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Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace

Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace (homepages)
(Image credit: Microsoft, Google)

Until recently, businesses would have to make a lot of choices about which software to use, looking at different options for the best email providers, document editing, storage, and so on. But now, tech companies offer full productivity suites, such as Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), which integrate all these products into one combined plan.

You may see this as a cynical attempt by the companies to get all, rather than some of, your business, and there are certainly alternatives, free or paid, that are available. However, there are definite advantages for users, such as the time saved due to the integration of applications and features, and the lower cost of subscribing to a single plan. In this article, we will compare Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace, looking at the features, performance, support, and pricing of each.

Microsoft 365 - the top choice for desktop software

Microsoft 365 - the top choice for desktop software

Microsoft 365 offers the most popular office software suite of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint plus Outlook, OneDrive and Teams via desktop, mobile, and web apps. Real-time coauthoring allows multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously, with a one-hour support response to critical issues as part of each of the three business plans on offer.

Google Workspace - superior online suite and user-friendly

Google Workspace - superior online suite and user-friendly

Workspace's Docs, Sheets, and Slides have a refreshing simplicity and ease of use, and enable real-time co-authoring, while Gmail, Meet and Chat offer emails, video calls and instant messaging via browser. Workspace's online functionality is easy to use and difficult to beat, with support plan-dependent and ranging from one- to four-hour support response.

Features

a demonstration of Microsoft Word's multi-user collaboration feature

 You can collaborate with other users within the Microsoft Word app (Image credit: Microsoft )

Both options include software for documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Microsoft 365’s are Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, respectively. These have been the most popular office software choices for years, and it’s difficult to beat them in terms of their depth of features. They can be accessed via desktop, mobile, and web apps. Real-time coauthoring allows multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously, including within the desktop apps.

Google Workspace offers equivalents to these, called Docs, Sheets, and Slides. They don’t have the same depth of features as Microsoft’s versions, but have a refreshing simplicity and ease of use, while still being very powerful. They also enable real-time co-authoring. The main disadvantage with Google is that there are no desktop apps - they can only be accessed via web browser or mobile app. However, it is possible to access and edit documents offline, and the edits sync with the server next time you’re connected to the internet.

Both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace offer custom business email, so each user can have an address using your company’s domain. As with the office apps, Microsoft offers you the option of accessing email via the Outlook app or web browser, whereas Google’s Gmail does not come with a desktop app (though you can connect Gmail accounts to third-party software such as Outlook or Thunderbird). 

Microsoft 365 includes Microsoft Teams, which can be used for video calls of up to 300 users, as well as text chat between teams or individuals. Google has two separate services, Meet and Chat, which have similar functions, though the number of users you can have in a meeting is either 100, 150, or 250, depending on your plan. And, Google’s options are accessed via browser rather than an app, with both meetings and chats accessible from the Gmail interface.

Both services offer software for cloud storage, calendaring, form creation, and team sites. Microsoft 365 also includes, for PC users only, desktop publishing application Publisher and database app Access, for neither of which Google has an equivalent. Google Workspace also includes Currents, which is like a social network for discussing ideas, though this doesn’t offer much that can’t already be done in Chat.

Performance

a demonstration of Gmail's smart suggestion feature

Gmail has useful time-saving features like smart suggestions (Image credit: Google)

In terms of online stability, both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace offer a 99.9% uptime guarantee. In other words, if you have more than 45 minutes in a month in which the online parts of the service are inaccessible, you’ll receive a credit. In practice, both services are stable and very rarely have to pay out.

When it comes to ease of use, Google’s online functionality is difficult to beat. All the elements interact smoothly with each other, such as how you can access files in your storage or text chats easily from within the Gmail interface. And Gmail has a lot of useful time-saving features, such as smart suggestions, undo send, and the ability to organize emails via either labels or folders. Compared to this, Microsoft’s email interface is lagging behind the times.

Microsoft’s main desktop apps, though very robust and reliable, also haven’t seen any major changes for a while. It’s when it comes to its mobile apps and online functionality that Microsoft has been making bigger changes recently. Though the overall suite isn’t as slick as Google’s, it’s easy to access your OneDrive files from within Teams, and there are some nice new features, such as OneDrive’s AI-driven search, which helps you find files.

Support

Google Workspace's support plans

Google Workspace’s support options come at an additional cost (Image credit: Google)

With both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace, there are online help centers and community forums where you can find answers to many technical issues. You also have the options to contact tech support via phone, email, or text chat.

All Google Workspace users have access to the standard support, which offers a four-hour response to high-priority issues. On the higher plans, and for an additional cost on top of that, you can upgrade to enhanced support with a one-hour response time. Microsoft’s support, meanwhile, offers a one-hour response to critical issues as part of the Basic plan or above. So, in terms of support, Microsoft is the better option.

Pricing and plans

Microsoft 365's pricing plans

Microsoft 365 offers a collection of apps for an affordable monthly fee (Image credit: Microsoft )

There are three options available for Microsoft 365 business users—Business Basic, Business Standard, and Business Premium. The Basic plan costs $5 per user a month and includes the web and mobile Office apps, business email, calendaring, and 1TB of storage. Standard costs $12.50 per user a month and adds the desktop versions of office apps. Premium costs $20 per user a month and adds advanced security and device management.

With Google Workspace, again there are three main plans—Starter, Standard, and Plus. Starter costs $6 per user a month and includes all document editing apps, business email, and 30GB of cloud storage per user. Standard costs $12 per user a month and includes 2TB of storage per user. Business Plus costs $18 per user a month and includes 5TB per user of storage, plus upgraded security and management controls.

So, both options have similar pricing structures, though the main difference is that while Google has very limited storage on the cheapest plan and more storage as you go up, Microsoft includes the same amount of storage on each plan. 

Microsoft’s Basic plan is the cheapest option overall, and if 1TB is enough for you and you don’t need the desktop apps, it may also be the best. If you want to pay a bit more for a Standard plan, your decision is between whether you want the desktop apps that come with Microsoft or the extra terabyte of storage that comes with Google Workspace.

Verdict

Both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 are comprehensive and cost-effective software options for running a small or medium business. They have similar pricing structures, and the elements included in each are actually quite similar—both have impressive email, documents, storage, calendaring, and video calls, among other functions.

A main difference is that, while most of Google’s functions are accessed via web browser, Microsoft’s are available as desktop apps. Google’s system is seen by some as more modern and integrated, but it can be easier and more organized to use separate apps for separate functions. If you prefer to use desktop apps, Microsoft 365 is definitely the better option for you.

That said, though Microsoft is catching up, Google’s online features are slicker, with many useful time-saving features built in, and the integration across the whole suite works very well. Thus, if you don’t mind not having desktop apps, Google Workspace is a very good option for modern small to medium businesses.

Kieron Moore

Kieron Moore is a freelance writer based in Manchester, England. He contributes to Future sites including TechRadar and Creative Bloq, focusing on subjects including creative software, video editing, and streaming services. This work draws on his experience as an independent filmmaker and an independent TV watcher. He can be found on Twitter at @KieronMoore, usually when he’s meant to be writing.