Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365

There are several options for a good business productivity software suite, but two really stand out; Microsoft 365 (or Office 365) and Google Workspace (formerly G Suite). Microsoft 365 (or M365) is subscription-based and derived from Microsoft's tried-and-true software-based Office Suite. Microsoft Office, which includes software like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and others has been around for ages and Microsoft's Office Suite is the undisputed heavyweight champion with billions of users across the globe. Google Workspace started as Gmail and is by far the most popular email and productivity suite for personal use. Due to its popularity in the personal realm and education sectors, Workspace (formerly G Suite, formerly Google Apps) is very similar but specific to business/enterprise applications and has made great strides at chipping away at Microsoft's dominance in the business world. Cloud 9 Advisers has scoured dozens of other reviews, opinions, and sites to compile the following as a guide to help you make the right decision for your business and users.  

Furthermore, we strongly recommend that most organizations seek out competent, certified, and professional help no matter which platform you choose. Most organizations should not try this on their own (see more in our "extra note" at the end of the table below). At Cloud 9, we don't sell solutions, we facilitate decisions. All we do is diagnose and prescribe in order to help you identify the best vendors for your needs from our Supplier Portfolio. We will help you find the right solutions, the right providersand help you decide which is the right platform for you business. More importantly, we'll help decide on the best certified partner/reseller to choose whether you. decide on Microsoft or Google. 

Google WorkspaceMicrosoft Office 365
User Applications:
Word processingGoogle DocsMicrosoft Word (Desktop and Online)*
SpreadsheetGoogle SheetsMicrosoft Excel (Desktop and Online)*
PresentationsGoogle SlidesMicrosoft PowerPoint (Desktop and Online)*
EmailGmailMicrosoft Outlook (Desktop and Online)*
Digital notebookGoogle KeepMicrosoft OneNote
Web / Intranet / Team SitesGoogle SitesMicrosoft Sharepoint
Online MeetingsGoogle MeetMicrosoft Teams
Chat-based workspacesGoogle Spaces (formerly Currents)Microsoft Teams
Social media for companiesGoogle Spaces (formerly Google+)Microsoft Yammer
Cloud StorageGoogle DriveMicrosoft OneDrive
Publishing (design and layout)Publisher (PC only)
DatabaseGoogle DataStudio (formerly Looker)Access (PC only)
App DevelopmentAppSheets and/or AppScriptsPower Apps
Surveys / FormsForms

Not all Apps listed above are included with all plans from either party.
*Online versions of apps are somewhat limited compared to desktop versions

ProsYou get much more from Google with their first-level plan, making it ultimately less expensive. Plans are otherwise comparable and don't have a maximum user count, so if your business grows you may not have to change to an enterprise set of options right away.

G Suite, now Google Workspace, focuses on functionality, simplicity, and ease-of-use.

Very large ecosystem and community of developers for various add-ons and tools that seamlessly integrate with G Suite.

Basic plan comes with Google's world famous security, admin, and other Endpoint Management tools to protect business data on lost or stolen devices.

Gmail is widely used for personal use and is by far the most popular on the planet, which seems to have translated well into the business world. Gmail (for business) also has an Outlook sync tool for the diehard Microsoft fans.
Microsoft Office has been the reigning champion for decades—almost everyone in the business world has it, is familiar with it, and knows how to use it. And now with Office 365 (and the right plan selected) users can get the benefits of both cloud and desktop based versions. The newest version of Microsoft 365 start to include more and better management tools, and often include some additional and much needed security features.

Microsoft is often considered the standard bearer of many other business technologies as well. PC operating systems (Windows), server operating systems (Windows Server), Email (Outlook and Exchange), directory/domain (Active Directory), and many other IT related areas. These other IT areas and Microsoft's extremely large worldwide eco-system often make the decision easy and obvious--almost to the point where other solutions are not even considered.

Able to mix user plans to suit needs and budget
ConsWhile the products that come with Workspace, like the word processor (Docs) and spreadsheet (Sheets), can do many things that most users require on a routine basis, their Microsoft Office counterparts are considerably more sophisticated and mature and it could be highly frustrating for "power users" who are accustomed to Office. One possible and perhaps obvious area might be the finance team and spreadsheets.

Companies considering an overhaul switch to G Suite will likely require additional training. While still very familiar, G Suite is different and because of that it takes a little getting used to.

Not able to mix plan levels, all users are one plan or another. Not as much of an issue for end users. All users get the same apps on all plans. The difference in plans is more Admin feature and storage in Drive related.
There are numerous advanced features and tools that come with each of the individual software available in the higher-level packages of Office 365—to the point that it could be overwhelming and therefore grossly underutilized by most users. Any package that does contain software will also have several that may not be used at all. Businesses cannot pick and choose specific software needed for users; all or nothing. Many people (especially younger ones) use G Suite for personal use and are far more familiar and comfortable with it.

In an attempt to improve things, Microsoft tends to make occasional drastic changes to its software and user interface causing much frustration to diehard users (remember the ribbon).

There is not full parity between the online and desktop versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; very close, but there are some minor differences in features and layout. Although, this changes daily.
Best forOrganizations that need simple and easy-to-use applications and don't want to pay more for fancy features that will likely go unused. Better for companies seeking simplicity for it's staff and have few sophisticated or complex needs for its documents and spreadsheets. Businesses with a generally younger or slightly more savvy staff. 

Google Workspace is highly integrated and collaborative, and seems to run on an "open-source" concept. Also, companies that need flexibility in plan terms for growing (or shrinking) companies for example seasonal businesses.
Businesses that need and are willing to pay more for the features and familiarity of Microsoft Office, companies that need advanced features and capabilities found in software like Word or Excel in particular.
PrivacyGoogle has had some "bad press" in the past regarding it's personal and free Gmail plans: scans your mail and files to collect data and give you relevant ads. However, this is not the case with any of the paid business plans. Google has stated and seems to have followed through with it's commitment to privacy and security. Microsoft does not scan emails or documents for anything other than to protect against malware.
Security ComplianceFISMA, HIPAA, GDPR, ISO/IEC 27001, and SSAE 16FISMA, HIPAA, GDPR, ISO/IEC 27001, EU’s Data Protection Directive
Compatibility with the otherAny native Microsoft file can be opened and edited in it's comparable G Suite tool, then saved as the original file type or as a G Suite file type. However, since many of the more sophisticated features found in Office aren’t available in G Suite, complex formatting may not be preserved as well as it could or should. 

G Suite Sync allows you to use Outlook for your Google mail, calendar, and contacts.
G Suite files can be saved/downloaded as PDFs or in other various formats, so if you want to edit them in Office, it takes a few steps, but can be done. 
Mobile AppsiOS and AndroidiOS and Android
Payment plansSimple, straightforward pricing and plans. Flexible: you pay monthly for the service that you used during the previous month.Microsoft offers a dizzying array of options and SKUs, which can be a good thing for many businesses, but daunting and overwhelming for others. Different packages available for small/midsize vs. enterprise. For our purposes we've focused on the small/midsize plans. Maximum number of users for any small/mid plan is 300. Monthly payment options are more expensive per user. All advertised pricing is for annual pre-paid option. pay up front for the year, renew annually. No refunds or prorating.
CostWorkspace Basic: $6 /user/mo.
Workspace Business: $12 /user/mo.
Workspace Business Plus: $18 /user/mo.
Workspace Enterprise: $25 /user/mo.
O365 Essentials: $5 /user/mo. annual price
O365 Business: $8.25 /user/mo. annual price
O365 Premium: $12.50 /user/mo. annual price
Microsoft 365: $20 /user/mo. annual price
Plan optionsG Suite Basic: business email, calendar, word processor, spreadsheets, slides, notes, team sites, meetings, chat/messaging, forms, survey/forms, 30GB cloud storage, security, mobile mgmt, and admin controls
G Suite Business Plus: adds to above unlimited cloud storage, archiving, email retention, data loss protection, administrator-restricted search, control over data retention, legal holds, web-based data management, user activity audits
G Suite Enterprise: adds to above third-party archiving and integration tools, access control with security key enforcement, Gmail log analysis in BigQuery, identity management
Office 365 Business Essentials: business email, custom email domain address, web and mobile version of Outlook
Office 365 Business: business email, file storage and sharing, video conferencing, website, online calendars, data security and spam filtering, online and mobile versions of Microsoft Office (up to 300 users)
Office 365 Business Premium: Full desktop versions of Microsoft Office on up to 5 PCs or Macs per user, plus Office for tablets Office 365 Midsize Business: directory integration (and up to 300 users)
Microsoft 365: includes all of Premium and adds mobile device management and more security controls
Where to buyDirect from Google or from Google Workspace and Cloud Partners. Most Premier Google Partners will also include an added layer of support and services. Nearly all Google Partners will sell the G Suite user licenses at the same price and include support for free. Additional professional services (e.g. domain, directory, identity, print, security, file share, drives, change management, training, etc.) are critically important if considering going "whole-hog". 

Cloud 9 doesn't sell anything, but we can help you find and evaluate the right Google partner.
Contact us now.
Direct from Microsoft, Cloud Service Providers (CSP), distributors, resellers, Managed IT providers, Managed Service Providers (MSP). Smaller companies should strongly consider purchasing Microsoft through a certified CSP or distributor that can make Microsoft's licensing easier and provide and extra layer of help and support if ever needed, then have a qualified third-party provider administer and manage the Microsoft tenant. 

Cloud 9 doesn't sell anything, but we can help you find and evaluate the right Microsoft partner. Contact us now.
Offline usageDocs, Sheets, and Slides can be enabled for offline use in Chrome and there is an add-on for Chrome to enable offline Gmail usageOffline editing is supported for all Office Web Apps, and the higher two plans of Office 365 include the desktop versions that can always be accessed offline
Cloud storageGoogle Drive; G Suite Basic, 30GB, individual user upgrades available

 Business Plus and Enterprise, unlimited storage

Google Drive limits include Gmail. G Suite file types (Docs, Sheets, Slides, etc.) do not count towards storage limit
OneDrive—1 TB total per user

Email is separate from OneDrive and capped at 50GB total per user
Adding usersUsers can be added at any timeUsers can be added at any time as long as you don't exceed the user limit for your plan
What happens when you cancel?Data is deleted upon cancelation, but is recoverable for up to 30-days. You are only billed for the user accounts you use each month unless on an annual plan.Once you cancel, your administrator will have access to any data for 90 days. 
Support24/7 chat/web, phone, and email. Google Partners would have their own, additional resourcesWeb and 24/7 phone. Microsoft Partners would have their own, additional resources
Two-step authenticationYesYes
Does Mac vs. PC matter?Nope! Everything is web based and it works with all browsers, although users will get a better experience and more features using Google Chrome. Since the only thing you're downloading to your PC or Mac computer is Google Drive (it's now called Google Drive for Desktop) to sync files, it doesn't matter if you use a Mac or a PC.Yes, if you have a plan that includes desktop software—some applications, such as Access and Publisher, are only available on PCs and others, like Skype and OneNote, need to be downloaded separately. For full info, go to Microsoft’s website.
In summaryWhen it comes to business productivity software, Google provides organizations with a less expensive but highly capable and competitive alternative to the industry standard, Microsoft. Some call it elegantly simple and easy to use. Others find it lacking the complex and sophisticated features they demand. Overall, many have found it sufficient for the majority of their user-base. Some have gone as far as combining the two: G Suite for all users, then added a small handful of Microsoft Office for the fewer users that still require it. Microsoft Office is still the gold standard for business productivity software. The old saying, "no one ever got fired for buying ____" certainly applies here. Office 365 is going to be the "play it safe move". However, It is more expensive overall and all the features of each software may not be necessary or even used by most business users, but for those few that do need sophisticated documents and spreadsheets it’s the best option. Microsoft certainly has a much larger business-centric ecosystem and partner base as well. 

An extra noteUnless your a giant enterprise with ample resources, don't do it alone. No matter which one you pick, we strongly recommend purchasing through a qualified, certified partner. These partners will guide you through the myriad details, help decipher what's included and what is not, and give you a clear understanding of where gaps may be and how to fill them. Many partners include, for free, additional services and support for the same license price as you would get from Google or Microsoft directly.

There will inevitably be additional services you'll need during and post-migration that most of these partners can provide. Seek out several Cloud Service Partners and evaluate them thoroughly to help you implement, migrate, train, and support you through this journey. Cloud 9 Advisers is here to help you find the right Cloud Solutions Providers (CSP) for this and many other solutions. Our curated Supplier Portfolio has hundreds participating member companies.

If you're still trying to decide between the two, contact Cloud 9 Advisers for unbiased, vendor-agnostic help with experience in both Google and Microsoft. While this chart is a helpful guide there are many fine nuances specific to your industry and individual business to consider before pulling the trigger.