There are over a dozen email service providers in the market geared towards towards small business. Google’s Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook are the primary options. Both provide similar features, but their suitability for companies depends on the specific needs of the business. Let us examine different features of these products which would help you in choosing the right product.
Most businesses would prefer to buy customized domains (firstname.lastname@example.org) which are not offered with free services by Gmail or Outlook. To get customized domains, organizations need to sign up for premium accounts. Office 365 Business Essentials plan which is Microsoft’s paid service for outlook is priced at around $4 user/month, but it does not include office applications (Word, Excel, Powerpoint etc.). To access outlook along with office applications, the price is around $8 users/month. On the other hand, Google offers G Suite with other business apps like Calendar, Google Docs, and Google Sheets at $5 user/month. Clearly Gmail is cheaper option as compared to Outlook.
If your employees use Microsoft suite frequently because of the nature of the work, then outlook can be a better option as it provides seamless integration with MS office applications like Word, Powerpoint, Excel etc. Users can send the documents using ‘share’ option from within the application as they are integrated. This is better suited if users have designated laptops/desktops. Whereas Gmail is a better option if your employees don’t use MS suite often and also your business needs an online storage space to store the official documents. Gmail offers a storage space to store MS documents like Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc. In addition to secure storage, these documents can be edited online which makes it very convenient to share the edited documents instantly without sending them through email. Your business processes and the workplace integration need can help you decide either of the two.
Gmail offers 15GB free storage space across Gmail, Google Drive and Google Photo for free accounts, whereas premium paid platform ‘GSuite’ provides 30GB at basic level ($5user/month). Outlook on the other hand offers 50GB specifically for your inbox, with their cheapest plan (Office 365 Enterprise E1), and 1TB for the rest of your linked cloud office suite.
Gmail provides instant messaging and video conferencing service through Google Hangout, but the unpaid version allows only up to nine individuals in a video chat. The participants can be increased to 25 with paid service (Gsuite). Outlook provides video conferencing and instant messaging through Skype, again up to 25 users can join a conference at a time. In fact, in both the applications, external users can join if provided with a meeting link. In terms of service quality both of them are similar.
Gmail provides a lot of customization options like labels, automatic sorting, primary, social and promotion segregation for mails, different kinds of flagging etc. which enable tweaking the inbox as per your needs. Considering Google is the best search engine in the present time, Gmail’s search function is also superior. Apart from that Google’s recent advancement in artificial intelligence provides automation features like reply suggestions. Coming to Outlook, it provides most relevant buttons on the top horizontal bar (basic three-panel design) where they are clearly visible and let the users add plugins as per their requirements. Gmail is a winner here in terms of the customization features it provides as compared to Outlook.
Offline email access
Outlook provides a clear advantage here by enabling users to access mails offline and they can even save their responses to emails offline. As soon as the internet connection is established, the saved emails from outbox are sent out automatically. Gmail provides access to only last month’s email offline by changing the settings to save mails offline, but you can access Gmail offline only on Google Chrome and Safari browsers. There is no such restriction for Outlook.
Gmail has been in the limelight mostly because of its pioneering efforts for security. It came up with two-factor authentication before Microsoft did for any of its email clients. With Outlook 2016, Outlook also implemented two-factor authentication. Hence, in terms of signing in signing in both of them have similar approach at present.
Google uses its robust machine learning capabilities to detect suspicious logins and block most advanced types of spam. Note that Google also automatically scans every email attachment before a user downloads it in order to prevent spread of viruses.
Office 365 comes with Exchange Online Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) – a new email filtering service that provides additional protection by targeting specific advanced threats like unknown malware and viruses, real-time, time-of-click protection against malicious URLs.
Both Gmail and Outlook are powerful platforms. Gmail is cheaper, and if you’re choosing which office suite platform to use, that’s a huge consideration. Apart from that there are numerous integrations with third-party apps (example: TeamWave) and extension support via Chrome that put Gmail far ahead of Outlook. In our experience Gmail offers better returns for small businesses.