Microsoft has ramped up the war of words over which cloud platform is the best for business. A TechNet blog claimed that Google Apps lacked basic functions and that users had to pay extra - a Google “tax” - to make Google Apps “enterprise-ready”.
From one perspective Microsoft has a valid point. If you wanted all the features of Microsoft’s cloud software, Office 365, you would need to add more elements to bring the cheaper Google Apps up to measure. In some cases the only option would be to use desktop versions of Microsoft Office in combination with Google Apps to get the required result, as the blog points out.
But there are many businesses out there who just don’t need all the features that Microsoft wants to sell them. Microsoft Office is a classic example. Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are each hugely powerful programs, but the vast majority of users use a very basic set of functions.
The key phrase in the blog is “enterprise-ready”. Many small and medium businesses can get by just fine with the more limited feature set in Google Apps. And it’s cheaper and simpler to manage - there is only one licence for Google Apps compared to over 15 for Office 365.
Microsoft needs to be careful about calling names. While it is true that some features may cost extra in Google Apps, the same is true of Microsoft. Small businesses receive a restricted version of the Microsoft cloud and the full feature set is only available for more than four times the cost of a Google Apps licence.
Note there is another higher tier of Office 365, which we've left out of this comparison because it includes desktop versions of Office too.
Might be worth adding that the P1 plan is sufficient for most small businesses - it's more than most need. But the article goes on about Google Apps not being enterprise ready so I think the price comparison is fair.
Businesses wanting to move to the cloud need to be clear about their requirements and then pick the cloud platform that best fits:
Professional services companies such as architectural or accounting firms are more likely to be power users and happier with Office 365.
Businesses such as retailers and trades services might find Google Apps an easier buy with its integration into Android smartphones and tablets.
That said, I’ve spoken to a small telco and an accounting firm who are both very happy Google Apps users. And I’m sure there are many retailers on Office 365.
Office 365 is a great product. So is Google Apps. It’s disappointing that Microsoft is promoting FUD to rubbish the competition rather than focusing on building a better product.