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Microsoft 365 vs G Suite - Who to trust with your data privacy
By Calligo on 8 October 2020
Microsoft 365 (formally known as Office 365) and G Suite are two of the most prominent cloud-based business productivity tools available.
With so much increased demand for accessible cloud-based platforms, choosing between Microsoft 365 vs G Suite has never been a more prevalent decision for business owners and IT managers. But also data protection officers (DPOs).
Factors such as cost, functionality, design, and accessibility are of course the usual considerations between Microsoft 365 and G Suite, but the one that is most often overlooked, or certainly under-scrutinised, is data security and data privacy.
Many businesses lack the internal expertise to really evaluate the relative data protection merits of either platform, and therefore instead either trust blindly in the safety of their data, or that the cyber threats “will never happen to them”.
In this blog, we will explore the data privacy features of both Microsoft 365 and G Suite and carry out a comparison that helps you choose between the two.
History of Microsoft 365 and The Rise of G Suite
Microsoft 365 and G Suite are the two giants in the communication, collaboration, and productivity market. For many years, Microsoft Office (now Microsoft 365) had been the staple choice for business owners, most of whom ran their businesses on Windows PCs.
However, when Google launched G Suite in 2006, a cloud-friendly suite of applications, Microsoft were forced to face their opponent on a new battleground and responded with the launch of Office 365 in 2011.
Microsoft had familiarity and legacy on its side. Microsoft 365’s similarity to its native Windows apps made it easy to navigate. However, despite the relatively shorter history of G Suite, it has shown incredible innovation in terms of infrastructure, accessibility and productivity, and as a result, has grabbed a substantial share of the market.
When the features of both cloud platforms are directly compared, it can seem difficult to choose between Microsoft 365 vs G Suite. But overall, based on feature set, most commentators agree Microsoft 365 comes out ahead. This is especially true of data protection measures.
Microsoft 365 vs G Suite: A Brief Comparison
On the face of it, G Suite and Office 365 / Microsoft 365 have a lot in common. Both are tiered subscription-based services that are charged on a per-user per-month basis.
While G Suite is entirely cloud-based, it does have the ability to enable offline working on Google Doc. Meanwhile, Microsoft 365 comes with well-known native apps for Windows, MAC, iOS and Android and also provides web-based versions of its apps.
Both suites offer the same essential business productivity applications – file storage, word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, email, calendar and video conferencing – and both suites offer a range of additional tools as well.
Their apparent similarity can make it difficult to decide which better for your business. But there are some critical differences in the two sides of the Microsoft 365 vs G Suite divide…
G Suite only offers three different subscription plans – Basic: $6 /user/month, Business: $12 /user/month, Enterprise: $25 /user/month.
On the other hand, the pricing options for Microsoft 365 vary, as they offer different packages for home, enterprise, business, and government use. The recommended Microsoft subscription for businesses is Microsoft 365 Business Premium package, which costs $20.00/user/month.
Both suites offer productivity applications that are similar in operation. For example, Microsoft Word and Google Docs, Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets, Microsoft PowerPoint and Google Slides.
However, Microsoft 365 goes one further by offering Stream, a video service where team members can view, share and upload videos securely. G Suite has no application that provides the same function. Similarly, Microsoft provides a dedicated project management application, Planner, combined with Tasks, a personal productivity management tool.
Also, when trying to choose between Microsoft 365 vs G Suite, keep in mind that Microsoft offers more file storage and email storage space for entry-level payment plans.
Both Microsoft 365 and G Suite provide collaboration tools – Microsoft Teams, and Google Chat and Meet.
Collaborating on documents with G Suite can be more intuitive for beginners, but when it comes to more complex, enterprise-wide collaboration, Microsoft 365 comes out ahead of anything that G Suite offers.
Microsoft Teams offers meetings via voice or video conferencing, group chat and private instant messaging, customizable and shared workspaces, and team file spaces in a way that is more conducive to productivity than what Google can provide. It also seamlessly integrates with the rest of Microsoft 365’s suite of applications, including SharePoint, OneDrive and more. Teams can also be used as the foundations for fully integrated domestic and international VOIP calling through Business Voice – an area where Google does not compete.
You can read more about Microsoft 365, specifically the Microsoft 365 Business Premium package, and what it has to offer, including pricing, here.
Microsoft 365 vs G Suite Data Privacy: Which is Best?
But it is in the area of data protection and privacy where Microsoft 365 pulls furthest ahead from G Suite, making it the far more natural option for any business that routinely handles sensitive data, especially any volumes of personal data.
For context, Google’s primary source of revenue is from advertisements, and they collect an astonishing amount of data on everyone who uses their services. Furthermore, they have a storied history that involves confusing and occasionally controversial data policies, which has led to a considerable amount of distrust.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has always sought transparency, clearing up any doubts about whether their data is accessible to 3rd parties.
Microsoft has decades of experience ensuring that their Office suite and Microsoft 365 is optimized for security and data privacy, and comes with a vast library of IT security and data protection features that have been specifically designed for its users to ensure they can protect their data and stay compliant with relevant data privacy regulations.
Data privacy & security in
Other relevant areas to look at when comparing Microsoft 365 vs G Suite from a data privacy perspective include:
Data Protection and Data Security
Google does have a relatively good track record when it comes to data security. They have an extensive collection of data processing centres, each one built with custom servers and special operating systems for performance and enhanced security. Google also uses a variety of innovative strategies to prevent and expel malicious threats.
However, Microsoft 365 has the advantage of having had more time to perfect its data protection offering and create a highly-tailorable environment of advanced tools where organizations can implement their own policies and measures – a degree of control that Google just does not match.
For instance, Microsoft 365 Business Premium package includes Microsoft Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), which acts as an email filtering platform and offers maximum protection against malware and phishing attempts. Microsoft also provides users with the option to use Multi-Factor Authentication to further protect their data by verifying their identity, tools that prevent the auto-forwarding of email, advanced anti-malware, -virus and -ransomware and message encryption.
You can read more about Microsoft 365 and its data privacy and IT security features, here.
Data Privacy and Compliance
Microsoft 365’s compliance framework is equipped with over 890 controls, and includes numerous tools such as Data Loss Prevention and Azure Information Protection that identify and categorise data by its sensitivity and then help prevent the unwise or non-compliant sharing of hazardous data.
Similarly, Microsoft’s Intune MDM platform allows organizations to manage mobile devices settings – whether personal or corporate-owned – and ensure password / PIN requirements before corporate data can be shared through them, prevent unauthorised app downloads, and even remotely wipe corporate data from lost devices.
All of these measures support the continuous protection of sensitive data and help businesses remain compliant with their industry regulations or national data privacy laws.
Microsoft 365 vs G Suite: A Summary
Both Microsoft 365 and G Suite have dynamic security infrastructure and, while both are efficient, Microsoft has a clearer stance on data governance and a host of data protection and data privacy features that give it a definitive advantage over G Suite for companies concerned about IT security and data privacy.
Furthermore, the familiarity with Microsoft 365 applications offers another clear advantage in terms of productivity and collaboration, providing users with the apps they know and are familiar with.
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