Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365: Which Office Suite Is Best in 2023?
This article is part of a larger series on Business Email.
Choosing between Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365 is challenging, as both offer comparable office software and pricing. Google Workspace is used by more U.S. businesses for its easy-to-use tools that facilitate real-time collaboration in today’s work-from-anywhere world. But don’t count Microsoft 365 out—its apps are more robust for those wanting to increase productivity at scale through automation and its advanced tools.
- Google Workspace (formerly G Suite): Best for small businesses that want to easily collaborate with stakeholders. Good for international businesses wanting native translation tools with distributed or remote-hybrid teams.
- Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365): Best for companies that want apps with advanced features, administrative controls, higher storage, and security.
Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace Deciding Factors
Starting Cost per User (Monthly)
Google Drive: 30GB - 5TB
Gmail: 30GB storage
Outlook: 50GB storage
Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides
MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
Webinars & Video Conferencing
Google Meet: 100-500 participants
Microsoft Teams: 300 participants
Chat, Forms, Sites, Keep, Current
Publisher, Access, Bookings, Forms, Planner, Lists, Exchange, SharePoint, Azure, Intune
Pros & Cons of Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365
|Low cost of $6 per user to start includes all features and apps||Can’t manage other users’ calendars|
|Very beginner-friendly||Lacks advanced security features, like device management and the ability to wipe devices remotely|
|Teams can collaborate on documents simultaneously||No desktop apps (must have access to a browser)|
|Documents save as you work on them (no need to hit “Save” manually to preserve your work)||No graphic editing tools or even the ability to “save as picture”|
|Work from anywhere on browser-based apps; if offline, keep working and changes will sync later||Lower storage in base tier than MS365 and lower video participant caps in first and second plans|
|Tons of third-party integrations plus an app marketplace for one-click installs||Missing apps like Access, Publisher, and Bookings included with Microsoft’s office suite|
|Initiate calls and chats from Gmail|
|Colleagues tagged in documents automatically get email alerts|
|Integrates easily with Slack for additional collaboration benefits|
|Low cost of $6 per user to start||Can’t collaborate on office documents, spreadsheets, or presentations in real time, unlike with Google Workspace|
|Higher storage in base tier plan than Google Workspace||Video participant limit capped at 300; Google Workspace provides 500 in its two highest plans|
|Base tier allows for 300 participants vs 100 with Google Workspace||Sheer number of advanced features available makes it less beginner-friendly and intuitive than Google’s apps|
|Robust webinar features||Unless synced to OneDrive, documents require manual saving (the risk of losing your work)|
|Ability to work offline and sync with browser-based apps||Chat and video calls can’t be launched from Outlook like you can with Gmail|
|Advanced business email, security, cyberthreat protection, and more features in apps overall|
|App marketplace plus thousands more integrations|
Still undecided? Each section below offers more in-depth information about Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace to help you choose.
Cost Winner: It Depends
Google Workspace plans start at $6 per user, per month, as do those of Microsoft 365. However, the two base plans are not totally comparable. Microsoft includes more storage (1TB) in the lowest-plan tier compared to Google (30GB) and higher video conferencing limits (300 participants vs 100 with the Google office suite). As far as the base tier goes, the edge for affordability goes to Microsoft for higher inclusions.
Both providers have mobile and web-based productivity apps, but Workspace users can access all the base tier’s features. Microsoft 365 users need to upgrade to get desktop apps with all available features—though admittedly, these include advanced features across nearly all apps that aren’t available with Google Workspace.
In all but the base plan, Workspace offers slightly lower prices for comparable plans and apps and twice the storage (although MS365’s office suite comes with more apps overall in upper tiers). Also, Workspace plans are all month-to-month, whereas Microsoft’s office suite subscriptions are billed monthly with an annual commitment. All things considered, we decided Google Workspace wins the battle regarding cost in upper-tier plans.
Google Workspace Monthly Cost per User
- Business Starter: $6 standard pricing for business email, 30GB of cloud storage, and Google’s suite of office apps: Gmail, Drive, Calendar, Chat, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Keep Sites, Forms, and Meet with 100 participant video conferencing
- Business Standard: $12 to add cloud search, 2TB of storage, increase video participants to 150 and the ability to record, and archiving vault
- Business Plus: $18 to add enhanced security (Vault and endpoint management), eDiscovery, and retention, increase storage to 5TB per user, and hold video calls with up to 500 participants, including attendance tracking
- Enterprise: Get S/MIME encryption, improved video conferencing with noise cancellation and livestreaming, unlimited storage, and enhanced support and security
- Free trial: 14 days
Microsoft 365 Monthly Cost per User
- Business Basic: $6 for 1TB of cloud storage, OneDrive, 300 participant video conferencing, and web and mobile versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, as well as Microsoft Teams, Exchange, SharePoint, Bookings, Planner, Forms, and Lists
- Apps for business: $8.25 for desktop-installable apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, and Outlook, 1TB of cloud storage, standard security, and 24/7 phone and web support
- Business Standard: $12.50 to add desktop versions with premium features, webinar features like attendee registration and reporting, and additional apps Access and Publisher
- Business Premium: $22 to get advanced cyberthreat, phishing, and ransomware protection, device management and security, and premium administrative, information technology, and additional apps Azure Information Protection and Intune
- Free trial: 30 days
Takeaway: Both of these office productivity suite powerhouses offer similar apps and plan features for about the same price with a cost low enough that both made our list of the best cheap email hosting providers. The best choice for your small business comes down to which apps you want to use, how your team works, and what you want to spend.
Choose Google Workspace if your team needs to collaborate on documents and presentations or you want the best software for a distributed or hybrid workforce. Alternatively, Microsoft 365 is better if you need sophisticated features in office apps, want apps Workspace lacks (like Publisher or Access), or want more advanced business email tools and security.
Plan Features Winner: It Depends
Both of these software titans offer similar features, including cloud storage, business email, and mobile apps. The biggest difference between the two is that Google’s cloud-based ecosphere is built for collaborative teams, whereas Microsoft users get more apps and features, plus more administrative controls.
Google Workspace Plans at a Glance
Cloud-based File Storage
Email on Your Domain
Web & Mobile Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Chat, Keep, Sites, Forms
24/7 Standard Support
Video & Voice Conferencing
Enhanced Security, eDiscovery & Retention
Microsoft 365 Plans at a Glance
Apps for Business
OneDrive Cloud Storage
Email on Your Domain
Web & Mobile Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint
Bookings, Forms, Lists, Planner, Exchange & SharePoint
Desktop Apps, Plus Publisher & Access
Advanced Security & Compliance
Online Appointment Scheduling & Management
Advanced Protection for Cyberthreats, Phishing & Ransomware
Business-class Email & Shared Calendaring
Video Conferencing Up to 300 Participants
Takeaway: For straightforward, all-inclusive plans, choose Google Workspace. For advanced security, higher participant limits, more video conferencing features in the base tier, and more full-featured office software and business email, Microsoft 365 is the better choice.
Ease of Use Winner: Google Workspace
Both Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 have the benefit of feeling familiar to most users. Google Workspace comes with Gmail’s familiar look and feel, while Microsoft 365 builds on the office software many business users have known for years.
If you’ve never used either, Google Workspace may be less intimidating and more intuitive. To some degree, this is because, for the most part, its features aren’t as advanced as those of Microsoft 365. However, for many small businesses, its features are more than enough.
Ease of Use: Google Workspace
Google typically chooses function over form, which sometimes means its design isn’t quite as pleasing to the eye as Microsoft’s applications. However, the positive trade-off is that Google Workspace’s features work seamlessly behind the scenes.
For example, documents created in Google Docs are automatically saved in your Google Drive. You don’t even have to name a document first. It also constantly autosaves your work in the background, so your files are always updated. Microsoft users can also autosave documents, which requires first saving them to a synced folder or the user’s OneDrive file.
Google Workspace also tends to focus on the core activities that users need most, so it doesn’t suffer from feature bloat as much as Microsoft 365. As such, Google Workspace apps don’t have some of the advanced features you’ll find in Microsoft’s office suite, like the ability to save images as pictures and basic graphic editing tools.
Ease of Use: Microsoft 365
Microsoft Office (now 365) has the benefit of a longer history, which is perhaps why it tends to try to be everything to everyone. Microsoft packs in every feature it can think of, sometimes at the expense of the user experience—although heavy users may appreciate this aspect. It’s also really easy to integrate other apps into Microsoft menus, making for a cluttered (and thus confusing) interface.
The browser and mobile app versions, on the other hand, are simpler in design and focus more on putting the most important tools within reach. With that said, heavy users may prefer the more feature-rich desktop versions of Microsoft apps for the same reason.
Takeaway: Regarding ease of use, it boils down to familiarity. If you and your employees are more familiar with the user interface of one of these solutions over the other, that’s probably the best investment to make. However, if Google and Microsoft apps are both unfamiliar, Google Workspace has a lower learning curve than Microsoft 365.
Business Email Winner: Microsoft 365
There’s no question that Gmail and Outlook are the two top business email providers available today. Both make it easy to set up email on your domain and integrate seamlessly with other office productivity apps so you can communicate, collaborate, and share documents from any software application. However, Microsoft 365 and Outlook are far more full-featured, giving them the edge for business email use.
Outlook Business Email
Outlook, Microsoft 365’s business email client, has a send limit of 5,000 per day and a 50GB storage limit (higher than the 30GB with Gmail). This limit is separate from your overall cloud storage, which means your email attachments aren’t taking up space in OneDrive. On the other hand, if email storage space is important, unlike Google Workspace, you also can’t tap into your full cloud storage (1TB) for email.
It’s easy to set up Microsoft business email on your domain with Outlook and to sync and manage emails on multiple devices. You can also import other email addresses into Outlook to manage everything from one app. Where Microsoft 365 truly shines, though, is in its email feature set.
The combination of robust Outlook features and Microsoft’s security beat out Gmail and Google. Outlook has advanced email handling and routing rules, time-saving automations, the ability to create reusable templates and “Quick Parts,” and more third-party integrations.
Microsoft 365’s Outlook business email is also better for larger organizations. It allows for advanced user permissions, which is essential if you have administrative personnel managing multiple calendars or need to manage conference room bookings.
Gmail Business Email
Google users get 30GB of mailbox storage and can easily set up Gmail for business email on a custom domain and import other email addresses to manage everything in one place. Gmail allows attachments up to 25MB, though you can share files larger than that directly from Google Drive. You can send up to 2,000 emails per day and receive over 86,000 daily.
While we gave the win to Outlook, Gmail has some pretty impressive features for business email too. Translation features are native, making it easy to do business across borders. The interface is also less cluttered and offers essential features like the ability to create a professional email signature and set up basic mail handling rules.
Collaboration and communication are also easy with Gmail, as you can launch a Chat, Meet, or Space right from the menu. Learn more about the email features that matter most for business users in our list of Gmail tips and tricks.
If you’re looking for specific email functionality or want more information to help you decide, read our Gmail vs Outlook review.
Takeaway: Microsoft 365’s Outlook is the clear winner when it comes to business email. It’s more full-featured for small business users and provides more mailbox storage.
Office Productivity Suite Winner: Microsoft 365
Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 software suites have apps for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. Both offer browser-based versions, as well as iOS and Android apps.
Both allow users to work offline and sync changes later—although Google Workspace saves your work in real time, whereas Microsoft 365 users could risk losing some work if they don’t first save a document to OneDrive or a OneDrive-synced folder on their device.
However, Microsoft 365 office suite users can subscribe to the Business Standard, Apps for Business, or Premium plan to get desktop versions of apps and the advanced features that come with them. In addition, Microsoft 365 includes apps Google doesn’t, like Bookings for appointment setting, Publisher to create marketing materials, the database and data visualization tools that come with Access, and in the Premium tier, Azure Information Protection and Intune.
Microsoft also has basic graphic editing tools lacking in Google Workspace. For example, you can paste an image or graphic into a Microsoft app, right click, and then save it as a picture on your device. PowerPoint has more advanced graphic editing tools, and with all but Business Basic, Publisher offers additional graphic design and editing tools that Workspace apps don’t have.
But the argument isn’t totally one-sided. A big advantage for Google Workspace users on collaborative teams is the ability to collaborate on documents simultaneously. Microsoft 365 users can’t do this, so it’s something to keep in mind when choosing between Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365 office productivity software suites.
Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint
Microsoft 365’s office apps, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, are available as desktop software, browser-based apps, and mobile apps. Like Google Workspace, new documents, changes, and edits made offline are automatically saved and synced to the cloud (for files and folders syncing to OneDrive) once you’re back online.
As with Outlook, comparing Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365 isn’t apples to apples. Workspace has a simpler interface, whereas Microsoft apps have advanced features, such as integrations and automations, which are not as readily available with Google’s apps. There are also many more templates available to Microsoft office users since the software has been around for so long.
Google Docs, Sheets & Slides
All of Google Workspace’s apps for document creation, Docs, Sheets, and Slides, are browser-based with mobile app versions. This means all Google users can access all the apps and features available, regardless of plan tier. However, there are no true desktop versions, so you generally need to be connected to the internet to create and edit files.
With Google Workspace apps, you can mark files for offline access. This enables you to continue working on a file even if you lose your internet connection. Your changes are then automatically updated the next time you connect to the internet. Another advantage of using Google Workspace on desktop devices is that because the software is cloud-based, it doesn’t have the constant updates that Microsoft 365’s desktop apps require.
Takeaway: Microsoft 365 has the edge over Google Workspace in the apps department simply due to how much is available to users regarding templates and advanced niche features, like charts and image editing. However, those prizing ease of use may prefer the cloud-based apps Google offers, especially since all features can be used on desktop devices, so that users enjoy all features available, regardless of plan tier.
Collaboration Tools Winner: Google Workspace
Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 are both built around team collaboration and include great tools for video conferencing, team live chat, and easy document sharing. However, Workspace wins as multiple people can collaborate and work on the same document, spreadsheet, or slide deck simultaneously.
Collaboration on Google Workspace
In addition to working on projects simultaneously, from anywhere, Workspace users can do so without having to save files, email links to each other, and keep track of versions. Revisions happen in real time while allowing you to see what changes have been made and accept or reject them.
You can even set permissions so that only specific people can edit documents, leave comments on them, or view them. In addition to team collaboration, this also facilitates secure sharing with outside parties, such as sending a proposal to a client that allows them to view and comment, but not edit, the document.
Collaboration on Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365’s collaboration advantage lies in its widespread use throughout the business world. Sales agents and teams can send a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation to clients outside the organization with the confidence they can be opened and read at the other end.
It also offers more advanced features than Google Workspace, such as built-in artificial intelligence (AI) services to help users create more polished documents. Microsoft users also enjoy higher video conferencing limits in lower tiers, with 300 participants compared to 100 or 150 on the first two Google Workspace tiers.
As with Workspace, Microsoft 365 users can set document permissions to protect files. However, they don’t allow other users to add comments (view or edit only), which limits collaboration within documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other projects. Also, to be shared, files must first be uploaded to OneDrive (or saved to a file that syncs to the user’s OneDrive).
Takeaway: We’re calling this one in favor of Google Workspace, especially in light of today’s distributed and remote-hybrid workforce needs. Companies that work closely together on in-house projects will find Google Workspace the best option to get the job done, hands down. Likewise, sales-oriented companies often find it easier to share presentations and proposals with prospective clients using Google Workspace.
However, business users who frequently collaborate with people outside their organization benefit from Microsoft 365’s prevalent use in the business world. Also, those needing higher video conferencing limits in lower plan tiers may prefer Microsoft 365 vs Google Workspace, as will those in larger organizations who need to grant admins the ability to manage multiple calendars.
Customer Service: It’s a Tie
Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 offer 24/7 phone and web support to business plan subscribers. Each also offers access to robust self-help knowledge libraries and community support forums. Google and Microsoft both cater to businesses, and their customer service for these types of users is excellent.
Google Workspace administrators have access to 24/7 phone, email, and chat support in 14 languages. For users, support is available through Google Help, their online knowledge base for self-help. Google is known for having helpful support agents and resolving issues quickly when you need a real person.
Microsoft 365 also provides live phone and email support to business customers. In addition, Microsoft has extensive training materials, including self-help guides, how-to videos, and a searchable knowledge base. Microsoft is known for paying attention to its business customers, and Microsoft 365 support is no different.
Takeaway: When it comes to deciding which company provides better customer service, it’s too close to call. Both have support teams available by phone and online around the clock, and also offer self-help documentation so users can troubleshoot issues themselves. In the customer service arena, the winner is a draw.
Customer Reviews of Google vs Microsoft Office Suites
The most commonly mentioned reason users love Google Workspace is the ease of collaboration and how intuitive the software is to use. Customers also say they enjoy how tightly integrated everything is, and how they can work anywhere and still have access to all of their files. One negative review said that the admin panel is less straightforward than it could be, and sometimes hard to navigate.
Microsoft 365 customers say that because the software is so widely used, it’s easy to create, share, and open documents created by other businesses or customers. They also like the advanced features found in the apps, like real-time editing suggestions. However, one area that users review negatively is the amount of space (memory) the Microsoft 365 desktop apps take up on desktop computers.
Takeaway: Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 each have loyal fans and followings, which are borne out by generally positive online customer reviews.
How We Evaluated Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365
In terms of Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365 (formerly G suite vs Office 365), both are full-featured office productivity suites with the tools your small business needs. Each has solid, reliable solutions for the things you and your team do on a daily basis, like email, cloud storage, communication, and creating and sharing different types of documents.
To determine which is better for small businesses, we evaluated Google vs Microsoft office productivity software suites based on the following:
- Cost (and value for the money)
- Ease of use
- Browser-based functionality
- Productivity suite features
- Collaboration tools
- Administrative controls and security
- Customer support and reviews
- Extensive firsthand experience using both software suites in real-world workplace settings
Given all of the information above and our own expertise using the software, we can’t make a blanket statement about which is best for small businesses. We outline the top reasons to choose each below.
When to Use Google Workspace
Go with Google Workspace if your team needs to be able to collaborate heavily on documents and projects. Its cloud-based software is ideal for today’s distributed and hybrid-remote work environments and collaborative teams.
Another reason to choose Google Workspace is its ease of use. Your team will save time learning and using the software without navigating through complex menus to find the basic tools they need to produce professional documents and communicate internally and externally via chat and video meeting apps.
When to Use Microsoft 365
Microsoft 365 is the best option for businesses that frequently collaborate with people outside the organization and for larger operations prizing admin controls. Its apps have more advanced features, security, premade templates, and more video conferencing capacity in the first two plan tiers. Microsoft 365 is also better for teams wanting to save time with automated workflows and companies needing a higher level of security, such as HIPAA compliance.
Best Alternative to Microsoft Office vs Google Suite: Zoho Workplace
Zoho Workplace is a cloud-based suite of apps with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, and email client, along with chat and video calling tools. Paid plans range with tools comparable to Google and Microsoft office suites that cost $3 or $6 per user, monthly. It’s an affordable alternative, and it also integrates tightly with Zoho’s comprehensive customer relationship management (CRM) system and other native apps.
Choosing between Google Workspace vs Microsoft 365 comes down to the features and capabilities that are most important for your businesses. For the easiest document collaboration and the ability to create and access all of your documents wherever you work, Google Workspace is best. If your business needs advanced features and security, then Microsoft 365’s office productivity and business email apps are better for your small business.