When it comes to deciding on a cloud-based email provider, small-to-medium sized businesses have two primary choices – Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365. In talking with SMB owners or technology decision makers, we’ve found that many have pledged their allegiance to Google and don’t want to hear a pitch for Microsoft. Many are adamant that they have everything they need in the core offerings of Google Apps – Gmail, Docs/Drive, Hangouts, and Sites.
While these are undoubtedly solid offerings, they are more than individual products. How about comparing Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 in regard to the collective experience as a whole? By looking at the sum of their respective parts, many may find that Google Apps is actually limiting them to a degree. Here are a few examples
- Pricing – Google has a one-size fits all approach to pricing. This approach is contradictory to the biggest selling point of Cloud technology, which is to pay for what you use, just like your electric or gas utility bills. By comparison, Microsoft lets users pay for only what they need.
- Google Drive Lacks Efficiency with MS Office Files – While the Google Drive cloud storage app is fairly adept at handling native files, MS Office files are treated like the plague and must be downloaded, edited, and re-uploaded into the Google Drive. From there, expect to see formatting inconsistencies such as missing text boxes, images, graphics, watermarks, charts and more. In comparison, Microsoft provides more uniformity from document to document whether it’s sourced from a desktop version of Office or any web browser via the cloud.
- Google Hangout Is More for Friends than Business – Google Hangouts, Google’s video chat and group conferencing tool, is deeply rooted in their social network Google+. There is nothing inherently wrong with Google+ besides the fact that it’s still kind of new and lifeless in comparison to other social media sites. However, in order to participate in a Hangout, users must have a Google+ account. This means external users without any Google accounts are shut out of meetings. On top of that, Google Hangouts limits meetings to no more than ten participants.
By comparison, Microsoft Lync is all-inclusive and is even available to those on Google and Apple platforms. With the ability to include 250 meeting participants, Lync can even replace GoToMeeting for online conferencing.
As you can see, choosing a cloud-based email provider involves a lot more than determining who can best solve your email problems today. SMBs must also factor in which provider will best address their business document storage and unified communications the best tomorrow. In this regard, Microsoft Office 365 may have more of an "It" factor than Google which seems to have adopted an "our way or the highway" mentality and is less supportive of anything outside of the Google bubble.