly used up. There is an option to purchase more storage on a per user basis.
G Suite Storage
G Suite has two storage plans rather than one. On the basic plan, you will only receive 30GB which in this day and age is next to nothing. If you’re using over that then any other Google plan comes with unlimited storage! If you’re using video and audio files, take a look at G Suite’s Business or Enterprise plans.
Questions to ask yourself regarding storage?
How much storage does your average worker use?
This is pretty much the only question you need to answer for this section. If it’s over 30GB, you can rule out G Suite’s basic plan. If it’s under 1TB, then you have the choice between Office 365 and G Suite. If it’s well over this, then it may be worth going with G Suite at £6.60 per user, per month G Suite is much cheaper for more storage.
Even as little as five years ago this wouldn’t have been a potential deal breaker in the buy decision. How we can stay connected and in sync on the move has now become a major factor in our work lives. So how do the two services keep you going on the move? Let’s start with G Suite.
G Suite on Mobile
G Suite comes with several applications for your mobile including both its E-mail and calendar functions as well as document creators. The calendar app is the real standout of the bunch. The document apps (Docs, Sheets, Slides) are great for viewing files but can quickly become tricky to use when trying to edit documents especially in-depth ones. The main application that most mobile users will use is Gmail. Unfortunately, this is the biggest downfall for G Suite. While it still has the fantastic search capability, it’s massively let down by the way it displays E-mails which are stuck in the horrible conversation view.
Office 365 on Mobile
Much like G Suite Office 365’s mobile applications are good enough at presenting documents but editing becomes tricky. Following in G Suite’s footsteps Office 365’s Outlook mobile app isn’t great. The calendar function inside it is clunky and hard to get an overview of your week/month. You’ll find yourself just adding your mailbox into your built-in mail application on your phone.
Questions to consider if you want to use these products on mobile
Do you want to?
Honestly, they’re not great. These products were designed to be used on a desktop or laptop. For quickly viewing documents and E-mails they do their job. The biggest plus point across both Office 365 and G Suite is Google’s calendar application that has a great user interface.
Are there other alternatives?
Security and Support
Security and support are two of the key things you should look for when purchasing any product although more often than not both get overlooked. As you can imagine with two of the biggest companies in the world, security and support are two major factors for them to measure their success against. Both Office 365 and G Suite come with 24/7 phone and E-mail support in a variety of languages.
On the security side of things both Microsoft and Google take it very seriously. Both offer industry-leading data protection and security services. There are links below to both Microsoft’s and Google’s security policies if you want to read all the terms and conditions;
We hope that this guide has given you a clear indication about what Office 365 and G Suite provide. As we stated at the top of the guide, we’re not going to tell you which one to go for. Why? Because it’s YOUR choice. Below we’ve listed any more information we think you should know about each service and why you would be more inclined to go for that over the other;
Office 365 is in no doubt the industry leader when it comes to services like this. Although it can seem a little pricey especially for the bigger plans the wide range of applications you get trumps anything G Suite can offer;
That’s not to say that Office 365 comes with its downfalls although on a whole it’s a brilliant service. If you have under 300 users in your business, then it’s hard to look past Office 365’s Business plans. The big selling point for Microsoft though is the familiarity of their applications. Word, Excel and other applications have been used for years and have become so easy to use and navigate. Just make sure you get a plan that has the desktop installed applications if you want the full experience. 1TB of storage per user is plenty for most people but if you regularly manage big files this is something to keep an eye on.
G Suite at first found it difficult to compete with Office 365 but some of their offerings now blow Microsoft out of the water. The unlimited storage for £6.60 a month per user is a superb deal. The other big selling point is the unlimited users on every plan. Gmail’s search feature is a real standout when it comes to applications, as is the calendar mobile app. The problem for G Suite is the lack of different applications compared to Microsoft and the lack of familiarity.
The key questions to consider when it comes to Office 365 vs. G Suite
How much can you afford to spend?
Don’t go crazy. There’s plenty of affordable plans across the two services ranging from just over £3 to over £30 per user, per month! Find the right plan for you. Work out the minimum you require from the services (take a look at the questions below) and go from there. You may be surprised how much you can get for your pounds!
How many users will your plan have?
For businesses with under 300 users then you’re pretty much to take your pick of the plans (as long as you have five or more users). If you’re over 300 users, then you’re looking at the Enterprise Office 365 plans or any of the G Suite plans which offer unlimited users. Make sure you know your user limit you get on each plan before you make any commitments to either service.
How important is E-mail in your business?
Do you receive hundreds even thousands of E-mails a day? If you answered yes, your storage would soon get used up which rules out G Suite’s basic plan which only offers 30GB storage for each user. The main question regarding E-mail is which do you prefer Outlook or Gmail? Take a look at both and decide which you like the look of more.
How much storage do you need per user?
There are three tiers of storage across both Office 365 and G Suite. Work out what the majority of your users would fit into;
- 30GB and under – Any plan listed
- Between 30GB and 1TB – Any plan listed except G Suite Basic
- 1TB Plus – Either G Suite’s Business or Enterprise plans
How important is it for you to have the Microsoft applications?
For most this will be the deal breaker. Millions of use have all used the Microsoft applications for over a decade and have come to know and love them. Take a look at Google’s Docs for free online, and you may be surprised at how much they can do. The Microsoft applications are better on the whole, but you’d be surprised how much Google’s Docs have improved over the years.
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We hope this guide has helped you when it comes to picking between Office 365 and G Suite. Of course, the decision is up to you.
Have any questions about Office 365 or G Suite? Make sure you ask them in the comments below, and we’ll be sure to get back to you.