Office 365 is a fully integrated productivity suite, with built-in communication, collaboration, and Enterprise Social capabilities – no third-party add-ons required. Google Apps is very similar in general function (especially Docs, Sheets and Slides) and there isn’t anything major, or even relatively minor that can be done using one suite but not the other, and changes are rolling out weekly/monthly for both. However, Google Apps require add-ons for a true comparison of features built-into Office 365. Google Apps, similar to Office 365, is also a productivity suite, used exclusively through the browser with very limited offline support. Both suites allow for real-time collaboration and comments. Both integrate a form of chat for collaboration, and are easily shared.

Microsoft Office is familiar historically, compared to the recent popularity of Google Apps due to integration of mobile devices, specifically Android devices. Microsoft has been the leader in productivity software for more than two decades. Office 365 builds on the familiar experience of Microsoft Office products so that users can transition to the cloud without compromising their productivity. Google has strong Apps, however, many tools that have been developed for Google Apps have been abandoned. Google+ is one example of a dying Google feature.

On the topic of privacy, Google has had some recent issues with privacy and Office 365 is trustworthy. Because Office 365 is independently verified to meet requirements specified in ISO 27001 and the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, and is willing to sign the EU Model Clauses and a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement with all customers, it helps customers meet the privacy, security and compliance requirements. Office 365 safeguards customer information while leading the industry in privacy, security, and compliance. Google actively data mines on Apps for Education email accounts and historically has had major privacy concerns.

Recent Studies

July 13, 2015
Choosing Office 365 over Google Apps for more than a million students across Brazil

July 8, 2015
Google Apps vs. Office 365 Comparing Usage, Adoption & Effectiveness

July 22, 2015
The Battle between Office 365 and Google Apps

Differences in Privacy

Office 365
• Offers a contractual commitment that data will not be scanned for advertising purposes.
• Microsoft is invested in providing secure data centers and services, easing your mind with separate architecture for consumer and business services.
• Office 365 does not provide ambiguity in its privacy statements about the usage of your data, allowing businesses to maintain control of their information.

Google Apps
• Google Apps adheres to Google’s single privacy policy, which is shared across business and consumer applications.
• Google does not offer its best data privacy and security terms by default.
• Google offers minimal Data Loss Prevention and Information Rights Management capabilities to Gmail users and administrators, making it difficult for businesses to ensure their data doesn’t leak via Gmail.
• Under public pressure for its data-mining practices, Google continues to rework and revise its privacy policies.

Differences in Experiences across platforms

Office 365
• Consistent productivity across the PC, phone, and browser, on any platform at any time.
• iOS and Android versions of Office apps are excellent.
• Get a consistent experience across platforms and devices both online and offline. No variations between an Android experience and an iOS experience.
• Fully integrated in all Windows devices.
• With the Office client on the desktop, Office 365 users can keep working even if they experience network issues.

Google Apps
• Google has limited offline capabilities for its services. They are only limited to Chrome browser or Chrome devices, and the experience is inconsistent across services.
• Google Apps does not allow you to share Office documents when stored in Google Drive.
• Google Apps are not available on Windows Phones. iOS and Android only.
• The editing experience for Office documents in Google Apps, is inconsistent between Chrome and other major browsers.
• When Office documents are converted to native Google format in Google Apps, the full file formatting is lost.

Core Integration differences

Office 365
• Office 365 enhances the familiar Office productivity experience with tried-and-true ways to create, collaborate, and communicate.
• Users can see real-time presence and calendar availability, and can start a web conference from multiple entry points in the Office 365 solution, including Outlook, Outlook Web App, Microsoft SharePoint Online, Yammer Enterprise, Microsoft Lync Online, and from within Office applications.
• Integrated with Outlook for email.
• OneDrive is the cloud storage.
• Share instantly sends an email without having to open Outlook and/or shares to social networks.
• Must buy a subscription for the entire suite. Various plans available.
• Yammer is integrated for communities.
• Office Mix engages students with presentations.
• Free versions of Apps with limited capability are available for mobile devices. Office 365 purchase options.

Google Apps
• Google Apps offers nowhere near the same rich, integrated functionality as Office 365.
• People use many Google Apps in their personal life and can pick up the basics of using it fairly easy.
• Google Drive is the cloud storage.
• Integrated with Gmail for email.
• Customers must rely on third-party solutions for core features such as Mail Merge, Bibliography etc. These are built into Office 365.
• Customers rely on third-party providers like CloudLock for data loss prevention capabilities.
• Document elements—including watermarks, tables of contents, headers and footers, page numbers, tables, and formatting—can be lost or broken when an Office document is opened in Google Apps.
• Must use Google+ to create private communities. G+ is a dying feature and has been slowly dismantled.
• Uses Google Hangouts for interactive online lessons, which supports a limited number of users and requires 3rd party apps for simple tasks like desktop sharing.
• Share opens Gmail to compose an email, or shares instantly to social networks.
• Must buy the entire suite if purchasing a Business/Work or Edu license.

Differences in the Interface

Office 365
• Mobile access to Office is a streamlined version of the productivity software, offering users a familiar and intuitive Office experience.
• No 3rd party tools required for interoperability.
• Be worry-free about whether the version you last modified captured the changes.
• Users will be able to enable Cortanta soon. It’s currently available for Windows Insider Program users on Windows 10.

Google Apps
• Compatible with other email clients with Google Apps Sync plugins.
• Can associate Google Apps account with Google Now’s digital assistant.
• On top of the learning curve to use a new interface, browser, and plug-ins, many users are disappointed to learn that Google Apps lacks their favorite features.
• Users have limited formatting options, and full file fidelity losses still may occur, even when using Cloud Connect.
• Third-party tools such as OffiSync and Memeo are recommended for functionality that is similar to what is offered and built-into Office 365.
• To find solutions that are not in Google Apps, customers have to turn to the Google Apps Marketplace to find an appropriate third-party ISV solution.

Differences in how Apps are updated

Office 365
• Microsoft updates Office 365 on a regular schedule and provides customers with 12 months’ notice of significant changes to Office 365.
• Microsoft also contractually commits to maintaining core Office 365 features for the term of the customer’s subscription via the Customer Roadmap.
• Office 365 offers you the flexibility to change services to meet your needs more easily with predictable pricing plans.
• Avoid surprises with advance notice of major updates and visibility into the Office 365 technology roadmap.

Google Apps
• Google’s approach to innovation is to release beta features with little or no advance warning.
• No roadmap.
• Google provides one week of advance notice for new features to customers on the Scheduled Release track.
• New features may have potentially disastrous results (Google Buzz?).
• You have no ability to postpone the deployment of new features from Google.

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