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G Suite vs Microsoft 365 (2021): Which Productivity Suite is Right for You?

Microsoft used to have an incredible control over the market share for productivity applications. Their Office suite has been a part of workplaces everywhere for almost as long as PCs have been in use. Younger users might even remember playing around with WordArt or different PowerPoint transitions and animations. However, the current market for productivity suites isn’t as dominated by Microsoft anymore.

Nowadays, there’s a ton of competitors. There are ones made by Apple for their computers running on macOS, and there are even free, open source alternatives like LibreOffice. One of the most popular productivity suites, though, is Google’s G Suite. It runs on your browser and its mobile apps, and syncs across devices. Let’s take a look at how G Suite and Microsoft 365 stack up against each other.

G Suite vs Microsoft 365 Comparison Chart

ModelG SuiteMicrosoft 365
 
PriceCheck Price at G SuiteCheck Price at Microsoft
Pricing TiersBasic, Business, EnterpriseBusiness Basic, Business Standard, Business Premium, Family, Personal, Home & Student
Software Included (Basic package)Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Calendar, Hangouts, Photos, Meet, Chat, Sites, Forms, Currents, DriveWord, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams, Exchanges, OneDrive, SharePoint
Cloud StorageUnlimited for Business and Enterprise, 30GB-1TB if <5 users1TB + 50GB separate email storage
Real-Time CollaborationYesYes (Skype used)
PlatformWebWeb, desktop apps

Pricing

Microsoft offers more pricing tiers for both home and business use.

Most G Suite apps can be used individually for free, however, by anyone with a Google account.

As with any purchase, regardless of product, price is always an important factor. This is especially important for any small business owner reading this comparison. Productivity suite subscriptions factor in your annual budget, so you want to make sure your software fits your needs as best as it can. You also want to squeeze the value from every cent you spend for efficiency. With that acknowledged, let’s take a look at how much these two services charge.

Before starting, though, it’s also worth noting that Google’s productivity apps like Docs or Slides are usable with your basic Google account. This is the reason why Google doesn’t have a separate payment plan for home users. Those availing of G Suite are paying for the connectivity between accounts, the shared storage, and the enhanced storage capacity. G Suite has three plans: Basic, Business, and Enterprise. Storage maxes out at 30GB for single users and 1TB each for suites with 5 members or less. With more than five people though, your business can use Google’s cloud storage with no restrictions on capacity.

In comparison, you can’t really use 365-dependent applications without a subscription, or even non-365 Office programs after your trial expires. To their credit, Microsoft does offer more choices for payment plans. This means that you’ll have more of a choice, and you can see which plan fit your needs best. They divide it into two main categories: Business and Home. Cloud storage, regardless of plan, caps at 1TB per user. While that may seem small, you’ll have to take into account that emails aren’t counted. Microsoft offers its users a separate 50GB storage for emails.

Applications and Storage

The Microsoft 365 basic suite is barebones, even lacking when compared to G Suite’s.

A look at each suite’s word processors: Microsoft Word (left) and Google Docs (right).

Before comparing the two suites on an app-to-app basis, let’s compare the two suites in their entirety. Aside from G Suite’s bigger (unlimited) storage size, it’s also more conducive to real-time work. Most Google apps include a chat box within the program itself, eliminating the need for a separate tab for talking with your co-workers. If you need to video call, Hangouts is available. Microsoft can offer the same with their Skype for Business, but not in-file chatting.

Google’s apps work on browsers and on dedicated mobile apps. Meanwhile, Microsoft 365 has web, mobile, and desktop versions. In general, G Suite is better for real-time collaboration, though both are technically capable of it. 365, on the other hand, is better if you want to do work outside of your browser.

Word vs Docs

Google Docs, like the rest of the G Suite, shines in real-time collaboration situations. You can work with other people, seeing their progress appear right as they type it on their own computers. For non-live situations, comments and editing are also available. Google Docs by itself does feel a bit more simple than Word. While that means it’s easier to use, it also means that some functions you may expect from a decked-out word processor isn’t available, or is only available through an add-on. These add-ons are mostly free, but you’ll have to look for the ones you’re aiming to use by yourself.

Microsoft Word, on the other hand, is fully armed with most, if not all, functions that you’ll need from a word processor. For starters, Word has more templates that range from whimsical to professional. They have resumes, reports, brochures, and almost everything else that you’ll probably need. They also have more robust tools like a better dictionary, for one.

PowerPoint vs Slides

Google Slides, once again, is best for those whose businesses have real-time collaboration as their lifeblood. PowerPoint wins the features race easily though. It gives fast ideas for presentation themes with its QuickStarter feature, and spoils its users with an easier-to-use user interface that doesn’t make adding and formatting graphics and text difficult. It even has a Rehearse Timings feature which eliminates the need for clickers (as long as you keep your pitch memorized down to a tee).

Excel vs Sheets

A look at the two spreadsheets apps: Sheets (left) and Excel (right).

The same story plays out for the spreadsheet battle: Google wins over Microsoft in ease of use for real-time collaborative work, but Microsoft still has an edge over its competitor in features. Excel supports more chart types with many more sub-types and has more templates, making assembling your spreadsheet files a breeze. However, if most of your company’s number-crunching absolutely has to be done at the same time with multiple people, Excel’s collaborative features are clunkier to use than Sheets’.

Gmail vs Outlook

You might prefer Gmail if you like a simple, easy-to-use layout. User friendliness doesn’t end at just aesthetics for Google: one notable feature is its writing AI. While you’re writing an email, it suggests some likely next words you’ll be using, which can then be added at the tap of a key.

Outlook is still a mainstay of offices globally, though, and not without reason. It’s generally more powerful than Gmail (and it can even host a Gmail account). Some features that Outlook has makes it clear that it’s made for business use. One feature is its Focused Inbox, which helps you look at the most important emails first. Another is Clean Up, which organizes email chains into conversations, making keeping track of how business is going easier. Microsoft is also working towards making it more user-friendly, with new features like an improved ribbon interface.

Other applications

Google Drive and OneDrive provide the same function, with their main difference being the storage sizes mentioned earlier in this article. For chatting and calling, Microsoft Teams is a more robust option over Google’s Hangouts and Meet apps. For one, it’s integrated in one app. Teams is also seamlessly connected to the rest of your 365 suite, meaning that it’s easier to send files for checking within your company.

Security

Both services offer their own security options for administrators and users alike.

A user with his 365 applications (left); a look at Google’s Admin interface (right).

Another important aspect of picking a productivity suite, aside from the quantity and quality of applications available, is how good it is at keeping your files safe. Both companies do provide good quality security, and do their best at making it as easy to manage as possible for company administrators. G Suite has all the basics you’ll need. It uses Google’s resources, so it can detect anomalous activity, phishing attempts, and anything else that might put your company at risk with ease. It also comes with a feature that blocks outgoing communications with a set keyword.

However, Microsoft 365 is significantly more comprehensive with its security features. It has multiple-factor authentication available (compared to G Suite’s 2FA), and it uses AI to know if one specific account is behaving erratically. Online reviews note that its “Essentials” feature makes it a clear winner over G Suite in this aspect. Essentials helps you accomplish important tasks like editing users and even paying bills, making it easy for anyone to do these tasks without asking for help from the tech department.

Service and Support

Both companies offer 24/7 support.

Another look at Microsoft 365 (left) and G Suite (right) products.

Google has an around-the clock support staff that can help you with your suite problems. It’s worth noting, though, that that option is only available for the suite administrators. They also have FAQs available online, a blog on recent updates, and a general help area open to anyone who isn’t an administrator.

Microsoft offers comparably good support service. They’re reachable via phone, email, and chat for 365 administrators. Most notably, they have a 365 Training Center online that has in-depth videos for suite administrators and users, ensuring that you won’t have much trouble with the relatively steeper learning curve that 365 has. Microsoft also releases reports regularly on how their software updates go.

Verdict

G Suite emphasizes real-time collaboration, while Microsoft 365 adds everything you could need as a user or admin.

Microsoft 365

Best for big enterprises

G Suite

Best for small companies

G Suite is best for small businesses that are tight-knit and do highly collaborative work. Real-time collaboration features are integrated into the apps themselves, and it’s been made a priority from the start by the developers. You can talk to your co-workers without needing to switch windows or tabs. If time is money in your organization, G Suite will make sure that you won’t be wasting either.

Microsoft 365 is the choice, though, for bigger companies that need a robust suite that can support a variety of features. Microsoft knows this, and that’s why their Basic plan doesn’t include support for the desktop app versions of their suite. It shines in situations where collaboration is more long-term than real-time: Teams, specifically, makes swapping files between employees a breeze. It also provides a more comprehensive interface for administrators, giving you more control instead of letting Microsoft do everything without your knowledge.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ What is the difference between G Suite and Office 365?

G Suite operates on your desktop browser and mobile apps, while 365 has both of those plus separate desktop programs. Despite that, both do have the capability to work online, though G Suite apps are relatively limited.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is G Suite cheaper than Office 365?

Prices are comparable between the two. However, G Suite’s unlimited storage capacity may make it more worth its price.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is G Suite compatible with Microsoft Office?

G Suite applications can run most files made with Office; for example, Docs supports reading and opening Word files.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is Google G Suite free?

G Suite and the connectivity and storage it provides is not free. However, Google’s applications, like Docs or Slides, are free to use.

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Mauie Flores

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying, blogger and content creator passionate about writing, music, and good food.