Office 365 and Google Workspace Comparison

A full comparison of the approach that Google and Microsoft take to their two productivity suites and how many organisations decide between the two solutions. We have evaluated them under the following headings:

– Approach

– Ease of Use

– Collaboration

– Security

– Pricing

– Wrap Up

Below is a transcription of the video:


This week, I want to talk about the comparison between Office 365 and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) What I want to talk about rather than doing a kind of feature for feature comparison because there are lots of those out there and in my research for this particular video, I did come across a lot of those and I will link to them below because some of them were excellent. For those of you who are looking for very detailed kind of feature for feature and a comparison. A lot of them were kind of blog posts and things like that where they had a feature comparison lists or charts, and they were quite useful.

Now, I personally feel that most organisations don’t tend to choose at Google Workspace or Office 365 based on one or two particular features. In some cases, that might be true, but more likely, it’s the approach that each organisation takes, that Google or Microsoft take to their productivity suites that will sort of be the reason that has pushed someone to go one or the other.

I’m going to be talking about it really from that sort of approach point of view on just under a couple of different topics or headings. As I said, I won’t be diving into a detailed feature for feature comparison because I think that’s already been done, and it’s kind of out there. It’s more talking about the common areas that are discussed with our customers when they’re deciding between Office 365 and Google Workspace. That’s really the core of that.

Let’s dive into it. The first area I wanted to talk about is the approach. The approach of both companies to their productivity suites and their email and communication tools is very, very different. As we know, Microsoft is coming from their own traditional software background. They’re trying to build upon the success of their Office applications. They probably have one of, if not the most successful Office application in the world in terms of the number of users that they have on that.

They’re trying to build upon that success. The Microsoft Office, Word, Excel, PowerPoint solution is really at the core of the value that they’re trying to push forward. It’s quite interesting because Microsoft has packaged the Word, Excel and PowerPoint tools into a lot of their Office 365 pricing packages. That’s something that they started to do when they rolled out Office 365.

I think for Microsoft, it’s been a big change for them because they’re having to change how they bill customers. They’re used to billing them in a very different way traditionally five or 10 years ago. Now, they’re moving to this subscription model. They have that traditional business in place.

Google didn’t. Its approach is web-only, is browser-centric. Each sort of has its pros and cons. A common misconception with Google is that there aren’t things like offline access, which really isn’t true anymore. It might’ve been the case five or 10 years ago when the product launched. But now, you can have offline access to email and calendar and documents within Google Drive simply by using Google Chrome.

Those types of limitations that used to exist are beginning to go away. That’s kind of the approach of both organisations. One is coming from a traditional background and is kind of dealing with the drag or the lag from the traditional business. The other is kind of coming out of a greenfield clean over the last 10 years. That comes with its challenges as well in terms of having to build up things like security and enterprise great controls. It’s taken Google the guts of 10 years to build up those feature sets that IT admins have been familiar with.

Ease of Use

The second area I want to talk about was ease of use. Within the ease of use, I think it’s quite interesting because, often, people will say, “The best technologies are the ones that kind of get out of the way,” that we almost don’t realise we’re using a piece of technology on it and that it’s the enabler.

I think that sort of ease of use for an end-user if you can kind of give the device to a child, like an iPhone, and they’ll figure it out then it doesn’t require very much training. Then the ease of use is there.

With Google, Google really works hard to make their products very, very simple and very, very easy to use. That’s definitely a huge benefit. When you look at tools like Google Hangouts, getting into a video call in a Google Hangout, you click a link and it loads in the browser, you’re in the video call. Comparing that to products like Skype or Microsoft’s previous one link. There’s a lot of downloads and updates and things like that and people will be familiar with that frustration on that lack of ease of use.

Now in fairness to Microsoft as a comparison, there’s a huge familiarity with their products. That’s where they went out that users have been using Microsoft Outlook or Word or PowerPoint within their businesses for decades. Although there may not necessarily be the ease of use within the product, there is a huge amount of familiarity.

Now Google does have some familiarity with its products because people use them as consumers if they use Gmail accounts. What we tend to find is people will have used Gmail and they may have used drive or some of the other products, but not necessarily. Also, the big challenge I’m going to talk about this to wrap up at the end, people don’t necessarily feel that they can use Gmail for business or for work or there’s this sort of, well, I use that as my consumer email, but I don’t see how I would use that for business. That can be a challenge as well with within the sort of ease of use and the familiarity piece.


Next, we have collaboration. I think in this area, this is really where Google jumps ahead or where it went out because it is built from the ground up to be a collaborative product from Hangouts to Google docs and sheets and slides. If you want to create a document or a presentation or a spreadsheet together with a group of people, whether they’re in the same location or spread throughout the world, there is really no better product than Google drive and its associating productivity tools.

I think most of you who’ve experienced that sort of live collaboration will understand that. Even customers who are big Microsoft heavy users that have come across will say to me often, “We’ll create it in Google slides or we’ll create it and Google docs.” Then one person will download it at the end and sort of finish it off in Word or Excel or PowerPoint.

I think that that’s quite interesting that you’ve got organisations that are big Microsoft users but they’re still in the back end using products like Google Drive to get their collaborative toolset, which I think is quite interesting. I’ll be talking again later on just about how Microsoft and Google are accepting that a little bit and separating out some of their products.

I think it would be unfair of me not to mention Microsoft teams when talking about innovation and collaboration within the Office space. I think this comes back to the approach of the two organisations that we were talking about earlier. Microsoft has obviously come from a very traditional background. They’ve got a huge amount of tools and apps that people already use. That has hampered them a little bit because they can’t really make massive changes to the toolset or what’s going to happen is their users are going to become frustrated or upset or angry that they’ve made this huge change.

What they’ve done which is quite clever, they’ve brought out this other product called Microsoft teams and that appears to be from what I’ve seen, they’re kind of innovation hub. They’re saying, “Okay, this is great. This is where we can make huge changes and huge innovations within the collaboration sort of space.” I’ve seen some of the demos of the new versions of teams. It does look extremely impressive with live collaboration and some interesting video conferencing solutions, and things like that. I think it will be interesting to see where Microsoft go with that solution. I think that’s their answer to try to compete with Google in the collaboration sort of space. I’m interested to see where Microsoft go with that and how Google respond to it as well.


The next area is security. I’m really bringing this one up because we often hear from customers this idea or this feeling that Google is not a secure product. Nowadays, as I said, Google had been doing this for more than 10 years in terms of the Google Workspace product and the Google programme. It’s just not true. But, equally, it isn’t true to say that Microsoft is not secure. I think that it’s very, very close at this stage. It’s Android and iPhone. It’s a Mercedes and BMW. It’s very close in terms of the comparison of the two products, I think there are certain arguments in certain areas that you could make that Google is more secure. There are other areas where someone could argue that Microsoft is more secure.

In terms of the toolset and both have things like two-factor authentication, DLP capabilities and enterprise-level controls for IT admins and end-users phishing, spam filtering, things like that.


The last piece I wanted to talk about before my wrap-up was pricing. Google really keep the pricing simple. They’ve got three pricing structures. They’ve got cheap basic Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) Business and Google Workspace Enterprise. They keep it really, really simple in terms of pricing. With Microsoft, they’re known for this. I know even Microsoft resellers and partners who I’ve worked within the past are frustrated by Microsoft’s complex pricing because it really lets them down. I think they could simplify their product offering and probably gain more customers because if customers could just go to the site and know these are the three prices, three or four pricing tiers and this is what I’m getting, I just think it will make that decision much easier.

Now, they have, in fairness to them, worked to simplify this over the last few years, but it’s still nowhere near the simpler pricing of these other SaaS software vendors that people are familiar with. Most people when they go to SaaS product, now they expect about three or four prices. Three is the kind of common one. Microsoft has multiple pricing tiers. It just makes deciding what version you need complex. I think one of the biggest challenges and actually the link to the guys from Price Intelligently … Yup. did a fantastic breakdown on this which was excellent. I won’t attempt to go into the detail that they did. I just recommend watching that video if you want to compare the pricing of the two products. It just goes into a huge amount of detail.

One of the interesting things that they were talking about was customers are often frustrated with Microsoft that they’re paying or they feel they’re paying for products that they are not using. Because stuff is packaged together so much and there’s so many different pricing tiers, often, customers can feel like they’re losing out. We’ll often see that within the Google world that people will use more of the product.

If they’re going Google, there’s a huge push to go Google and a push to use as much of the product as they can. Whereas within the Microsoft world, sometimes people would just be buying it because that lack of change lack of a want to change. As a consequence, they’re sticking with the status quo. They’re still just using it for an email and calendar on maybe they’re not leveraging a lot of the other tools.

Very often, we’ll find that customers will buy Office 365 for mailing calendar, but you’ll also see them using things like Zoom or Google Hangouts or other products to fulfil what is actually technically being fulfilled within the Office 365. But customers feel that maybe those tools aren’t fulfilling their needs or, as I said, they’re paying for them, but not getting the use out of them that they would like. That leads into too some of my wrap-up where one thing that we’ve noticed with both Google and Microsoft that I think there’s an acceptance thus among vendors now that customers are buying in many cases to sort of best of breed.

You’ll see customers using Google Workspace and buying Zoom instead of using Hangouts or you’ll see customers buying Office 365 and, very interestingly, Google for the very first time broke out one of their products that you can purchase on its own called Drive Enterprise last year. Drive Enterprise allows you to purchase Google Drive and all sort of Enterprise tools that you need, vault and things like that separate from all of the other tools.

That’s the first time Google has done that. I think, again, that’s an acceptance that you may have an organisation that likes using Outlook and the calendar solutions, but once that collaborative technology that Google has, but they don’t necessarily want to pay for the full package. Drive Enterprise allows organisations like that to do that. We’ve seen that within the pricing structures that both Google and Microsoft that there’s a little bit of acceptance that you can just buy an email solution from Microsoft and you can buy your Drive collaboration solution from Google.

Those companies don’t lose out those customers because those customers will be buying Dropbox or Box or some other collaborative solution. Google is saying, “Well if you just want to use us for Drive, that’s okay.” I think that that’s an interesting shift in how they’re thinking about their own products on their own approach to the marketplace as well, which is good.

Wrap Up

In my kind of wrap-up, it’s really around just thinking about what organisations tend to choose Google Workspace or tend to choose Office 365. Often, we’ll have discussions with customers around change management. Generally, companies that are looking to move to Google Workspace, there’s often some other large transformational change that’s happening within the organisation because it is a big change to move to Google Workspace. Often, if you’re coming from an Outlook, Excel, Word, Microsoft background or more traditional software, it is going to be a change for your users.

There is going to need to be that leadership within the organisation that will sponsor the project and drive the change. Again, that leads back to the familiarity. You can move to the cloud from Exchange Office 365 and not require that kind of change. Now as a consequence, that means that the benefits that companies may leverage from Office 365 may not be as large. It’s not to say that you can’t leverage transformational change from Office 365, but it is more difficult because of that ease of use piece that we were talking about.

Actually because of the familiarity, because people are just familiar with it, it will take a lot to change people’s habits and processes and workflows. If people are given something that’s kind of similar to what they had before, they’re much more likely to just stick to that same pattern whereas if you’re bringing in Google Workspace there, the whole marketing message internally is this is a transformational change.

There’s going to be much more effort put into changing the workflow as we do things like business transformation labs. If you watch our channel, we’ll know I’ve talked about before and a link to that. We would run those as part of a deployment or a migration to make sure that people are looking at these outdated processes on and changing them and mapping them over to Google and really just getting the benefit of this Cloud-based transformational product that they’re bringing into their business.

I with the Microsoft world where we sort of see companies and not moving to Google Workspace or choosing a Outlook is very often where you have a situation that there’s a very embedded process may be around Outlook or some other Microsoft product if I was to look at the types of companies as well.

Again, you hear this sort of myth within the ecosystem that Google Workspace is for smaller businesses and Microsoft or Office 365 is for larger companies. I don’t believe that that’s true at all. We have customers with thousands and thousands of employees that use Google of their own examples of massive organisations. But I think there is definitely a profile of an organisation. We would try to sort of profile a company.

If you were talking to the obvious example would be a tech business. They’re more than likely going to be using a Google Workspace, but if you take it outside of that, you’ve got companies that are fast-paced, that have a lot of young staff. There’s a huge amount of attraction. Google has gotten within the education space. You’ve got people coming from colleges who’ve been using Google Workspace for education for a huge amount of their education career.

They are familiar with that. That’s what they’re looking for when they move into a business as well. But you’ve also got things like … I’m just checking my notes. Also, you’ve got companies who are looking to be more collaborative, open to innovation, and as I said, are sort of looking for that transformational change. When we find those types of organisations and they can be in any industry, I mentioned the tech industry, but Google’s success in manufacturing, retail, a huge amount of industry to go to a lot of creative companies. Anyone in sort of the digital space and news and media. Again, big sort of success areas.

But taking it out of that for a minute, if you were just to sort of look at … because you could get very traditional businesses that are looking for that transformational change and so they’re looking for a rapid innovative, collaborative product that they can deploy quickly on and maybe for a particular project that they want to increase that innovation within the organisation. Those types of companies, that profile of companies tend to be leaning towards Google just in our experience.

Again, I’m not saying for the, for the Office 265 fans out there that it’s not possible to do that with Microsoft. I think that it is, but I think that this sort of push for change needs to be bigger because there isn’t, what’s the kind of word that I’m looking for, there isn’t a catalyst of the Google Workspace tool there to force the change. People are being forced to make this change, so you’ve got to put in the training and the change management. I think there’s a tendency maybe within Office 365 deployments from what I’ve seen to lean back on the familiarity that like, “Oh, we know this product. We don’t need to train people. We don’t need to look at the processes.”

I’ve seen some really good Office 365 partners who will make sure that the companies do that change management and the transformational change and it’s great when you see that. But very often, you’ll see the opposite where we’re just going to swap it out one for the other. People don’t end up leveraging that kind of change. That’s it for me. I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s update. I look forward to talking to you next week. Because this is often a controversial topic at Google Workspace and Office 365, I’d love to hear people’s comments in the video below. What did you think of some of the areas that I covered? Do you think there was anything that I missed out? Anything that you disagree with? I’d love to have a discussion with you in the comments. Please, do leave your thoughts below. Thank you very much.

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