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Review: Microsoft Office 365 vs. Google Apps

Woody Leonhard | Jan. 9, 2014
Web browser or Office suite? Microsoft's and Google's office productivity and collaboration clouds pit rich and complex against simple and lean

Free trials are available for Office 365 Professional Plus (60 days), Office 365 ProPlus (30 days, max 25 users), Office 365 Small Business Premium (30 days, max 10 users), Office 365 Midsize Business (30 days, max 25 users), and E3 (30 days, max 25 users).

Confused yet? Make sure you don't forget the lowly Office 365 Home Premium (30-day trial), which includes the software — Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, plus stand-alone OneNote, Publisher, and Access, five licenses per subscription — without the glue, at $80 per year.

Google Apps for Business optionsIn startling contrast, Google Apps for Business has just two primary options. The basic package costs $50 per user per year, and the Premium package costs $120 per user per year. The contents of the basic package haven't changed much in years. Basic includes Google Docs for word processing, spreadsheets, slideshows, forms, and data storage (all free at docs.google.com); Gmail and Calendar (free at mail.google.com); Google Groups (also free); a website building utility called Sites; the Postini spam filter; and a video-sharing app. Those paying for Google Apps for Business get 30GB of storage per user, allocated across both email and general online storage. There's a free 30-day trial.

The Premium package includes Vault, an email management package that helps with legal and compliance requirements, archives, domainwide search, retention, and restoring deleted messages. Vault lives entirely in the cloud; there's no application to install.

There's also a Google Apps Marketplace, an online store that sells apps designed to run with Google Apps.

Google Apps for Government, for governmental organizations in the United States only, has full FISMA accreditation and costs $50 per user per year. Similar versions are available in some other countries.

When you pay for Google Apps, you pay for 30GB of Google Drive and email storage space for each mail account, for the programs that let you manage an unlimited number of email accounts on your domain, and for phone support. Google Apps for Education and Google Apps for Nonprofits are free. All packages can handle an unlimited number of users.

What's new in Office 365At its most fundamental, the major change is that Office 365 now includes Office 2013. With a slew of interesting new features and a handful of dubious "improvements" that can easily be undone, the new Office suite makes it easier to put your data in the cloud where it will be right at home with the rest of Office 365. There are worthwhile features to make Office 2013 touch friendly, as well as changes to the plumbing that make it work better with the rest of Office 365.

 

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