Microsoft and Google are the big names in office productivity suites and, while there are other options on the market, it’s fair to say they have both earned their place. Both offer the most commonly used business functions including word processing, spreadsheets and file storage. So how do you decide which is right for your business needs?


G Suite is accessed via the internet and while shortcuts can be placed on the desktop these simply open the relevant G Suite application in your web browser. This simplicity of deployment might be attractive to newer businesses without much existing tech infrastructure. Historically, Microsoft’s Office suite software has been downloaded to your machine and accessed offline. However, Microsoft Office 365 packages now offer both offline desktop use and online Office.

Some business users will prefer the stripped-down, clean design of G Suite, which is more streamlined to make simple tasks easier. Others might prefer the additional features and capabilities stuffed into Microsoft’s flagship products like Word and Excel, but that massive range of options might also make the programs confusing for light users doing simple tasks. That being said, many people are familiar with the general use of the longer-established Microsoft programs, and in that instance the stripped-down online versions of Word and Excel might offer the best of both worlds. On the other hand, while G Suite apps are simple by default you can download browser add-ons for most tasks that aren’t internally supported.


Word processing

For more involved document creation, Microsoft’s flagship Word desktop program is packed with advanced features that Google Docs can’t match. However, for a lot of common tasks those advanced features will go unused and the simple approach of Google Docs will get the job done without fuss. Microsoft Word offers features that can handle huge documents and files, well suited to substantial document editing and processing.

Where Google Docs outdoes Microsoft Word’s desktop version is in real-time document editing and sharing capabilities. Multiple users can access documents, make changes or suggest edits and each change will be flagged or highlighted, and it sends notifications to other members of the shared document. Users can also look back at previous edits, so nothing is permanently overwritten. Word can provide tracked changes and suggested edits via the ‘review’ tab, but this is not real-time or as simple to use. Google Docs will automatically save work, integrates common add-ons and can be accessed from any device with an internet connection.



Again, Microsoft’s Excel is packed with features and capabilities for complex work and sizeable data imports and exports. The equivalent Google Sheets isn’t designed to handle the same sheer amount of data but it does offer good functionality and ease of use for lighter tasks, with graphs, and the ability to calculate auto-fill sums available through add-ons. If your business needs are for serious number crunching, Excel remains the more powerful option.


Email client

With Microsoft’s Office 365 Business Essentials package, users will get 50 GB of mailbox storage, 1 TB of file storage and access for up to 300 users, with a premium business option also available. G Suite Business looks attractive with unlimited mailbox storage, 1 TB of cloud storage and unlimited user access but, as always, it’s online only.


Continuing the general theme, Google’s Gmail is simple and functional whereas Microsoft’s Outlook desktop offers a host of features, such as integrated photo viewer, instant actions (for quickly marking or deleting an email) and social media integration. Outlook users can also create ‘rules’ to tailor how incoming and outgoing emails are managed. Both provide calendars linked to user accounts and to others in the workplace, which can be used to schedule meetings, keep records of meetings, and even book meeting rooms.


Gmail’s speed and search functionality is ahead of Outlook and the interface is easy to navigate. But it’s worth noting that Business Essentials users will also have access to Outlook’s web email client, a more stripped-down version that makes it quicker than the desktop client.


Communication tools

Microsoft Teams is an instant chat workspace for group chats, sending private messages and files. You are notified if your name is directly mentioned and you’ll also see a red flag or exclamation point next to the message you’re mentioned in.


Google’s equivalent, Hangouts, offers instant messaging, group chats and built-in screen sharing. As with most comparisons, Google’s minimalist approach means that Hangouts doesn’t include all the features that Teams has on offer. Teams allows users to create multiple channels which anyone can join, which might be for marketing, sales and so on. Hangouts can only create group chats which have to be set up by an individual and only that person can add more people.


For staff in multiple locations, Microsoft also offers Skype for Business for group conference calls and video meetings. Google Hangouts does include video calling capabilities, but Skype for is more popular and well established in the video conferencing arena.


Hangouts is a great, simple interface for quick messages and chat if that serves your purposes for collaboration. Teams offers a lot more functionality if you often discuss group projects or need constant collaboration.


Ultimately, both Office 365 and Google Suite are great products. Your decision will depend on the needs and preferences of your business and your team. The simplicity and ease of use (especially for collaborative document editing) makes Google attractive. However, if it’s advanced features and computing power, the Office 365 programs may suit your business better.


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