Grudge Match 2: G Suite vs. Microsoft Office 365

5 Minute Read

Welcome back, fight fans! Tonight we have a battle royale. A match for dominance on the desktop as well as the cloud. These soaring titans of textual tyranny have the combined support of billions, from office managers to authors, accountants to salespeople, creatives to students. If you’ve ever touched finger to keyboard, you’ve got skin in this fight. The winner of this evening’s bout will have glorious tales written about them, using them. Don’t forget to set your out of office message, because the fight is about to begin! 

Let’s meet our contenders!

In this corner, we have the returning champion. It spent its first 16 years in the ring unchallenged, grabbing title after title due to friends in high places. Has it grown complacent, or is it adapting to its fresh-faced competition? It’s the tool you used because you had no other choice…it’s Office 365!

And in this corner, a young upstart with friends in even higher places. With its head in the cloud, does it have the muscle necessary to unseat its entrenched rival? Or will it be relegated to college students, hipsters, and other users who think “cool” is a feature? You used it because it was free and you had to eat…it’s G Suite!

Let’s get ready to rumble!

Round One: Applications

And there’s the first round bell! G Suite and Office 365 charge from the corners, confident that their offerings will put the smackdown on the other.

G Suite takes an early advantage as the first to bring could-based productivity apps to the general public. Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep, Drive, and more all operate flawlessly in the cloud, freeing businesses from the IT hassle of installing and updating local applications.

But Office dances off the blows with cloud versions of its venerable applications. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note, and OneDrive are all formidable web apps. The two contenders grapple with each other, unsure how to gain ground.

Then Office lands a powerful right cross that sends G Suite spinning back to its corner. The desktop versions of the classic Office applications are hands down the most feature-rich, functional pieces of software in the ring. They may cause your IT department headaches, but they are the superior choice for power users. Office presses this advantage to close the first round strongly, and the judges agree. Office 365 takes round one.

Round Two: Collaboration

G Suite emerges from its corner, a bit battered from the first round, but ready to fight back. Collaboration is, after all, one of its core design principles. 

The two fighters square off, each landing a blow occasionally, and fending off just as many. Both packages offer collaboration tools in their web applications. G Suite’s interface is more intuitive overall, but both perform admirably.

Office 365 begins chasing G Suite around the ring as it incorporates cross-collaboration between the desktop and web-based versions of its flagship programs. But it’s overconfidence shows, and G Suite catches a second wind due to the slow, and somewhat clunky nature of Office’s collaborative environment. 

G Suite was the first, and it’s still the best. Not by a wide margin, but by enough. It connects a few sharp blows and smacks the smile off of Office’s clip art collection. After careful consideration, the judges hand round two to G Suite.

Round Three: Ease of Use

As we head into round three, we’re dead even. G Suite rushes its opponent, confident that it’s stripped-down, streamlined interfaces significantly reduce the learning curve for new users. But Office counters with a suite of software that people have been using for years and is already familiar to the lion’s share of computer users.

The round gets ugly as body blows rain down on both opponents. G Suite is undoubtedly more user-friendly than the online Office applications. They feature faster performance and a more optimized user experience. But for long-time users of any of the core applications, Office 365’s familiar tool panels and menu configurations will be simple to navigate and will allow users far more options.

The ref has to pull the fighters apart repeatedly, each pressing their features effectively. In the end, the judges call the round a draw. Users that are familiar with the Office applications will find G Guite a bit alien; whereas, new users that don’t need advanced features will find G Suite apps well-adapted for out-of-the-box use.

Round Four: Cost

The crowd screams for actions as the bell ushers in round four. Both fighters are cut and bloodied, but neither can seem to press a significant advantage. Both are hopeful that their price points will gain them some ground.

G Suite has the advantage of simplicity. They offer three plans.

Basic: $6 per user per month

Business: $12 per user per month

Enterprise: $25 per user per month

Office 365 is tricker, with two plans and multiple tiers.

Small Business / SMEs

Office 365 Business Essentials: $5 per user per month

Office 365 Business: $8.25 per user per month

Office 365 Business Premium: $12.50 per user per month

Enterprise

Office 365 E1: $8 per user per month

Office 365 ProPlus: $12 per user per month

Office 365 E3: $20 per user per month

Office 365 E5: $35 per user per month

In pure cost terms, Office 365 has a slight advantage at the lower price points but loses ground when higher-priced packages are included.

However, a cost to value comparison is much more challenging to evaluate in a short round. Suffice to say that both packages offer fair value for the price, depending on what you’re looking for. Neither is a runaway winner.

The judges confer, and in a split decision, the round is a draw.

Round Five: Universal Support

Both fighters are stumbling equally as round five starts, and the crowd is beginning to walk out of the arena, but Office suddenly taps into its years of experience and begins pummeling G Suite in a vicious torrent that the newcomer finds challenging to ward off.

For most businesses, compatibility with the input and output that most clients and partners expect is crucial, and the world uses Office products. While you can edit a Word doc in Google Docs, you can’t be sure the formatting will translate properly, particularly for more advanced features. The same goes for Excel spreadsheets.

All other considerations aside, the fact that Office products are ubiquitous while G Suite products are only beginning to be adopted is a massive point in Office’s favor. It created the market. It owns the market. Therefore if you want to play in the market, you have to play ball with Office.

G Suite struggles against the relentless pounding from its opponent and barely avoids a knock out before the bell rings. Office 365 takes the round handily.

Judges Decision

After the showing in round five, the judges produce their final results without much discussion. The match goes to…

Office 365!

G Suite is an excellent software package with several useful enhancements, and its collaboration tools are tightly integrated.  But, it simply can’t stand against the tidal wave of established users that Office 365 products enjoy. Unless you’re a small business that doesn’t need to worry about tight interoperability with Office 365 users, G Suite will almost always cause you problems.

Additionally, businesses with a modest amount of churn will find onboarding much smoother using Office 365, as the majority of new employees will already be conversant with the software. G Suite may offer an easier learning curve, but most people already know Office 365 products, meaning there’s no learning curve at all.

Both offer collaboration tools and both offer cloud applications, but only Office 365 has full-featured desktop versions of their flagship products. For most businesses, Office 365 is the better choice.

Until next time, goodnight!

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