Microsoft Office 365 vs. Google Apps for Work

December 9, 2015 Jiordan Castle


When it comes to cloud-based productivity tools and software, businesses have a wide array of options. But depending on the size and scale of your company, you may have very few viable ones. Among them, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Work. Which subscription-based suite of cloud tools is right for your workforce? Here we’ll examine a few key differences and compare basic features.

Cost and commitment

Google Apps for Work keeps their service simple with 2 distinct plans — entry-level for $5 per user per month or one with more bells and whistles for $10 per user per month. Microsoft can be a bit more confusing. They offer 6 different options (3 for small- to medium-sized businesses and 3 for large businesses) that range from $5 to $20 per user per month. Granted, for $5 a month, Office 365 gives users 1TB of online storage, while Google gives users just 30GB.

But that abundance of storage comes at a cost from Microsoft; Office 365 requires a year-long commitment, while Google Apps for Work is available on a month-to-month basis. (With Google, you can also pay for a full year in advance and receive a discounted rate.) And if storage is a deciding factor, keep in mind: on the $10 a month (or $120 a year) plan, Google gives users unlimited storage.

Word Online vs. Google Docs

Google has the newfangled, intuitive Gmail, Hangouts, Drive, and Docs. Microsoft has the tried-and-true, familiar Outlook, Excel, Word, and Powerpoint. As with most things, your comfort level may be somewhere between Microsoft and Google — a little of column A, a little of column B. The following video from The Wall Street Journal showcases core differences in the real-time collaboration capabilities provided by Word 2016 and Google Docs:

Office 365 is Microsoft’s first deep dive into all things cloud, whereas Google Docs was born and bred in the cloud, a history prized by millennial workers and distrusted by senior executives (many of whom have used Microsoft for years). While that doesn’t mean you need to give Office 365 the boot in order to attract and retain new talent, it’s worth considering some of the subtle differences between Microsoft and Google.

For instance, Google Docs and Word Online slightly vary the way users perform the same tasks. While Office 365 now boasts real-time co-authoring to compete with Google Drive, Word maintains the traditional “track changes” language and method; Google Docs allows users to make permanent edits or merely propose changes in “suggesting” mode, allowing other users to approve final changes.

Which should you choose?

In Microsoft’s case, you can choose from different services and different application features in Office 365, Office 2016, and Office Online — offerings just similar enough to merit confusion when choosing between them. Google has a history of aligning their work productivity tools and software with consumer tools and software, which may explain the 900 million-plus users around the world (more than 3-quarters of whom log on from mobile devices). Meanwhile, has just over 400 million users. Since 2012, it’s allowed Microsoft users to access their existing Microsoft email from their web browser (and more recently, through its own mobile app)… something Google’s been doing with Gmail for over 10 years.

For more on the why and how of switching to Google, read our ebook, Appirio’s Guide to Going Google.


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