Unless you work in the tech industry, or in IT, you may not always understand these kinds of techno-pugilist-endeavors. Nothing wrong with that. Most consumers think of the world as Apple vs. PC…when in the business world that isn’t really so. Apple makes consumer hardware that some folks use at work, while the App software created for that hardware really drives everything. In this case of Microsoft vs. Google…they provide the Apps that drive our working lives. FAR more important than simple hardware, mind you.
Simpler than hardware? You bet your braying donkey it is. These applications transcend simple operating systems and hardware, thanks to both Google and Microsoft understanding that early on. The hearts and minds are not won based on shiny doo-dads, but in the applications you use every day.
Like many of you, I use Microsoft and Google pretty much all day most days for different things. Gmail and Hangouts at home for things, and Microsoft for nearly everything at work. That seems to be the norm across the board…but Google wants in on this and has been making inroads into the space over the past couple years. Microsoft being the juggernaut they are was slow to start, and Office 365 in 2011 is NOT the Office 365 of 2014. Google wholeheartedly won rounds one and two of this fight, but now, to quote Woody Leonhard at Inforworld… (This is just a great fair review from earlier this year.)
“Office 365 has turned into an 800-pound gorilla, with loads of new features and new options. Back then (2011), Office 365 seemed like a cobbled-together mélange of Office 2000 and Exchange Server, with a few goodies tacked on the side. Now it’s richer, smoother, more tightly integrated…”
Where I think you win if you buy into either product is getting the heck off of your own Exchange server. Stop managing your own email…it wastes your time and keeps you and the rest of your IT department from managing better projects. Microsoft has a 99.9% email uptime that’s financially guaranteed. Google has it exactly the same, but I’ve heard from clients/friends nightmares about their lack of customer service. (Whereas Microsoft is utilizing local people in the US for all of their CS, and it’s never a long wait.)
Now, I’m not going to break down the features of each product. Chances are if you’re reading this, you already know what you are looking for and need a nudge in the right direction. So here’s my analysis of each product:
Google Apps for Work:
This is for organizations that are not happy with Microsoft, and do not mind a leaner office-type product. For the heavier users of Office in your organization, you will likely still need some MS Office purchases, because Google Sheets isn’t as indepth of a product. (I find their pivot tables to be a real pain, to the point where I just tell folks, they can’t do them right.) Be advised the Google Apps for work is just like a regular Google account, only you’re paying for unlimited storage ($120 a year/per person/min 5 people) and to be able to manage those accounts under your own umbrella…otherwise there’s zero difference between paying for accounts and using them for free. Hangouts is an amazing tool, and far surpasses the hefty Lync in being a collaboration tool. Prices are similar, but in reality you get less for your dollar spent than you do on their competitor.
Final Analysis: As I was told by a Google employee, “Microsoft doesn’t innovate, but we do.” I find statements like that to be haughty, and empty. Good for you that you made something useful for some, but it’s not replacing what the standard has been unless you’re changing the game. You’ve just made a new way to play the game, not change it entirely. This is software for businesses that have 1-100 users tops, or again for those who do not like Microsoft. (Oh yes, and remember to turn off email scanning by Google, so they’re not scanning your company email. Supposedly this comes turned off, but I’ve been told otherwise.)
Office 365 (2014)
If your users will not be affected by a move to Google Apps, and you’re happy with Microsoft, then 365 is the product for you. Personally I’m a little annoyed with Lync, but I think that comes more from a lack of training on the product, than the product itself…and it trails behind Google. To compete against Google’s “we have two skus and that’s all, and you’ll have to fit” methodology, Microsoft has a program that is specific to your needs. From Office 365 Essentials (basics for mobility, but still more robust than Google Apps), to full on Pro versions of the software that can be downloaded and run on multiple machines. The downside is that Office 365 is the explicit opposite of simple. The controls are deeper and more intricate than Google, but provide a lot of value if you’re ready to jump into the deep, choppy end of the pool.
Final Analysis: Microsoft isn’t going to be left behind in the war for the Apps you use at work. They’ve been in the game longer than some of my co-workers have been alive, and still know it well. Office 365 has come a long way in the last 3 years, and now outshines Google Apps in many ways. Get off of Exchange TODAY. 🙂 Microsoft might not be the Innovator that Google claims to be, but they did take their time getting there and have a better overall product in many ways. Personally, Getting it Right trumps innovation any day.
Lastly, I was just reminded by a coworker to address the fears about “cloud” computing. I think many of us now understand that Cloud computing is the wave of the future, and is going to save your organization a lot of money should you choose to embrace it. From allowing employees to collaborate on documents without having to email them, to having access to documents wherever you have internet, to inherent Disaster Recovery…using a Cloud to store your users’ data is very cost effective. If you aren’t sure still, talk to me…I’ll introduce you to experts from any manufacturer we work with who’ll show you how safe it actually is…clients who have moved to Cloud Disaster Recovery and are excited about it.
Who’s the winner? Me, I’ll pick Microsoft to win overall if they keep going the way they’re going. Minimalist settings aren’t for all offices.
Have a great day!
Edit: Update….for those of you who didn’t hear… Microsoft is offering unlimited Cloud Storage to all Office 365 customers. o.O