Microsoft and Google for long have been competing on the productivity suite and collaboration space ever since Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace were launched in 2010 and 2011 respectively. What started as business email, cloud storage, productivity apps and communication and messaging tool are now enterprise grade digital workspace solutions that tick all the top-level boxes on your company’s communications and productivity checklist. Considering both these companies are leader in cloud platform, it is imperative that the underlying infrastructure is highly reliable, resilient and globally available.
While the two companies have strived hard to dominate the market, they have taken distinctly different approach towards building their platform.
Microsoft has positioned its flagship desktop and server products with their cloud equivalent thus retaining the user experience and the functionality intact to a greater intent when the users move to the cloud. The back-end services, including Exchange Online, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, and Microsoft Teams, offer an easy migration path for organizations ready to move their on-premises servers to the cloud. Employees can access those services using familiar desktop apps like Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, or they can use web-based alternatives. This also includes Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Project and many other SKU that were available as desktop version and are now available on cloud as service.
Google on other hand has always been cloud native and positioned themselves as “Born in the Cloud”. The entire platform can be run using a browser as there are no desktop components available (other than file stream). This includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Sheets. When used with Google’s Chrome browser, those apps support offline storage of email and documents. Google has also introduced Google Meet and Google Chat (redesigned from its predecessor Hangout Meet and Hangout Chat) to complete with Microsoft Teams.
Both services, in addition to the above functionality, offer services like Mobile Device Management, Conditional Access Management, Data Loss Prevention and Multi Factor Authentication (the service availability may differ based on plans purchased). They also offer Single Sign On functionality to use their identity to login into other SAAS applications.
The two platforms offer intuitive and admin friendly web console with Microsoft also providing shell access to Microsoft 365 using PowerShell that allows administrators to do maintenance activity both via web or PowerShell.
Lets look at the product variants in detail for both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace.
Microsoft, just like its desktop variants and its licensing strategy has various permutations and combinations when it comes to Microsoft 365 Licensing plan.
- Microsoft 365 Family — One convenient subscription for up to 6 people. Includes premium Office apps, up to 6TB of cloud storage — 1 TB per person — and advanced security for all your devices
- Microsoft 365 Personal — One convenient subscription that includes AI-powered apps, 1 TB of cloud storage and advanced security for all your devices.
Small Business Segment
- Microsoft 365 Business Basic — Best for businesses that need easy remote solutions, with Microsoft Teams, secure cloud storage, and Office Online (desktop versions not included). This includes hosting an email with a 50 GB mailbox, Store and share files with 1 TB of OneDrive cloud storage and Host online meetings and video calls for up to 300 users with Microsoft Teams.
- Microsoft 365 Business Standard — Everything in Microsoft 365 Business Basic plus Best for businesses that need full remote work and collaboration tools including Microsoft Teams, secure cloud storage, business email, and premium Office applications across devices. Get fully installed and always up-to-date versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote for Windows or Mac (plus Access and Publisher for PC only) along with Install the Office apps on up to 5 PCs or Macs per user1
- Microsoft 365 Business Premium — Best for businesses that require secure, remote work solutions with everything included in Business Standard, plus advanced cyberthreat protection and device management. Configure security features and settings on Windows 10 PCs and mobile devices running iOS or Android® with an easy-to-use setup wizard as well as Help protect against sophisticated threats hidden in email attachments and links, and get cutting-edge defenses against zero-day threats, ransomware, and other advanced malware attempts with Microsoft Defender for Office 365
- Microsoft 365 Apps — Best for businesses that need Office apps across devices and cloud file storage. Business email and Microsoft Teams not included.
- Microsoft 365 E3 — Get best-in-class productivity apps combined with core security and compliance capabilities for your enterprise.
- Microsoft 365 E5 — Get best-in-class productivity apps and advanced security, compliance, voice and analytical capabilities for your enterprise.
- Microsoft 365 F3 — Formerly Microsoft 365 F1 Empower your Firstline workforce with productivity apps and cloud services that allow them to do their best work.
The above SKUs were designed keeping in mind differentiating between small business and enterprises to provide better pricing and flexibility. In addition to the above, there are separate SKUs that can be clubbed with lower SKUs like Enterprise Mobility + Security, Azure AD P1, Azure AD P2, Advance Threat Management, Intune License, etc. along with independent SKUs like Exchange Online Plan 1+, SharePoint Online Plan 1+, etc. to provide bare minimum functionality to users.
Google Workspace, on other hand has kept their SKU offerings simple as the offerings are much targeted towards small business and emerging enterprises.
Business Starter — Custom and secure business email, with 30 GB cloud storage per user and 100 participant video meetings.
Business Standard — Everything in Business Starter plus 2TB of Cloud Storage Space and 150 participant video meetings + recording.
Business Plus — Everything in Business Standard plan plus eDiscovery, retention, 250 participant video meetings + recording, attendance tracking, 5 TB cloud storage per user, and Enhanced security and management controls, including Vault and advanced endpoint management
Enterprise — Custom and secure business email + eDiscovery, retention, S/MIME encryption with 250 participant video meetings + recording, attendance tracking, noise cancellation, in-domain live streaming and As much storage as you need. Also includes, Advanced security, management, and compliance controls, including Vault, DLP, data regions, and enterprise endpoint management
Google has similar additional SKUs like Chrome Enterprise, Google Drive Plan, Cloud Identity Premium, Enterprise Voice, etc. to club with lower SKUs. At the outset, there is a vast difference in offerings between the two organizations but it is notable that there is only cloud edition available for G Suite offerings except Google Drive Sync which allows files to be available on your device
The pricing of Google Workspace Plan starts from USD 6 — USD 25 while the pricing of Microsoft 365 Plan starts from USD 5 — USD 57 simply because Microsoft allows you to combine different plans on a single subscription while Google has limited options available to combine multiple plans on a single subscription. The details of the Google Workspace Subscription is available here. And the details of Microsoft 365 Subscription is available here.
Depending upon the plan you choose, Microsoft 365 subscription at the minimum includes:
- Exchange Online email hosting with a maximum inbox size of 50 or 100GB
- Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook
- A minimum of 1TB of OneDrive for Business file storage per user
- SharePoint Online team sites
- HD video conferencing
- Online meetings (Skype Meeting Broadcast or Microsoft Teams live events)
- Secure messaging and collaboration (Microsoft Teams)
- Security and administrative controls
And for G Suite, All plans at the minimum include:
- Gmail for Business
- Meet (video and voice conferencing)
- Chat (secure messaging)
- Shared calendars
- Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides
- Keep (shared notes)
- Forms (survey builder)
- Sites (website builder)
- Currents (the replacement for Google+ for Google Workspace)
- At least 30GB of cloud file storage (Google Drive)
- Security and administrative controls
The following image depicts key comparison of workloads on Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. If you need a detailed comparison on workloads across different SKUs, I would be happy to provide those as well.
If your organization uses mixed array of desktop and laptop devices like Windows 10 and Mac that are company owned or BYOD(“Bring Your Own Device”), Microsoft 365 gives you tools to leverage your existing devices and even manage them remotely for security and compliance. On the other hand, if you are looking for a cloud only version of productivity suite, Google Workspace will be an ideal fit.
It may be overwhelming to decide which plan suits your business and your IT vision.
As a Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace Specialist I help several small business and enterprises choose the right product and the right plan for their business. If you are in process of evaluating or migrating to the above platform, please use the contact form and I would be happy to help you with the evaluation process.