Although it’s unclear whether or not Google was thinking of directly challenging Microsoft and their Office 365 subscription services, this certainly seems to be how recent events are playing out. Clearly, Office 365 might be the better choice in terms of features and familiarity, but given that it is now priced well above Google’s packages in terms of annual costs, it’s extremely likely that many people will opt for the cheaper option. But before we start evaluating the pros and cons of each, let’s see what each option has to offer first.
Originally, Google was offering a basic plan for businesses utilizing their apps suite which was completely free. Well, needless to say, this is no longer the case; that option has been replaced by a plan which comes with a price tag of $50 per year. That basically breaks down into a monthly cost of $4.10 for some fairly substantial services, which is arguably the best price you’re going to find anywhere. Along with all the other apps and services included in the previously free package, this version of Google Apps also includes features like a beefed-up inbox and 24/7 customer support.
So, the question is, why did they get rid of the free package, right? As it turns out (according to Google’s own internal statistics), they discovered that most businesses tended to run out of breathing room with the free package rather quickly. Naturally, the best option was to simply build a better base offer, which of course, brings us to the most recent Google Apps packaged offering.
What makes Microsoft’s Office 365 so powerful is the fact that it not only brings some great cloud services to the table, it does so within the context of highly accessible file formats and so forth. In other words, although you can accomplish a great deal with Google Apps, the simple fact that they use file formats which are somewhat unfamiliar to most people might be a problem.
Likewise, Office 365 integrates cloud services into some of our favorite applications like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, along with the safety and security of features like automatic cloud back-ups. In a way, Office 365 is simply a more powerful version of Office which seeks to take advantage of the internet itself.
What’s the better choice?
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear, both Google Apps and Microsoft 365 are both superior services, each touting its own unique features and benefits, period. Anyone who claims that one or the other is offering lackluster, broken services is either on the payroll of one of the two organizations or doesn’t know what they’re talking about. The question is, if things get competitive (and they usually do), who’s going to emerge on top?
There’s really no point in guessing, we’ll soon find out; likewise, if the competition heats up, we might even see some subscription prices dropping or additional services being added (we can only hope). Certainly some users are going to be more productive while operating within the context of a familiar platform like Microsoft Office (even if it is a new version) though. Likewise, some individuals and groups will simply look at the available features and price tags and immediately opt for Google Apps. “To each their own”, I suppose…
Whether or not you feel that Google Apps or Office 365 is more your speed will be dependent on many individual factors. Perhaps businesses that like more accessible pricing and a wide range of features that support multiple users will opt for Google Apps? Additionally, maybe those who don’t mind paying a little extra and need more targeted features and the industry-wide compatibilities of Office 365 (and its file formats) will opt for the Microsoft option?
It’s just too difficult to call this “race” at this current point in time. Once again however, both companies are offering dynamite service packages and in truth, either of them would make an excellent choice for any business that’s looking to more toward cloud-based services.