What I Actually Love and Hate About G Suite, from an Office Power User (Part 1)
“Google Sheets is worthless!”
That’s a phrase I’ve used less and less over the last 6 months. But I still say it from time to time. That’s basically the TL;DR of this post.
Still interested? Read on.
Many articles cover the broad strokes of G Suite and Office; here, we cover some nitty-gritty details and preferences from me.
Note: Part 1 covers my background, my view overall of G Suite vs Office 365, Gmail vs Outlook, and SSO. In Part 2 we cover Sheets vs Excel, Docs vs Word, and Powerpoint vs Slides. In Part 3, we’ll cover Google Drive vs. OneDrive and Sharepoint, as well as my final thoughts.
Moving To The Cloud? Time To Weigh Your Options
Like many organizations, maybe you’re considering a move to the cloud from Exchange. That means you may be considering Office 365. And if you’re doing that, G Suite’s attractive pricing and increasingly strong feature set may look enticing. G Suite now has over 4 million business users. Clearly, it’s worth it to a number of companies, including some in the Enterprise segment.
My Background (Office) And Current Setup (G Suite w/ “Secret” Office)
In college, I used Outlook to manage my school email. I became a certified Excel Specialist in 2006. And business majors were expected to complete assignments in PowerPoint, Word, and Excel. It was great training; for the next 10+ years, my employers ran Exchange and Office exclusively. I made awesome spreadsheets, proposals, and presentations. You may find this story sounds familiar. Let me know if it does on Twitter or LinkedIn. Or maybe you think I don’t qualify as a power user. Please send your complaints to me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Now, at Alpin, we use G Suite and always have. It’s been an adjustment.
However, I may have Office installed on my work laptop (and so might my bosses). After six months, I hardly use it for work. But I don’t plan on uninstalling it either. I’ll explain more about that in Part 2.
Overall G Suite vs Office 365 – Quick Thoughts
Here are a few quick thoughts, mostly from at a 30K-foot-view, of both systems. If you want more of a high-level comparison in various categories, check out this comparison from CIO.com. You may also like this awesome post from Templafy, where they categorize all O365 and G Suite apps and put them side by side. It’s helpful if you don’t know which apps to compare between the two.
Organizations possessing significant Office experience and institutional knowledge find that to be a big advantage to staying with Office. I agree with the [deleted] Reddit user on a /r/sysadmin thread: resistance to change from users constitutes the worst part about switching.
Generally, I agree with the consensus that G Suite is more collaborative. Live reviews don’t require Zoom, GotoMeeting, etc. Airbus will migrate 130K users over 18 months to G Suite, primarily for G Suite’s focus on collaboration.
They both suffer from poor interoperability with one another. Calendar invites and emails may look bad or malfunction completely. For instance, Office calendar invites adjust automatically for the time zone of other Office users but G Suite invites don’t.
Bonus for Office: Navigation – it definitely took some adjustments using only a web browser with G Suite, making my Windows taskbar far less helpful. You can help with this by using pinned tabs in Chrome, or having a separate window for each single important tab.
Bonus for G Suite: College Grad Pipeline – I’m a Millennial, but we’re not all whippersnappers anymore. New college grads may not have experienced the same Office-dominated environment as me. G Suite has become very popular in academia, with free accounts given to college students. I have to think that will erode Microsoft’s biggest advantage over time.
Gmail vs Outlook
Tagging and organization is easy and approachable, easily competing with rules/alerts in Outlook. And Gmail’s ability to apply multiple tags is fantastic, allowing much greater search capability that is not limited by a hierarchy of nested folders that forces you to pick only a single location for an email. Spam filtering and auto-categorizing most newsletters is a real time-saver, though Focused Inbox in Outlook now competes fairly well. Gmail has more auto-filtering categories out-of-the-box.
The Inbox app for mobile looks great and is maybe my favorite mobile email client. (However, it doesn’t allow you to apply multiple tags; only the Gmail app allows that.) The material design works great and tools like pinning work perfectly. Your G Suite admin needs to enable it though. Outlook is for mobile is pretty good, but Inbox still wins for me.
Fewer attachments – I now greatly prefer sharing Drive links, especially for internal emails. Fewer issues with versioning, and it looks cleaner.
Delay send – I always set a rule to delay sending an email for 2 minutes in Outlook, and it definitely came in handy. Gmail allows “undo” send for a maximum period of 30s.
Ubiquity (and the nice formatting that comes with it) – More people use Outlook, and Outlook-to-Outlook emails look much better than Gmail-to-Outlook emails.
Searching my inbox – surprisingly, I still find myself missing the way search worked in Outlook compared to Gmail. I feel I have a harder time finding something in the Gmail search. Whether it’s the interface, actual search functionality, or some combination of the two, I found things faster in Outlook.
SSO With G Suite And Office 365: Wonderfully Convenient, And That’s The Problem
Who doesn’t like Single Sign On (SSO) with G Suite or O365? An infosec lead, CISO, or other admin with sweaty palms, most likely.
For users, SSO is great. It’s convenient. There’s no need to remember so many passwords or stick them to your computer monitor. G Suite and O365 make implementing SSO easy.
But that convenience may bolster risky permissions, shadow IT spend, and near instant access to time-wasting apps. In our experience helping IT departments discover, manage costs, and improve security with cloud apps, users may easily have 10 times more app subscriptions than expected. As in, IT expected to find 300 at most and found 3,000 instead.
In terms of availability, G Suite dominates. Fewer apps enable O365 logins, and if security is a concern, maybe that’s preferable, if ironic. O365 doesn’t connect to much, so in a sense, it’s more secure. G Suite connects to so many extensions and third party apps and grants access permissions to those programs.
Coming soon: Part 2 — subscribe to get notified when it’s published.