Google Workspace Vs Microsoft 365

June 30, 2021

We're in the age of digital collaboration. Productivity suites are fast becoming mission-critical programs in every industry. 

Whatever your business, you'll appreciate Microsoft and Google's platforms. 

These technology behemoths supply the vital software we need to achieve day to day business tasks and to collaborate with teams. 

The two platforms we review in this article are Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Both company's offer various subscription levels. The number of apps and tools included depends on the package level you choose. 

Microsoft 365 has been around much longer than Google Workspace. But, Google Workspace has proved popular recently. As a result, Google could one day usurp Microsoft as the world's foremost software provider. 

Trying out either platform for free is easy. Google’s personal account and Microsoft online accounts let you try most features at no cost.  

The question you might be asking is, “How can I choose between Microsoft and Google? Isn’t their software practically identical?”

Yes, Google and Microsoft offer similar software. But there are some distinct differences in their apps. Differences that could have a substantial impact on your business. 

This article explores the differences between the Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 platforms. We also compare each platform's tools, the user interface and compare the pricing.  

How do Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace compare overall?

To say the Microsoft 365 apps are merely ‘functional’ would be an understatement. Microsoft's apps give users an unparalleled selection of features. Their tools and features are world-renowned and internationally recognised.  

The Office apps have been available for nearly as long as personal computers. It's unsurprising that businesses worldwide turn to Microsoft without a second thought. 

But this might be a mistake. Yes, Google Workspace doesn’t have all the functionality that Microsoft products have. Yet, it does have the crucial tools you need. Consider this for a moment; how many Microsoft Word functions do you use when you’re writing a document? Fonts, formatting, basic tables, track changes and perhaps some heading and subheading styles? 

Most users take advantage of these same functions. 

Well, Google Docs includes all those features. It’s the same for Excel and PowerPoint. Google's apps have most of the functionality, with the more advanced features pared back a bit. 

Google doesn't develop many extra features for users. Instead, developers create tools and features for Docs, Sheets and Slides called add-ons. There is a vast range of Add-ons available with diverse uses. Examples include text cleaning, thesaurus tools, dark mode, grammar help and quote finders. While Google’s add-ons aren’t quite as refined or polished as Microsoft’s tools, they get the job done. 

The point here is that if you’re a superuser that needs enterprise-grade tools, then you need Microsoft’s apps. However, if your business prioritises collaboration, then we think Google Workspace may be the better option. 

How do the user interfaces compare? 

Both companies use minimalist designs for their user interfaces (UI) in line with the current style. 

The UI's are intuitive and straightforward to navigate regardless of your experience. There’s almost no learning curve for either platform. 

Both platforms maintain a consistent UI across different devices. As a result, working on the move is a bit easier as you don't have to switch between apps.  

One gripe users have with Microsoft is a result of its extra features. Navigating the many, many options menus can be tiresome if you’re looking for an obscure setting. 

On the other hand, Microsoft has some features that Google lacks. Examples include dark mode and advanced table functions. A determined user could download an add-on for Google Docs to work in dark mode, but there are drawbacks. 

Add-ons can be clunky, and data protection is rarely a priority. Developers sometimes need permission to read your file data - a hazard for data security. 

Online and offline usability 

Demand for simultaneous editing tools and vast off-site storage has surged. 

Both Microsoft and Google grant their paying subscribers enormous cloud storage backups. This prevents irretrievable data loss should an employee leave a laptop somewhere inconvenient. 

You often hear that Google is the better platform for collaboration. But this is a misconception. Simultaneous editing is slicker on Google’s apps, granted. But Microsoft’s co-authoring tool has equal utility. The only difference is that you can’t be a free user and co-edit a document, whereas on Google, you can be. 

Google does have a slight edge, though. It’s a bit easier and faster to share Google Docs through Workspace than it is through Teams. Keep in mind the difference isn’t massive. 

Another common but mistaken belief is that Google Workspace only works while online. As Google's focus is on the cloud, users often assume you can’t edit Google Docs offline when in fact you can. Google’s apps are downloadable and work precisely as they do online. 

Compared side by side, Microsoft’s apps offer a superior user experience offline. There’s no need for add-ons or optional extras. Everything your business needs is already included and fine-tuned for performance. 

How do Microsoft and Google’s apps compare side by side? 

Below, we compare the most popular apps in Google and Microsoft's subscription packages. 

You’ll notice we haven’t compared G Drive and OneDrive. This is because neither app offers any especially useful feature that the other doesn’t. Both are reliable and fast storage solutions that you can rely on. 

First, we compare the essential apps: word processors. 

Microsoft Word vs Google Docs  

Both Word and Docs help you to carry out the day-to-day word processing that any business needs to do. Both are regularly updated, easy to navigate and secure. 

Word has an array of advanced features not available using any version of Docs. These tools give you extra design options, table functions and extra fonts, among others. 

Google Docs is a scaled-down word processor that packs in the tools needed by the majority of users. If there’s a feature you need that’s not included, you can download third-party add-ons. 

Since 2010, Microsoft has offered Word Online for free. Similarly, Google Docs has been free to use with a Gmail account since its creation. But, Word online doesn’t include the full range of features, whereas Google Docs does. 

Which word processor better suits your business boils down to personal preference. But that doesn’t mean that one isn’t objectively better than the other. It could be that your business needs a simpler, cheaper word processor. A more expensive and technically advanced option could be unnecessary. 

Microsoft Excel vs Google Sheets 

Most businesses use one of these spreadsheet builders daily. Since its launch, Excel has dominated the market, but Sheets has a growing following. 

Both Excel and Sheets let you build advanced spreadsheets and custom formulas. Excel or Sheets are ideal for most businesses daily needs. 

Sheets and Excel both work online. But, both have apps you can download to work offline. Sheets is mainly an online spreadsheet creator, whereas Excel is usually used offline. This makes Sheets an easier program to collaborate online through. You can co-author Excel spreadsheets, but it's easier to do through Sheets.  

Excel's advanced features leave Sheets in the dust. For example, you can link data in your spreadsheets to your Word and PowerPoint documents. If you change the data in your spreadsheet, your other documents will update. Features like this keep your marketing and sales materials consistent. 

Excel also includes visual basic for applications (VBA). VBA is a programming language that lets you build advanced functions into your spreadsheets. VBA isn’t for casual, non-technical users but is necessary for medium and large businesses. 

If collaboration is your priority, Sheets will suit your business. But if you need advanced features, go for Excel. 

Microsoft Teams vs Google Workspace/ Meet/ Chat 

Video conferencing apps have fast become an essential mode of communication. 

Microsoft Teams and Google Workspace are much more than just video conferencing apps. 

It's not possible to compare these apps and services with perfect accuracy. Teams includes many tools in one app, whereas Google spreads its tools out over a few different apps. Some features are in the Google Workspace dashboard, some are in Meet and others are in Chat. 

Teams gives you a constant stream of chats to organise your workflow and manage your team. You can set up meetings and invite people through your calendar. You can create and edit work documents as a group. You can also host video calls with up to 10,000 participants. 

Meet (formerly Hangouts) is the Google app that supports video conferencing and calls. You can send and receive calendar invites and conference with up to 250 people. 

Chat is the Workspace messaging app that gives your team a way to maintain constant contact. 

Teams is the more convenient of the two options. If you don't mind switching between apps, Workspace has all the same utility. 

Gmail vs Exchange 

Choosing the right email client can save you a lot of hassle. You don’t want spam or server downtime. You want a fast, convenient email provider with reliable customer support. 

Gmail and Exchange are two tried and true email clients. Both providers have a lot in common. You can use custom email domains and access different accounts using one sign-in. Both have robust security, including two-factor authentication, and both come with integrated calendars.

Gmail offers some extra flexibility with your spam folder. It’s easier to whitelist/ blacklist emails or domains and create custom spam folders. Using Exchange, you can only turn spam on or off. 

But, Exchange allows a much larger email file size, 150MB, whereas Gmail limits you to 25MB per email. 

Ad targeting is an area where the two companies diverge. Google uses data from your emails to show you targeted ads. Microsoft claims it doesn’t do this, giving you better data security.  

If data privacy is a high priority, Microsoft Exchange is the way to go. If you’re looking to cut costs or prefer a simpler email client, look to Gmail. 

Pricing – Which plans compare with which? 

Both Microsoft and Google charge for their services through subscriptions. You can pay for Microsoft Office apps as a one-off payment, but you won’t get regular updates. 

Google and Microsoft’s productivity platforms don’t overlap perfectly. You’ll need to compare the services each company provides to decide which provider is best for you. 

Microsoft 365 Pricing

There are three distinct Microsoft 365 packages. Each subscription includes Teams, Exchange, OneDrive and SharePoint.

Microsoft also offers a cheaper Office app-only plan that doesn't include Teams, Exchange or SharePoint. Businesses that use other software or don’t want to move over to Teams could use this plan. 

Business Basic - £3.80 per user per month

· Mobile-only version of Office apps

· 1TB of OneDrive storage 

· Teams, SharePoint and Exchange included 

Business Standard - £9.40 per user per month

· Full Office suite including desktop app downloads 

· 1TB of OneDrive storage 

· Some extras like Outlook customer manager and Microsoft invoicing 

Business Premium - £15.10 per month per user

· Full Office suite including desktop app downloads

· Advanced cyber threat protection and remote device management tools 

· Superior employee account controls and restrictions 

Google Workspace Pricing

Google Workspace has four paid plans. All the Workspace subscriptions include every Google app. 

You can access Google Docs, Sheets, and a few other features by creating a Gmail account. 

Business Starter - £4.14 per user per month 

· Offline and online versions of all apps 

· Customer and secure employee business emails. 

· Video meetings with up to 100 participants 

· Each user has 30GB of cloud storage 

Business Standard - £8.28 per user per month 

· Offline and online versions of all apps 

· Video meetings with up to 150 participants and the option to record sessions 

· Each user has 2TB of cloud storage 

· Extra security and management controls

Business Plus - £13.80 per user per month 

· Offline and online versions of all apps 

· Custom email with eDiscovery and email retention options

· Video meetings with up to 250 participants, recording options and attendance tracking 

· Each user has 5TB of cloud storage 

· Enhanced security and management options 

Enterprise - Custom pricing only 

· Offline and online versions of all apps 

· Custom email with an enhanced encryption level 

· Video meetings with up to 250 participants, recording and attendance tracking, noise cancellation 

· Unlimited user storage 

· Advanced, custom security 

Workspace vs 365 Summary 

Microsoft and Google’s productivity programs provide enormous value to businesses. Which provider better suits any one company will depend upon its nature, however there isn’t really a bad choice to make between the two. 

Both Microsoft and Google provide outstanding apps that get tasks done and support collaboration.

If you’re looking for a cheap and scalable productivity suite, Google Workspace is an excellent choice. 

If advanced tools are a higher priority, you are an excel super user or you are already experienced using the Microsoft suite, a 365 package would be the right choice.