With the growth of the Internet, and the popularity of Software as a Service, many applications that have traditionally been used offline have moved into the cloud. Companies providing on-demand service through the Internet have reinvigorated one of the most iconic pieces of computer software, the productivity suite. Two such providers are Microsoft and Google. Through their Office 365 and Google Apps services, respectively, businesses can leverage the benefits of cloud without having to worry about the large upfront cost that productivity software used to incur.
Microsoft, an industry leader with their Office suite of software products for over two decades, now offers much of the same functionality through the Internet with Office 365. Whereas their products would previously cost over a hundred dollars per user up front, Microsoft offers Office 365 for as little as $5 per user per month. Some of the features that it includes are business-class email, web conferencing, a public website, file sharing, shared calendars, and web versions of the most popular components of Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) ("Compare Office," n.d.). The company also offers, for a small amount more, the ability to get access to its desktop-based applications as well. This makes it an attractive option for those companies that may still be transitioning to the cloud, or for those who still rely on a particular part of the Office suite (Access, Publisher, etc.).
In contrast, Google is a relative newcomer to the productivity software arena. Through their Google Apps service, they have begun taking on Microsoft at their own game. Although they are new, Google offers its products for the same price as Microsoft - starting at $5 per month per user. The company offers word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations through its Docs, Sheets, and Slides web applications. A nice feature of Google's products is that they are able to work on Microsoft Office format files almost seamlessly; migrating from Google to Microsoft is much trickier. Also similar to Microsoft, Google offers email, file sharing, calendaring, collaboration tools, and website hosting with its GMail, Drive, Calendar, Hangouts, and Sites services ("Apps for Business," n.d). Because Google has been a web-oriented company from the beginning, and has been doing web-based productivity software longer, it makes it an attractive offer for those companies who are looking for a fluid cloud experience. However, with both companies offering almost identical services, how can one differentiate between the two?
First, the biggest difference is in the software distribution models. Google Apps is delivered completely through the Internet; without it, one loses much or all of the functionality of the software service. In contrast, Office 365 has both web-based and desktop-based options, negating the requirement of Internet, and it also offers a wider array of features with Access and Publisher. Second,...