G Suite vs Microsoft Office 365 - Which to Use for Education?Bookmark this
The top two providers of cloud-based productivity tools for schools are G Suite for Education and Microsoft Office 365 for education. The schools are enabling students and teachers to access collaborative cloud apps and file storage services by adopting this technology.
When it comes to the end-user level for productivity, communication, and collaboration, both G Suite for Education and Microsoft Office 365 for education, have very similar feature sets for the browser, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email, drive storage, and others. Beyond the end-user productivity level, there are many key differences that would have more impact on the school’s IT team:
- Microsoft Office 365 for education offers local Microsoft tools in which a user can access without having an internet connection. Google does not provide offline application support since everything runs in the browser, and therefore, an internet connection is essential to be able to work with G Suite.
- Microsoft offers a hybrid Active Directory approach for a smooth migration to Office 365 by allowing directory services to still be managed on-premises while moving to the cloud for application functionality. Google launched its service already in a cloud-based environment, so they did not have a legacy environment issue to anticipate.
- Microsoft incorporated SharePoint, which can be used as a secure place to store, organize, share, and access information from almost any device. With websites created using SharePoint Foundation, people can collaborate on web pages, documents, lists, calendars, and data. It can be structured to meet the specific needs of specific departments and offers managed metadata services where users are able to add or remove metadata fields as needed. A user can search or sort for a document based on any field. SharePoint also offers workflow features that Google does not have. Users are able to create a workflow, assign approvals and integrate into existing applications.
- Microsoft Office 365 interfaces with their Azure cloud hosting framework to provide a platform for unlimited scalability and application integration, which is very valuable for an institution that aims to grow in size, or users. With Google, one is quite limited to “what you see is what you get” and any customization will require an API (Application Programming Interface) experienced software engineer.
G Suite has an advantage over Microsoft Office 365 when it comes to mobile devices. Google also offers Forms: a form builder where users are able to custom-build online forms and surveys, and professors can create cheat-proof quizzes. Microsoft Office no longer has a form builder platform since they abandoned InfoPath which was not mobile-friendly.
Although many may believe that the current millennial generation has been “brought up” with Google, making it easier for the students to understand its technical language and application features, as a group, our preferred vendor is Microsoft Office 365 for education due to the bolded reasons listed above. These reasons go beyond the end-user productivity level and would greatly affect the IT team which needs to consider the network capabilities and configurations, email infrastructure and services, among other factors, including their own skills to get it all implemented.