Google Workspace and Gmail vs. Office 365 and Outlook—key differences explained

Wondering which office suite can fit your workflow the best? Read this Google Workspace and Gmail vs. Office 365 and Outlook comparison to find out.
While various productivity suites exist for personal and business use, Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) dominate the market. They’re widely adopted and similar at first glance, as they serve the same purpose—ensuring streamlined collaboration.There are still considerable differences between these platforms, which you’ll find outlined in this Google Workspace and Gmail vs. Office 365 and Outlook comparison. You’ll learn how they differ according to the most significant factors so that you can choose the most suitable option.
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Google Workspace vs. Microsoft 365—similarities and differences

Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 are cloud-based subscription services that provide productivity and collaboration tools and apps. Both offer stripped-down plans suitable for personal use and more robust paid tiers for business users.There aren’t many limitations with either option when it comes to creating a cohesive workflow as both offer dedicated tools for the most important activities. Refer to the following table for more details:
ActivityGoogle Workspace appsMicrosoft 365 apps
Document editingGoogle Docs, Sheets, and SlidesMicrosoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint
Cloud storageGoogle DriveOneDrive
Video ConferencingMeetTeams
Regardless of these similarities, Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 show notable differences in the following five aspects:
  1. User interface (UI)
  2. Features and capabilities
  3. Collaboration
  4. Pricing
  5. Security

User interface (UI)

An office suite’s UI and ease of use can make or break your productivity, so it’s among the first considerations when choosing a provider. While Microsoft’s tools have the advantage of being longer-standing and thus more familiar, Google Workspace is typically considered more eye-pleasing and user-friendly.You can notice this by opening the browser versions of Gmail and Outlook side by side. Gmail will greet you with a clean, minimalistic interface, while Outlook has a more outdated and cluttered look.
Source: GmailThis is because Microsoft tends to focus on function over form, so you’ll see that more features are accessible right from the Inbox on Outlook. This naturally creates clutter, which might bother beginners or light users.
Source: OutlookGoogle’s document editing tools also feature offline syncing, which is not available with Microsoft 365. This may not be a significant issue because you’ll have an internet connection most of the time while working, but you might run into setbacks when traveling abroad and don’t have access to Wi-Fi or data.A similar difference affects auto-saving. It’s enabled on Google’s tools by default, so all your changes are saved in real time when you’re online. With Microsoft 365, you must first save a file to OneDrive to enable auto-saving, which is an unnecessary inconvenience.

Features and capabilities

What Microsoft 365 lacks in user interface and design, it makes up in feature variety and overall functionality of its apps. Compare any two platforms from Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, and you’ll see that Microsoft is more suitable for power users.Take Google Docs vs. MS Word as an example. As you use Word, you’ll notice it has more:
  • Templates
  • Styles
  • Charts and other visual elements
The same goes for PowerPoint and Excel, making Microsoft 365 better for complex reports and other demanding tasks.Gmail is also more limiting than Outlook, allowing for 2,000 daily emails compared to Outlook’s 10,000. This may not be an issue for most users—particularly individuals—but large companies might not have sufficient bandwidth with Gmail.Email search is also more comprehensive in Outlook, as it supports filters unavailable in Gmail, most notably:
  • Read status
  • CC sensitivity
  • Flagged


Google built its productivity suite around collaboration from the get-go. By contrast, Microsoft’s tools were initially developed as desktop applications and later evolved into a set of collaborative platforms. As a result, Google’s solution feels more intuitive and streamlined when working in a cloud environment.The main argument in favor of Google Workspace is live multiuser editing. If you want real-time collaboration with Microsoft 365, you need to use SharePoint or OneDrive on top of the document editing tools, while Google Workspace enables it by default.Regarding document sharing, there aren’t significant differences between these two platforms. Both let you share documents right from the main screen, and you can set three different permissions:
  1. Read-only
  2. Suggesting
  3. Editing
Interoperability is another major advantage of Google Workspace. It lets you edit files created both by the native app and Microsoft’s equivalent. There might be some compatibility issues, though, especially with complex files full of elements that Google’s editing tools don’t support.


Google Workspace has a far more straightforward pricing structure than Microsoft 365. Besides the free plan, you can choose between three tiers:
PlanPricing (with annual billing)
Business Starter$6/month
Business Standard$12/month
Business Plus$18/month
Microsoft 365 offers six different versions, each with its own pricing structure:
  1. Home
  2. Business
  3. Enterprise
  4. Government
  5. Non-profit
  6. Education
For the sake of simplicity and fair comparison, we’ll use the Business version as the closest equivalent to Google’s plans. In this case, you have three options:
PlanPricing (with annual billing)
Business Basic$6/month
Business Standard$12.50/month
Business Premium$22/month
Unlike Google Workspace, Microsoft 365 doesn’t offer a free plan, which puts it at a significant disadvantage. You do get a one-month free trial to test the platform and see if it’s worth investing in.The lowest business tiers of both options come at the same price, but Microsoft offers better value for money. You get 50 GB of dedicated email storage alongside 1 TB of file storage, while Google offers 30 GB of combined storage. You can’t expand the storage of your Google Workspace plan unless you opt for the Enterprise tier.On the flip side, Google gives you access to all of its tools regardless of the plan, which isn’t the case with Microsoft. The Business Basic plan only offers online and mobile apps, so you don’t get installable versions unless you choose a higher plan. Still, this is only a problem if you need desktop versions specifically, which aren’t available with Google’s option in the first place.


Depending on your chosen plan, Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 offer varying security levels. Neither option is entirely secure by default, so you might need to invest significantly to protect your data.Unless you choose one of the paid plans, both platforms offer standard security measures, most notably:
  • Two-factor authentication (Google) and multi-factor authentication (Microsoft)
  • Basic phishing and spam email protection
  • GDPR compliance (Google), and HIPAA and CCPA compliance (Microsoft)
You can unlock more advanced security as you move up the tiers, but Google Workspace can’t match Microsoft’s solution. While both platforms offer advanced cyberattack protection, Microsoft 365 has a more robust data protection and governance system in place.Workspace administrators can manage user access to files and data to ensure information sharing happens on a need-to-know basis. This is a more comprehensive solution than Google’s group-based policy controls.As for email security, Gmail and Outlook use the basic Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol out of the box. It protects data in transit, meaning your emails only have a certain degree of protection while traveling. Transferring sensitive information with this protocol might be risky, considering the numerous TLS vulnerabilities discovered so far.Your emails also aren’t protected while resting on the provider’s servers, which wouldn’t be an issue if Google and Microsoft hadn’t suffered numerous cyberattacks. To minimize the risk of such attacks compromising your sensitive information, you need end-to-end encryption (E2EE).
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How E2EE ensures secure communication and collaboration

As the name implies, end-to-end encryption protects your data between endpoints (senders and recipients). When you send an email, its contents are turned into ciphertext on your device before leaving it, and only the recipient has access to the decryption key.E2EE ensures peace of mind and minimizes the risk of spilling sensitive data. Even if someone intercepts the email or attacks the email provider’s server, all they’ll see are encrypted, unintelligible versions of your emails. The decryption key is safely stored on your device, so unless the attacker corrupts it, they can’t get ahold of the key.By default, Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 don’t offer such advanced security. The closest you get is S/MIME encryption, a form of E2EE available natively on Outlook and reserved for paid users in Gmail.The problem with S/MIME is that this protocol is quite outdated and complex to set up. You need to install it manually by purchasing a certificate and configuring it in your email client. Most users might find this too challenging, especially those who aren’t tech-savvy.Luckily, you can find privacy-first email services and collaboration suites that make security available to everyone. To enjoy a more carefree workflow, check out Skiff.

Skiff—privacy made simple (and free)

Skiff is a private productivity suite offering four end-to-end encrypted platforms:
  1. Mail
  2. Pages
  3. Drive
  4. Calendar

Skiff Mail

Skiff Mail is an E2EE email service that uses two distinct keys to keep your correspondence secure:
  1. Public key—Used for encryption and shared between the sender and recipient
  2. Private key—Used to decipher the message and stored on the user’s device
Unlike Google or Microsoft, Skiff doesn’t store encryption keys on its servers, which means that nobody—including their team—can access plaintext copies of your emails.
Source: SkiffFor additional security, Skiff Mail implements the following measures:
  • Two-factor authentication using the Authenticator app, so you don’t need to provide a phone number to secure your emails
  • Zero-knowledge login that lets you sign up without leaving any personal information and ensures your login credentials aren’t recorded or stored by Skiff
Skiff Mail streamlines your correspondence through numerous useful features:
  • aliases that let you manage emails from multiple addresses in one place
  • Schedule and undo-send functions for more flexibility
  • Folders, labels, and filters for easy mail organization
  • Fast email and text search despite no legible data stored on the servers
  • Integration with crypto wallets like Coinbase, MetaMask, and Keplr for anonymous communication
As an open source platform, Skiff Mail offers complete codebase transparency. You can find its cryptographic libraries on GitHub and read the whitepaper to learn more about its features and security measures.

Skiff Pages

Skiff Pages is a secure alternative to Google Docs and Microsoft Word that keeps your files’ contents and metadata end-to-end encrypted and invisible to everyone but your collaborators.The platform’s rich text editor includes everything you need to create comprehensive documents, most notably:
  • Tables
  • Headers
  • Code blocks
Thanks to invite-based collaboration, you can limit access to your files and ensure only the relevant parties can view and edit them. You can also share files through end-to-end encrypted links to fortify their security during transfer.

Skiff Drive

If you need a convenient way of keeping your files safe while syncing them across multiple devices, Skiff Drive is an excellent option. It lets you upload, share, and store files of any type, keeping them away from unauthorized access.You can store files of any size and sort them according to various criteria for easier management. Skiff Drive also offers optional integration with the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS), letting you keep your files safe in a decentralized environment.

Skiff Calendar

The Calendar integrates seamlessly with Skiff Mail despite being a standalone platform. It lets you stay organized by auto-syncing emails and events so that you’re always on top of your schedule.It also features robust interoperability, which means you can RSVP to anyone that uses other email services like Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo.As for collaboration, Skiff Calendar offers two valuable features:
  • Shared calendars letting your team stay updated on project progress and events
  • Built-in video conferencing that lets you host secure meetings

One free account, four E2EE platforms

The entire Skiff suite is available for free, and all of the security measures are active by default without extra costs or complex configurations. Some of the main features included in the free account are:
You can leverage the above features and more in only three quick steps:
  1. Visit the signup page
  2. Choose your account name and password
  3. Access Skiff’s E2EE products
If you want to expand Skiff’s functionality, you can choose from three affordable plans and unlock unlimited version history, up to 1 TB of storage, and other advanced features.Besides all major browsers, Skiff is available on iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows. You can create a secure cross-platform workspace and fortify your privacy wherever you are.

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