Most businesses rely on either Google for Work (AKA Google Apps) or Microsoft Office to get the job done every day. With the launch of Microsoft Office 365, now both companies have offerings that allow you to work from any device and pay lower up-front costs with a month-to-month subscription plan.
Nexxtep offers and supports both Google for Work and Office 365 for our clients, and we are vendor neutral.
Nexxtep also uses both in-house, so we are familiar with both platforms from an end-user standpoint.
If you are thinking of moving your office applications to the Cloud, but aren’t sure which service is right for you, keep reading. I spoke with several Nexxtep-ers to get their input on a few key topics:
Account Manager Richard Baker thinks Google for Work has collaboration down to a science. “I prefer Google for Work simply because of one thing: collaboration. Google Drive allows multiple users to collaborate on the same document or spreadsheet so easily. Office 365 has finally caught up to Google in this area, but it isn’t quite as easy as Google for Work, especially on mobile devices."
Service Manager Robert McMichen agrees, and he likes that there is a “single file repository and sharing tool with Google Sites.”
If you are heavy users of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, Office 365 might be the best option for your organization. Robert notes, “Office 365 offers desktop versions of their software and you can access the same applications from a mobile device or web browser."
Your subscription includes access to the full suite of applications, which will save you a good chunk of change over having to buy individual licenses. Plus, you get free upgrades when new versions of the applications come out.
Google for Work offers a similar selection of apps (Docs, Spreadsheets, and Slides). Systems Engineer Philip Jones is not impressed: “It feels like a rebranded Open Office Program." (Open Office is free open-source office software that does not provide any kind of support.)
If you “live” in Outlook as so many of us desk workers do, you can sync Outlook with either service, although some of our engineers have seen some minor compatibility issues when synced with Google Mail.
On the other hand, if you prefer Gmail to Outlook and email is a high-priority tool, Google for Work might be your best fit. Google for Work’s email interface is practically identical to Gmail.
Both services offer access to their apps from a web browser and all the major mobile devices (Android, iOS, and Windows). Office 365 also offers desktop versions of their applications that you can download once you have subscribed.
Systems Engineer Gil Morris thinks that Google for Work has the edge when it comes to multi-device compatibility: "Google’s infrastructure has had A LOT more time to mature since they launched years ago. The integration with Apple, Microsoft, other software and OEM vendors is amazing. Most every device, regardless of manufacturer or OS, can run Google Apps and maintain a consistent experience across these devices. However, Office 365 has recently added support for iOS and certain versions of Android but from my experience the lack of consistency keeps me from using Office Mobile apps on my Android devices (lack of features, performance issues, etc. – the Outlook app really needs more work)."
Personal Note: It might not be so great on Android, but Outlook for iOS is the best email app I've come across. I even did a video review that you can watch here.
The cost comparison is apples to oranges. You are going to pay more each month for Office 365 than you would for Google for Work, but you also receive the added benefit of their robust desktop applications. Google for Work offers no desktop applications.
The Bottom Line
Here is the good news: No matter which service you choose, you are probably going to be happy with your upgrade to the Cloud.
Gil Morris: “It’s really a preference dictated by your needs. Google for Work and Office 365 get the job done and each brings their own limitations and capabilities."
Robert McMichen: “I’ve heard very few complaints about either service from clients."
Richard Baker: “Clients seem to like both equally."
Philip Jones: “It’s business as usual, except there’s no downtime or other issues to worry about!"