Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace?
Updated: Nov 10, 2021
During the last year, I have tried both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace for my organization and clients. Unlike other blogs that spend 3,000 words or use numerous points comparing the two, I will boil down my comparison to under 1,000 words and three points.
Spoiler: There is NOT a clear-cut winner between the two. Different people will have different preferences, which will dictate the decision.
All-in-one vs. Many of One
Microsoft is the better option if you prefer to have all (or ~75%) of your work apps within one platform for $12.50/month. Thanks to Microsoft Teams, Office 365, and Power Automate (formerly Microsoft Flow), you can handle nearly all your administrative tasks within these three platforms.
As for Google, their equivalent products (Sheets, Docs, Slides, Tasks, Chat) are lacking compared to Microsoft, especially for Note-Taking (Google Keep vs. OneNote) and Task Management (Google Tasks vs. Microsoft To-Do). For instance, for Google Keep, you can only take the equivalent of Sticky Notes, while in OneNote, you can have Sticky Notes, and take full-fledged meeting notes and create tasks that will directly hit your Microsoft To-Do lists (granted, you have to use the desktop version of OneNote, not OneNote for Windows 10).
However, Google plays much nicer with other apps (you can sign in to almost any productivity app with your Google login, unlike Microsoft). If you want more flexibility with software solutions, then Google is the better option. For instance, if you prefer Slack over Teams, then use Google 100%. If you prefer Notion over OneNote, then use Google.
Microsoft has a reputation for being super complex and hard to use, while Google takes the minimalist approach at the cost of fewer features. If you want the basics done well, then Google is the better option. However, if you want to spend a little effort to get more out of your productivity apps, Microsoft is the better option. For instance, Excel has better features, especially with formulas and analysis (i.e., Power Query, which has made my life incredibly easier). However, Google Sheets is better for simple collaboration.
Google Chat and Meet is not feature-rich compared to Microsoft Teams; however, it does not have the Skype stench underlying their solution (quick tangent: Microsoft botching Skype probably cost them ~$100 billion in their stock's market capitalization because Zoom's all-time high market cap is $160 billion).
Thankfully, many YouTube videos are available for those who want to self-teach the Microsoft ecosystem, which will speed up the learning process.
Let's face it; everyone spends too much time on email. Studies show we spend 28% of our workday on our email platform. Thanks to this sobering fact, whatever email platform you feel more comfortable with should determine your overall platform decision. And because Outlook vs. Gmail is a fiercer rivalry than Democrats vs. Republicans, I will not attempt to convince someone to jump ship.
Limiting notifications is easier with Gmail; however, you can have advanced notification control if you learn the advanced Outlook settings. Also, I believe that if you cannot avoid heavy email use AND you have high internal communication needs, Gmail is a better option because Google Chat is directly built-in; hence, you don't have to jump those multiple hoops to have a chat session with someone outside of your organization. Also, saving files directly in a specific folder is easier in Gmail than Outlook because you can designate a folder immediately in Gmail, while Outlook puts all saved attachments in a single OneDrive Folder.
Microsoft has turned Teams into its new flagship product, and they added a water-downed version of Teams to replace Skype for chatting with people outside your organization, provided your contact is using the platform, too.
The three factors influenced my decision in the following ways:
All-in-One vs. Many of One: If I have a critical process within my workflow, I prefer to use the best solution available. This is why I use Notion for my meeting notes and a knowledge database, LastPass for password management, Liscio for document management, Practice Ignition Practice Ignition for proposal generations, Prezi for presentation, Zapier for workflow automation, Calendly for scheduling, and Trello for a Kanban/Scrum board. Microsoft has a solution for each function I just listed; however, the listed applications provide a better experience.
Learning Curve: I love learning about new features and becoming a power user. For instance, I became an Excel and QuickBooks expert because I use those two platforms heavily. For Excel, I have watched countless videos, read numerous articles, and even took a certification test to master the software. Despite my deep knowledge, I still find cool features with the software, which is exciting. The same sensation is evident in Teams, as Microsoft has put an inordinate amount of features inside the platform that have impressed my clients and me. Having said all of that, I am a heavy Excel, OneDrive/SharePoint, To-Do, My Phone, and Teams user.
Email: Back in April, I tried fully going over from Google to Microsoft. A few friends gave me funny looks and warnings about Outlook; three weeks later, those concerns were 100% valid. I tried my absolute best to make Outlook work for me (both on the web and desktop), and I could not escape frustration. While there are some aspects that Outlook has an advantage (i.e., color coding based on To/CC and email urgency), it was not enough for me to stop my return to Gmail.
Currently, my philosophy is to balance the best of Microsoft and Google. In my next blog post, I will share the tools and tricks I deploy to get the best of both worlds.