Microsoft has long been the default choice in businesses, both for its Windows PC operating system and its well-regarded Office productivity software; Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint. Outlook joined the list of must-have applications to look after email, calendars and task management - replacing previous stand-alone products such as Schedule.
But as the power and sophistication of the web quickly grew, new challengers appeared to take on Microsoft’s virtual monopoly. Probably most significant is G Suite, a predominately web-based solution from Google, which also has companion apps for iOS and Android but falls short of offering desktop versions. But is G Suite a credible alternative?
Working in the cloud
Google's argument is that with the power of modern browsers (such as its own Chrome) and fast internet speeds, users can now work natively in the cloud. Applications such as word processors and spreadsheets can now be provided online, constantly improving and providing powerful collaboration capabilities.
Microsoft was slower to provide these online services, perhaps concerned at undermining their highly profitable Office software suite. This has changed completely with Microsoft now providing comprehensive online versions for its key applications and recently announcing a common code-base for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and web. This allows files, such as a Word document, to created on any device and edited on any other with minimal cross-platform issues.
Where's my data?
The inclusion of desktop applications is probably the fundamental difference between Office 365 and G Suite. For many businesses working with these familiar applications will be reason enough for choosing Office. Documents created on a desktop can be copied to the web, via OneDrive, and then edited on the web or another device with changes synchronised between the various copies on each device. As the file 'lives' on each device it can be copied, backed up or attached locally.
Google wants to keep your data in the cloud and not copied locally; you work on the one web version from all your devices. You can save and download Office-compatible versions of files created in 'Docs' or 'Sheets' but this does not happen automatically, even using Google's Drive software. With your data only in the cloud you need a cloud-based backup solution.
Control of your data
Microsoft is seeking to combine the power of both local applications and the online environment. Desktop and mobile applications still offer a richer set of features than their online counterparts, which cater more for the 20% of features you use 80% of the time. For example, Google Sheets has very limited visualizations, charts, and graphs compared to Excel and cannot handle very large data sets.
In addition, Google G Suite requires a number of third-party applications to provide the functionality that Office 365 offers in-house, such as building custom workflow automation across applications with Flow or enabling people to work and communicate through one central space like Teams.
Finally, with privacy, data security and data sovereignty becoming more and more prominent issues Microsoft is keen to highlight its long-standing reputation as as provider of professional, business-class solutions.
For these reasons, Office 365 is still the best choice of productivity software.
To find out more call Chris on 01473 835 280 or visit www.strident.co.uk