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Making the Switch from Microsoft to Google Apps

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Many companies are making the switch from Microsoft to Google Apps. Use this article to learn more about what Google Apps has to offer and to help if you’re planning on migrating to Google Apps.

It is important to note that there is a pricing plan to use Google Apps for businesses. The cost is $5 per user per month or $50 per user per year. The pricing for Microsoft Office 365 is much more complex and expensive.  

First and foremost, for those who are unfamiliar with Google’s office integration platform, Google Apps works similarly as Microsoft Office 365. Gmail and Google Calendar can substitute Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange. Google Drive contains platforms that are similar to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft One Drive. All documents made through Google Drive can be shared with others. Google Drive will allow users to edit files in real-time as well.
 
Google Drive includes services such as Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides. These can be accessed online or by downloading the respective app through your smartphone. Through the web you can access and edit all your files through Google Drive. On your mobile device you must download each separate app to use the editing function. Google Drive can sync documents by using the cloud and also allows users to collaborate on files offline. 
 
The most significant difference between Google Apps and Microsoft is that Google Apps has a simpler interface. Even Microsoft's former Executive, Rahul Sood chose Google Apps over Microsoft because of its simiplicity, calling Gmail "the gateway drug to Google Apps." This review also compares both office suites and explains how Google is taking the "minimalist approach." Although it is simple, most of the basic features seen in Microsoft can still be found in Google Apps. 
 
To take data from Microsoft Exchange, download this Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps Migration Tool. This will takes your emails, contacts and calendar from Microsoft Exchange and download them into Google Apps. To migrate data from Microsoft Outlook, download this Microsoft Outlook to Google Apps Migration Tool.
 
If you still want to continue using Microsoft Outlook, you can download this Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook Migration Tool that will allow ongoing synchronization between Microsoft Outlook and Google Apps. Anything added to Microsoft Outlook or previously used with Outlook will also be found in your Google Apps. You can also choose which calendars you would like to be synched from Microsoft Outlook.
 
Hopefully this article eases your transition from Microsoft Office to Google Apps. 
 

Thank you for reading my article. Please feel free to leave any kind of feedback. 

I look forward to hearing from you. 
-Arinee 
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19 Comments
 

Expert Comment

by:C P
Seriously? That's it?

I was expecting a review of the actual, real world process of migrating from Exchange to Apps. Maybe interviews with people who have made the switch; problems and pitfalls, etc. This is nothing more than a series of links to other articles.

Sorry for negative comments but this article is about 5% of what it should be to be considered helpful.
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Expert Comment

by:pjnutt
That's the least comprehensive review of a product I think I have ever read!  Seriously, that's the best you got?
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Expert Comment

by:John J
I love Google and I appreciate this article but actually Office365 is not "much more complex and expensive"...

For businesses they have 3 plans, the one most comparable to Google Apps for Work is the "Office 365 Business Essentials" which includes the following:
- Online versions of Office with email and video conferencing
- Exchange Email with 50 GB mailbox
- 1 TB file storage and sharing (using OneDrive)
- HD video conferencing
- MS Office Online

The cost is the just about the same as Google, $5.00/user/month (annual commitment) or $6.00/user/month (month-by-month)

You can compare the pricing and services yourself here: http://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-office-365-for-business-plans

The benefits over Google are:
- A 50GB Exchange mailbox (Exchange is much better than Google's POP3 & IMAP)
- MS Office online, so you have more compatibility opening documents created in MS Office (Which most people use) Google Docs works great but it creates a copy of the file in it's own format [I setup a client with Google Apps and this was their complaint, that's using Google Docs creates so many duplicates they were losing track of files that multiple people edited, I had to instruct them only to use MS Word or Excel so this wouldn't happen])
- Office365 will work perfectly with MS Outlook (2007 w/ updates, 2010 & 2013) and you don't need the Google Apps Sync for Microsoft Outlook Sync app running

On the other hand Google drive has more storage space per user at 30GB, while Onedrive only gives you 1TB. Both Google Apps and Office365 have Video conferencing and chat (Hangouts vs. Skype)

As far as the interface, Office365 has remodeled their interface somewhat since inception and I will say as an admin it's sometimes a challenge finding certain settings, Google Apps is a bit more user friendly but I still find myself "Googling" where to find settings in both Admin consoles (Google Apps & Office365)

I will say I do love Google and use it personally and have never had any issues. But from a business standpoint, I've migrated and setup both Google Apps for work and Office365, I can say Office365 is a better business solution mainly because of the Exchange type email and email storage as so many clients use Outlook which is made for Exchange and works so much better. Plus syncing contacts and calendars to other devices (phones, tablets, ect.) is better (in my opinion and experience)

I'm sure there are many opinions on these services as well but your article is lacking information and misleading. You are stating more of an opinion rather than research and facts.
You should review Office365 services and pricing again and do some more research.
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Expert Comment

by:zoltan9992000
Thanks John,

That was much more informative than the "review" article itself.

Interesting to hear real world experiences.
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
I have used both paid Google Apps and Office 365.  John is spot on in his assessment.    Comparing basic google apps with basic office 365 you have virtually the same type of service for about the same amount.  Office 365 essentials is $5/month/user https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-office-365-for-business-plans same as google apps for business.  Both offer email and web based spreadsheet, word processing and presentation.

Although myself a gmail user, I really don't like the gmail web interface and prefer the web based outlook format.  

Otherwise, I found google apps is a bit more simplistic and if you are just helping somebody that wants to manage everything on their own, I find it is easier to just get google apps up and running and give them control.  There really is not much fine control over how everything works.    Office 365 on the other hand uses a web based Exchange.  It is not as intuitive for the non techie, but those that are used to having more a fine control will like it better.  What you can't do with the web based interface, you can do with powershell.   I feel it acts and feels more like a server that just happens to have a web based interface instead of logging into a physical server.

Another feature that typically does not get any attention until it is too late is support.  When I have had technical issues that required a phone call, I found Microsoft to be superior.  Calling in with a problem to Google Apps and I felt like I was talking to one of those interns like the movie (The Internship).  You deal with lower level support that seems to read from a script of things that could be wrong.  If they don't know, they bring somebody else in calling you back some time later that day.    

When I had issues with office 365, I learned that you are always assigned the same team for the time shift.  If you typically call in for support during business hours, you will always talk to the same team and many times I found I was talking/emailing to the same person.   They were able to take some good technical questions without having to escalate as they already knew the answer.
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Expert Comment

by:John J
Scott,

I agree with you about Google Apps and Office365 backend, for small clients Google Apps is easier for them to poke around in the back-end and more simplistic, but Office365 is geared more towards the technical guru or professional.

I've not dealt with Google support but that's good to know!
I've dealt with Office365 support and they are more responsive than other support teams I've dealt with.

Over all I think both solutions have come a long way and are the only two I recommended for businesess. I try to steer people away from hosted solutions like 1and1.com and Godaddy.com webmail which are awful (I know this because of first hand experience)
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
>  steer people away from hosted solutions

Yes, this is why I have used both office 365 and google apps.  I used to host email for my clients on both shared services and dedicated web/email until Google Apps came around then I moved everybody I worked with for web hosting to GA when when it was still free.  But given the choice now, I prefer Office 365.
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Expert Comment

by:Michael Eayrs
John and Scott, I appreciate your detailed write ups. I am both a Google partner and Microsoft partner and sell/configure plans from both companies. Like Scott, I used to "host" customer email on shared hosting sites such as HostGator. When I decided to focus on Office 365, I migrated my company over first and I believe that Office 365 is superior to Google Apps, particularly for larger companies.  I have some one-person businesses that I've kept on Google Apps, but I've moved the rest of my customers over to O365.

Although I prefer using a web interface for email, most of my customers prefer using Outlook. I love that Office 365 uses a hosted exchange server that syncs email, calendar, contacts, tasks, etc with Outlook. Also, the 50GB mailbox with Office 365 has come in handy for a few of my customers that have mailboxes that are close to or over 30GB.  

Having 1TB of space on OneDrive for Business (supposed to become "unlimited" at some point) is much better than the 30 GB available through Google Apps.  

I much prefer Skype for Business over Hangouts and there's no equivalent to SharePoint (at least that I could find) on Google.

The one limitation that I'm running into with Office 365 is viewing/editing shared or group calendars on mobile devices. It seems that Google is still superior in this area.  I have some customers that have techs in the field that they would like to use shared calendars to set their appointments on their mobile devices, but I haven't found a good way to do this with Office 365 except by assigning a separate license to a shared account.

Overall, the article above is clearly slanted to Google Apps and shortchanges Office 365.
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Expert Comment

by:John J
That was a typo, when I compared the 1TB of storage on Office365 to the 30GB storage on Google.
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Expert Comment

by:Brad Rubin
John/Scott -

Your comments are great regarding Office 365. It would be great to have one or both of you write your own article or product review. It would get you into our monthly contest as well. We are giving away a nice 4TB hard drive this month.

http://pages.experts-exchange.com/Blade-Runner-Contest.html
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Expert Comment

by:Gadsden Consulting
I recently did a scan of alternatives to Office 365, then I realized - I think I have Word and Excel online with OneDrive, isn't that right ?
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
>I recently did a scan of alternatives to Office 365, then I realized - I think I have Word and Excel online with OneDrive, isn't that right ?

That is not entirely true.  The web version of word and excel comes with office 365
https://products.office.com/en-us/business/compare-office-365-for-business-plans

One Drive is the File storage and sharing

I forgot to mention something that is aggravating with google apps and I don't know if it is the same with office365.  When you upload an office file such as excel or word to google drive, you can view it no problem. But when you want to edit the document, google creates a duplicate copy and saves it in "google" format. It can get very messy with multiple versions of seemingly the same document.  When you deal with a lot of documents, it is very nasty.
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Expert Comment

by:Jason C. Levine
You can change that behavior and make Google convert all uploads to its native format.
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
I believe that is only for uploading files.  If a new file is local, then syncs via google drive, the duplicate is created when you want to edit via drive.
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Expert Comment

by:Mohammed Khawaja
I am shocked that people are actually recommending Google Apps for business use.  I am not sure what kind of businesses you folks deal with but below is my observation:

1.  Most finance people are stuck with Outlook due to VB add-ins for integration with third-party applications (i.e. SAP, Hyperion, reporting applications such as GlobalSoft Spreadsheet Server, etc.)
2.  Manufacturing companies use Excel for log sheets, production calculations, etc. where they integrate with applications such as PI, Proficy, etc.
3.  I am not aware of any third-parties writing/building integration packages for Google Apps
4.  There is no offering from Google which can replace SharePoint
5.  Hybrid infrastructure where some companies would like some users email hosted on the cloud and the rest in-house
6.  Backward compatibility with older Office files, formatting
7.  ODBC connectivity with back-end systems (as an example, I know of law firm whose client list is in a SQL database and all invoices are generated in Word with digital signatures, etc.  Try doing that with Google Apps)

I am not anti-Google, on the contrary, I am a supporter of Google but only for consumer market where there are no needs of integration to back-end systems or crazy macros / VB add-ins.  Until someone could come out with a replacement for Excel, Exchange and SharePoint, businesses will be locked in MS world.
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Expert Comment

by:Gadsden Consulting
Scott Fell,

>>That is not entirely true.  The web version of word and excel comes with office 365
- but I log on to onedrive and open a word file, and bingo, I'm editing it. On my machine I have Office 2010 Client version, but when I edit a onedrive word file, it sure seems like a free version of Word . . .
Word online
I did the same with Excel - I opened online a spreadsheet that I created at home with Excel 2010, and it was definitely the web'y version, and I was exceedingly impressed.
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Expert Comment

by:John J
Scott,

I mentioned the Google Docs duplicates issues in my first post, they wanted a "shared folder" that everyone could access and save common documents (forms and such) plus they wanted it backed up, so I setup Google drive and created a "Company folder" accessible to all Google Apps users, but then they complained about duplicates so  I instructed my client to only open docs locally (from the Google Drive Folder) using MS Office otherwise it would do that. There is no way to use both without creating duplicates because Google Docs has to convert the file in order to edit it.


Mohammed,

There are many types and sizes of businesses, several I've worked with in the past don't need any of those integrations you speak of. Most purchase the desktop version MS Office and Outlook and use a hosted Email provider. Also smaller companies don't have the budget or need to maintain an on premise exchange server, so a hosted solution just makes much better sense. Also how these companies use Google Apps may vary from what you speak of, I worked with a Radio station that moved to Google Apps away from an on premise Exchange server and got rid of Outlook to cut down on IT support issues, so now everyone using Google Apps through their browser, they still use MS office and other 3rd party programs though, but this made sense for them.

Google Apps for work (Government, Education & Non-profits) works fine for many businesses I've dealt with, I currently have a Dr.'s office that I migrated over from a webhost solution. With HIPAA, they needed a better solution for security and compliance and I successfully set that up for them with Google Apps. They do use MS Office and Google drive as a shared company folder, plus they have Mobile Devices with strict policies on password and screen lock time-out and the devices can be wiped remotely if lost or stolen. Also they use an RSM to manage the practice so no integration was needed with Outlook or Office.
Also there are several third-part integrations for Google Apps, under the "Marketplace Apps" section. I had to setup a 3rd party App called Virtru, which is an email encryption and management plugin, it integrates seamlessly into browser and you can install the plugin for Outlook.

I don't recommend Google Apps for Work as a complete replacement for MS Office and Hosted Email, although it could work. The main thing I'm recommend is the Email part of this equation, I am always dealing with hybrid situations here so finding the best, cheapest solution is mainly what the client wants. Most small and medium businesses now are moving to cloud based services, cutting back on their own infrastructure and moving the responsibility to the provider.
My recommendation here was Office365 as Microsoft has bundled everything together without a need to install anything and it's all hosted so no equipment to manage, from an overall cost of service and management it's a better solution than on premise.

As far a Google Apps for Work, there are a few situations where I'd recommend that, but If I know my client is going to be using MS office and/or Outlook I'm going to recommend Office365. But again the main focus here is the Email functionality.
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Expert Comment

by:Greg Hejl
Most folks are to tied to the Office Apps to give up on them.  if you tie Google Apps cost and the cost of Office licensing you might as well get on board with O365 for the online experience as well as the device experience for the same overall price.
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Expert Comment

by:pchettri
Office365 does offer web version to application access. It is specially useful for saving documents on Onedrive, when you are accessing application form tablet or phone. Most of the plan allows application access for up to 5 devices. For laptop or desktop,  I would prefer full downloaded version which gives option to same on OneDrive or local drives. 5 devices option is same for business essentials/premium, E3 or E5, of course the application and storage varies with plan
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