Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365

Written by Zach DeMeyer on October 18, 2020

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Both Google® and Microsoft® recently underwent significant name changes for their productivity suites: Microsoft Office 365™ is now Microsoft 365™ and G Suite™ is now called Google Workspace™. Although subtle, these name changes are anything but when it comes to their desired outcomes. Google Workspace versus Microsoft 365 is a heavyweight battle to own your organization’s productivity platforms. This blog will cover their differences and help you decide how to best manage identities for each solution.

The Tale of the Tape

Before we get into the differences of the platforms, let’s spend a moment talking about how these platforms have evolved. Microsoft Office, of course, was originally an on-premises productivity suite, and one of the flagship products that boosted Microsoft into the IT industry limelight.

Although that portion of the platform still exists through native applications on Windows®, Mac®, iOS®, and Android®, Microsoft has also shifted Office to the cloud, first as Office 365, and now Microsoft 365. With Microsoft 365, organizations can use the cloud for document editing, email, file storage, collaboration, and much more.

Google Apps was first introduced as a cloud productivity platform, and was rebranded to be G Suite. Now called Google Workspace, the solution’s forte has always been its cloud-first, cloud-centric approach. Regardless of name, Google Workspace provides collaboration and sharing of documents that’s easy and nearly frictionless for organizations and their employees.

Ultimately, both platforms are similar, but there are key differences as well. Microsoft’s depth in all of the major application areas is unparalleled. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all provide best-in-class functionality and, for power users, there’s no alternative. With Microsoft 365, many Office features can be leveraged from the cloud, but users find that the native device applications prove hard to let go of, so collaboration and cloud storage features can be easily accessed from those on-device applications. For many senior leaders and those on the go, Microsoft solutions are often the right choice.

On the other hand, there’s no doubt that Google Workspace has done well with cloud-forward organizations — especially those that rely heavily on other web applications. These organizations often do not need the bells and whistles that Microsoft 365 developed over two decades of innovating the Office suite. Instead, they value cloud access, off-premises storage, and easy collaboration. Many of these use cases are less complex, but perhaps involve wider collaboration across an organization — and outside of it as well.

Evolving Productivity Suites in a Remote Work World

More recently, the tech giants each added features in response to the sudden shift to remote work, and the battle has heated up. For example, Google leaned into its Google Meet video conferencing solution, with some estimates claiming Google Meet usage increased tenfold or more in just a few months due to the pandemic. Additionally, Google has worked on improving security solutions for devices, the Cloud Identity service, data leak protection, and others.

Similarly, Microsoft heavily invested in the Teams communication platform and has also seen a massive increase in usage. Microsoft has also made significant investments in administrative tools and solutions including Azure® Active Directory® (the user management solution for Azure and web application single sign-on tool), Intune® (mobile device management), and more. These tools are designed to engage admins and enable them to do much more on their respective platforms, and, of course, tie them into those platforms further.

Microsoft and Google’s End Goal

Google and Microsoft’s expansion into these various areas ultimately serves one goal: both Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace are designed to lock users into their platforms to capture more dollars per user and customer. By providing significant value by way of additional features, both titans aim to sell other services alongside their productivity suites, such as their cloud computing tools in Azure or Google Cloud Platform™ (GCP).

Ultimately, there’s no wrong answer in the battle of Google Workspace versus Microsoft 365 — choose what’s best for your organization. There are many pros and cons of each, with realistically more positives than negatives for either platform. The amount of investment from each major company is significant and shows in the quality of their products.

Managing Identities for Both Solutions

The trick for many organizations isn’t to use one or the other, or even be locked in. Many organizations want the flexibility to be able to use both platforms, and ultimately manage how end users can access them.

The good news is that organizations can use a cloud directory platform like JumpCloud® to integrate their Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 identities and enable end users to access them both through a single, authoritative identity. That identity is also used to access devices, web apps, on-prem infrastructure, and networks through secure identity management protocols.

Curious how JumpCloud helps you save time and secure your organization’s Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 identities? Contact us; we’d be happy to give you a tour of the product.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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