It’s been interesting to observe the emergence of all kinds of Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings, particularly for those applications most commonly used in nearly every organization on the planet, i.e. word processing/spreadsheet/presentation/etc. suites. The most prevalent of these offerings are Google Apps and Microsoft’s Office 365. I’d like to compare and contrast these two options and share my ideas on where each fits best (or not).
We’ve seen wide adoption of Google Apps in the primary and secondary education arenas – and for good reason. You can’t beat the price (free is always good, right?). While all of the apps included in the suite are browser-based, they are pretty feature-rich and provide the functionality that most people would ever need, whether it be writing and formatting professional-looking word processing documents, elaborate formula-laden spreadsheets, polished presentations, email/calendars, creating website content, or whatever you might need.
Aside from the free option for education and qualified nonprofit organizations, many small and medium-sized business (SMBs) have also taken advantage of low-cost options associated with Google Apps for Work. The same feature set can be leveraged by many of these organizations in running their entire business.
While Google has implemented the capability to use much of the application set in an offline mode (as long as you’re using Google Chrome as your Internet browser), there are some “gotchas”. There are specific steps you have to take within each app to enable it to be used in offline mode; there’s not a unified approach to that at all at this point. It’s also important to understand that some functionality is limited when operating offline (for more information, click here).
Comparing the above to Office 365 reveals some clear technical advantages in Microsoft’s favor – for a price. While Microsoft does offer free plans for qualifying education and nonprofit organizations, the main advantage is that with most of the Office 365 plan offerings, each subscriber is entitled to a full installation of the latest version of the entire Office software suite on up to 5 different PCs or Macs (in addition to 5 tablets and 5 smartphones). So, the reality is that there are really no limitations at all in accessing each application’s full feature set regardless of the presence of a live connection to the Internet. For business professionals who travel and are otherwise constantly on-the-go, it’s a capability that is hard to ignore. The fact that each Office 365 subscriber is always entitled to the latest and greatest version of the Office suite is also a factor to consider. Microsoft’s office automation applications continue to be the most widely used throughout business organizations of all sizes, and I don’t see that changing in any significant way any time soon.
We’re seeing more and more businesses jump on the Office 365 bandwagon, understanding that instead of having to buy and re-buy Microsoft licensing for new versions of Office if they desire to stay current,* they can move to a monthly per user operational expense and never have to worry again about large capital outlays the next time their version of Office reaches the end of its support lifecycle. It seems to me as if Office 365 is and will likely continue to be the best option for most businesses for the foreseeable future.
If you are interested in Office 365 for your organization, contact us today for pricing and trial options.
*or, alternatively, include Microsoft Software Assurance with the initial purchase