Office 365: A Software Review/Rating


Our organization adopted Office 365 and highly recommend it as the business communication platform for all our customers.  In the marketplace, there really are only two options that support business functions; they are Google’s G-Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365.

In the early days Google’s G-Suite and Microsoft’s Office 365 had some major differences in functionality.  G-Suite had very easy to use cloud-based office programs like Google Docs and Google Drive.  Essentially, they were simple programs for word documents, spreadsheets, and presentations that were meant for light work in their respective areas.  Microsoft had the big bloated Office Suite with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.… but Google’s was cloud based and easy to use.  Serious users kept with Microsoft’s office Suite.

Several years back, Microsoft comes out with Office 365 and now their feature parody with Google is very good and in many ways, even more functional.  They now have cloud versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.…  just like google and they have the desktop suite that is fully powered.  Even more you can easily move between the cloud version and the locally installed version.

Today there is very little functional difference between them, and they all work on just about any platform (Apple’s iPhone/iPads, Android devices, Apple’s Mac computers and Windows’s PC’s).

So, why do we recommend Office 365 over Google’s G-Suite?

  1. Microsoft is better and ahead of the game in security. The reality is both platforms by default are insecure and an expert is needed to properly set them up. Once both are setup correctly, they both have good security options.  However, Microsoft has a pretty big advantage that allows users to easily link to their work network, leverage security settings and authentication services.  Also, Microsoft offers a deeper security level.
  2. Its hard to beat the functionality of the Microsoft Office suite of products. The reality is that Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OneNote are simply better and more functional.  Furthermore, most users are familiar with it and find it easier to use.
  3. Microsoft’s Office 365 includes other great tools that only Microsoft has. These are tools like Planner, SharePoint, Teams and more.  If your business is not leveraging these tools, you should investigate them.
  4. Office 365 has some compelling integrations into the newer Microsoft office suite and Operating systems such as Windows 10. Google has no such integration with those.

Here are the downsides to Office 365 you should be aware of:

  1. Setting it up correctly with good security practices requires expertise. Even IT professionals that have been in the business a long-time struggle with this unless they get specific training for it.  Because you can sign up and just get it working;  a lot of people do that and never do the security stuff.  This has led to all sorts of organizations becoming compromised, having more spam than they should, and phishing attacks.
  2. Office 365 works very intuitively within an organization but struggles with collaboration outside your organization. You can collaborate with people not in your organization, it’s just not as intuitive and simple as the G-Suite products.  Additional training and mindfulness on security needs to be in place to make external collaboration smooth with Office 365.

Another important point to clear up is the difference between Office 365 and the desktop Office Suite.  Office 365 is a cloud platform that handles your email and several other cloud-based applications.  Office suite is your Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, or PowerPoint that are not cloud based. You can use the Office suite products to connect to Office 365, the cloud-based versions of them work directly with office 365 but buying Office 365 is not necessarily buying the office suite.

Microsoft regularly bundles the Office Suite with the Office 365 licensing.  So, you can pay one monthly fee and get the desktop Office suite of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, etc.…  and at the same time be paying for the Office 365 cloud service.  This is, in fact, a recommended way of getting the best of all worlds.

Small business used to run their email with local Microsoft Exchange servers, Office 365 has fully replaced that and added way more cloud services to the same service.  It’s a very powerful and capable tool.  So, long as it’s configured securely, we highly recommend any business to use Microsoft’s Office 365.

It is important that you fully consider the pros and cons of each platform and make the right decision for your organization.  Just be sure to consider that both of these services are more than just business email.  They are cloud platforms that can provide so much more than just email.  Furthermore, know that both the major platforms are risky by default and good security practices need to be in place.  At a minimum, no matter which platform you use, turn on dual factor authentication. That will help reduce your risk in several ways.

If you haven’t jumped into either of these tools yet, we encourage you to do so.  They are the leading cloud platforms and your business will likely see significant efficiencies gained in your communication and collaboration.

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