Back in August 2021, we ran a webinar on Office 365. Looking into exactly what it is and everything that is included. We also looked at the impact of using such a tool, both the positives and the negatives. We concluded that Microsoft 365 was a premium application suite offering, complete enough to help any business operate smoothly. Saying that Microsoft does not have a monopoly over such things, alternatives do exist. Are any of these alternatives better? Today we put the closest competitor under the microscope in this first of many series of Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace. How does their workspace suite compare to Microsoft 365? Let’s find out.
Overview Google Workspace
As with Microsoft, Google has multiple packages on offer. However, unlike Microsoft, this is not broken down into business and enterprise levels. Google offers four packages compared with Microsoft’s seven. Google has business starter, standard, plus and then finally enterprise. For ease, we will be comparing Google Business plus vs Microsoft Business premium. As standard Google comes with Gmail, Meet, Calendar, Docs, Drive, Chat and Admin Control. Microsoft also offers all of these things but does so in a slightly different way, with a lot of this being available through Microsoft Teams. So again, to simplify the comparison we will be using Google’s structure and then compare it with what Microsoft does similarly or different.
Firstly, we shall start with Gmail. Every user who is part of Google Workspace will be given a business email. This will not be a traditional Gmail consisting of the @gmail domain name. Instead, you will be given your own domain, something along the lines of [email protected]. This is very similar to Microsoft 365, where again you will be given your own branded email domain. Both can be accessed anywhere through the net or the local app versions, meaning therefore both are cloud-based.
Next, is Google meet. This is Google’s version of zoom, essentially a video conferencing and meeting platform. As standard, it is a pretty basic bit of software that only allows video calls between 100 people. However, on the plus plan, it does come with some good additions making it a much complete and useful tool. Included in the plus plan is the ability to host up to 250 users. Recordings of meetings being saved directly to the drive, hand raising, ‘break out rooms’, audience polling, Q&A and attendance tracking. Comparing this with Microsoft 365, all of the above is available through Teams. Teams can also host up to 300 people in a video conference, with up to 50 break rooms possible. Hand raising is followed by hand lowering which was a recent addition announced back in May. Overall then, Microsoft would have to be the winner in this department. As standard Teams is way better and even when comparing the Google Plus version, the additions only just about bring it to a near level with teams.
Google Calendar is a scheduling system. It allows you to send and receive invites to events and meetings. The meetings you schedule that get accepted, alongside the meetings you accept your self will automatically find their place in the calendar. Helping you to stay on top of your schedule. Additionally, to help you stay on top of your schedule, it will notify you of any potential overlaps before accepting. Microsoft does offer all the above. They offer meeting invites through Teams, which can also create an e-room for that specific meeting. Outlook too has scheduling and calendar features, with synchronisation between both possible. Google does allow for the ability to auto-accept invitations. Whether that is positive or negative would be down to personal opinion. Personally, then again, we would say that Microsoft is just a slight winner here. The ability to have the calendar in Teams and Outlook just works really well and takes the overall integration to that next level making it feel like a more complete suite.
Google Docs is Google’s version of real-time collaboration. Using a web browser, you will be able to create and access cloud-stored files and documents, including spreadsheets and word type documents. These files are then able to be worked on in collaboration in real-time by a whole team, with multiple people able to have the document open and make changes. It allows for changes to be tracked, meaning they do not have to be finalised until the group or the superior agrees.
Now with Microsoft 365, this again works the same but different. The ability to collaborate in real-time and also edit and track changes are exactly the same. The difference is in the ways you can access the files. Like Google, this can be done via a link and web browser. However, on top of that, the files can also be accessed and shared through teams! With Teams, it would run an application version inside Teams so you would essentially be working out of the Word app. On top of the ability to work through app-like versions, the actual software you are using overall just feels better. You will be using the classic Microsoft apps like PowerPoint, Word, Excel and the rest. This means that you, in our opinion, when using Microsoft will be working with better software. On top of that, it’s also just software that many more will feel much more familiar with. Usually meaning better productivity at the early stages.
Next is Google Drive. This is Google’s cloud-based storage system. It will host all your emails, users, files. Just about anything you create or save within Google will be stored here. When on Google workspace’s plus plan, this drive will come with 5TB of pooled storage per user. This will be the case unless you have under 5 users, where then it becomes only 1TB per user. Also, when using the plus plan files are much safer as the drive becomes a ‘shared drive’. The reason why this is safer is the shared drive allocates files to a team rather than an individual. Meaning when an employee leaves their files remain automatically. This would not be the case with lower levels. For the starter plan, you would need to move all files before deleting the user.
To compare with Microsoft 365, one would compare with One Drive. In terms of functionality, they both work similarly. Storing files, emails and all your content in one easily accessible place, any web browser. In terms of files remaining after a user is deleted this would also be the case for Microsoft but this is just standard procedure. In terms of storage Google plus beats Microsoft Premium. Google offers 5TB to any company with over 5 users, and 1TB to any below. Microsoft is just 1TB per user. Whilst 1Tb is a lot of data for smaller files. When it comes to high-quality images and video files 1TB may see you pushing its limits. As an example, a graphic design company may need more than 1TB per user, especially if all are designers.
Google chat is Google’s attempt at an instant messaging system. It allows one on one chats. Alongside group chats for; teams, projects or however you wish to allocate the groups. It has an online and application-based version, allowing for not only chatting but also file-sharing from Google Docs. If we were to compare this with Microsoft 365, we would again need to compare it with Microsoft Teams.
Teams has a chat function built-in allowing for instant messaging between groups and individuals. Additionally, when using Google’s plus plan, Chat also allows you to speak with those outside of your organisation. Again, this is something that can be similarly done through teams. Teams also has channels that allow for posting between groups, but in a way that’s more akin to a social media feed rather than instant messaging. In this case, they are very similar, but again the overall integration and completeness of Teams means, in our opinion, Microsoft comes out on top.
Any workplace suite wouldn’t be complete without admin rights. The ability to give and take away permission from employees is a must. Without it hiring, promoting and firing staff would create too many complications on the way your work cyber environment is set up. Google’s take on admin rights, therefore, follows suit. Everything is managed from a central point, on the starter plan, this is limited to creating, deleting and changing user accounts as well as security features. On the plus plan, this is improved greatly. The much-needed ability to control users’ access to files, features and services is introduced. This alongside the ability to remotely manage mobile fleets creates the secure environment that is needed from such an offering. On top of this advanced endpoint management is introduced as well as access to google vault. Google vault is an information governance platform that allows you to keep data for as long as you like, so can be very handy.
When using Microsoft 365 the ability to remotely manage permissions and control admin rights is conducted through Microsoft Azure. Azure allows you to give access to files and folders, give and take away access to a certain device. On top of this permission can be edited even further to allow who controls what, and who can have permission to do tasks such as downloading. Microsoft Azure can even do more than this, it is a multi-level platform that can be used for just about anything from cloud control to AI and machine learning. However, as this goes past the scope we won’t go into too much detail, we will just say that due to Azure again Microsoft comes out on top when it comes to admin rights.
Conclusion Microsoft 365 (Office 365) vs Google Workspace
Overall then Microsoft 365 is ultimately the winner. If you were to compare the Google starter and Microsoft Basic plan, Microsoft would be the clear winner in every department. When comparing the Google Plus and Microsoft Premium plan, Google‘s addition brings it up much closer to Microsoft‘s level even beating them in terms of storage space for the cloud drive. However, Google’s additions are all already included in Microsofts more standard versions and they are only bringing themselves up to around par. When you take this along with the fact that Microsofts overall integrations are of a much higher level. The fact Microsoft is more familiar, and you can do so much more when utilising Microsoft Azure. We would have to say that overall Microsoft is the winner in our eyes.
Want to learn more about how Microsoft’s business suite can power your business? Maybe you’re intrigued by the endless capabilities of Microsoft Azure? At IQ in IT, technology success is our bread and butter. We can make technology work for any business. Will yours be next?
About the Author
Juri Weidenkeller is the Head of Business Development at IQ in IT. His IT career began at a cyber security vendor. He worked with 400 different IT support companies and managed services providers across the UK and Germany before joining IQ in IT in 2021. His interest is in operation excellence, making the most out of technology, security and good customer relationships.
If you want to learn more on that topic, ask Juri a question (about his name for example) or if you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. There is a “Schedule Online” button in the top right corner of this page that leads you to our calendars. Or ping us a message through the comments.