Having an email address is like having a phone
number: Once it’s out in the world, you don’t want to change it.
Aside from the estimated 30% of email
addresses that change each year–most of which are business emails–most people
probably wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of transferring contacts,
redirecting people to the new email address, or hunting down every site,
subscription, and bill payee to update their email address on file.
However, sometimes people have a good reason
to make a massive move from one digital locale to another. It could be your
email provider is outdated and can’t keep up with the modern paragons; or maybe
your provider is shuttering and you need to find a new home.
Most people don’t really have a good concept of what’s out there and what differentiates one email service from another. But the fact is, Microsoft Outlook and Google Gmail have become the two most exemplary platforms for managing what has almost become an essential aspect of life.
What makes these two email providers better,
worse, different, or the same in comparison with each other? When it comes to
free personal plans, the nuances between Outlook and Gmail are likely
insignificant to most users. That’s why, here, we’ll focus on comparing each
service’s subscription-based business plan, so you can decide which one makes
more sense for you or your company and employees.
Look, Feel and Cost
Let’s get this out of the way. Outlook and
Gmail offer very different interfaces. To put it simply, Outlook maintains a
corporate feel, while Gmail offers something a little more creative and
startup-like. If Outlook is the modern take on corporate communications, Gmail
Outlook’s interface is packed with options and
customizable features, many of which you or your employees will never end up
using. While Gmail offers its own set of functionality, it’s overall a much
simpler user experience focused on providing the essentials you need to be
When it comes to purchasing these email services, you’re actually purchasing the suites they come with, Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Suite. One thing to keep in mind is Office 365 requires an annual commitment, though you’re charged monthly. G Suite is purely a monthly subscription plan based on headcount. Here’s how these price out per user per month.
|Office 365||G Suite|
|Office 365 Business Essentials: $5||G Suite Basic: $6|
|Office 365 Business: $8.25||G Suite Business: $12|
|Office 365 Business Premium: $12.50||G Suite Enterprise: $25|
Again, when you buy Outlook or Gmail for business, you’re really buying more than just an email service. You’re buying a suite of tools, of which email is but one.
When it comes to what makes Office 365 and G Suite different, it’s really a comparison between an incumbent and its disruptor. We’ll cover more of what makes these two suites the same and different in a future article, but here are some of the contrasting aspects that stand out.
Microsoft Office 365
We’ve all used Microsoft Word, Excel and
PowerPoint. These are the core tenets of Office, but Office 365 offers even
more. Today, These three programs are available online, not just as desktop
programs, making the work you do in them easier to save and share. In addition,
365 gives you:
- Outlook for email
- OneDrive for cloud file storage
- OneNote, a digital notebook
- SharePoint, a corporate intranet
- Microsoft Teams for instant messaging and
These few apps offer extensive capabilities
that have come to define the way businesses operate internally at digital
scale. It’s a huge draw that Microsoft has successfully consolidated so much
into these tools to simplify the experience it offers businesses.
Google G Suite
While G Suite offers its own array of
applications that are on par with Microsoft’s staple products–plus more. G
Suite’s alternatives to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are Docs, Sheets, and
Slides. But G Suite offers even more that would be useful for any business:
- Calendar for easy team scheduling
- Currents for company wide discussions
- Hangouts Chat for instant messaging
- Hangouts Meet for video conferencing
- Forms for creating surveys and forms
- Sites for creating websites
- App Builder for creating business apps
- Keep for organizing ideas
- Jamboard, a digital whiteboard
- Drive for storing and sharing files
- Google Cloud Search to search across G Suite
- Admin, Vault, and Mobile for securely managing
users, devices and data
Clearly, there’s a lot to consider here. Outlook
consolidates a lot into the few yet robust applications it offers. Google
offers a seemingly much wider range of capabilities spread out across several
applications, some of which Office 365 doesn’t offer at all.
When you’re in business, emails are nonstop;
and they’re more than just vehicles for conversing. Emails are vessels of
knowledge that professionals use to make business decisions, some of which are
mission-critical. If you can’t keep conversations and information prioritized and
organized, it’s going to be difficult to work effectively and efficiently at
the speed of business and avoid compromising quality outcomes.
If you think about traditional, pre-digital
methods of organization, folders and files probably come to mind. As
digitization is essentially the process of taking tangible activities and
abstracting them into digital processes, one would naturally assume creating
email folders and files is the natural course of action.
This is how Outlook works. It uses a traditional
folder system and allows you to categorize emails within those folders using
colored tabs, just like you would with an expandable file. You can create as
many folders and subfolders as you’d like. Outlook also does its best to
prioritize emails by filtering out those you would consider clutter. These go
to the Clutter folder to stay out of your way until you’re ready to view them.
In description, it may come across as there
being only a slight nuance between how Gmail and Outlook organize email;
however, in actively using Gmail’s system, the organization and prioritization
method is noticeably different.
Rather than abstracting the traditional
“folder, file” method, Gmail uses labels. You can tag messages with multiple
labels, rather than put them in a folder.
You can customize Gmail to show Important,
Unread, and Starred emails first. It can also automatically filters emails by Primary,
Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums. This prioritization and organization
system makes it really easy to identify which emails are most important to you
and get to them fast.
Despite these differences in Gmail, what’s
interesting is if you’re using Gmail through another email client (such as
Outlook) its labels will show up as folders. In one sense, this makes Gmail
more versatile and capable of providing a more flexible user experience.
Search goes hand in hand with organization
when it comes to email. If you can’t quickly and efficiently find the
information you need, which is potentially buried in an email from months ago,
you’re going to end up wasting valuable time hunting things down instead of
Outlook’s search function is good enough in
that you can hunt down emails across all your folders, including thousands of
emails in your Deleted folder, based on keyword and email address. Where
Outlook can sometimes fall short is accuracy.
Searching on a keyword doesn’t always pull up
the correct email or emails, and there’s always a chance Outlook will pull up
only a select few emails from a chain, yet leave out the one email you need.
While it works well most of the time, it certainly doesn’t employ the same
level of search functionality as an email service from Google.
Gmail’s search functionality is imbued with
Google’s search power, which is also why Gmail was created in the first place:
to provide an email service that operates like Google’s search engine. Not only
can you search on simple terms and trust that Gmail will serve up the correct
results, you can also use advanced search operators like “from:,” “to:,”
“shortcut:,” and several more that can help you find specifically what you
While there are several key features both
Gmail and Outlook provide to varying degrees of detailed functionality, one
major function each does quite differently is email recall. The difference in
operation is worth highlighting because most people, at some point, experience
the nerve wracking situation of sending the wrong email to the wrong person or
sending something they shouldn’t have at all.
Outlook is great for email recall and replace. As long as the email
address you sent an email to is hosted on Microsoft Exchange–the actual email
service Outlook runs on–you have the ability to delete and replace any unread
Of course, if the email has already been
opened, you can’t recall or replace it, but having this capability with unread
messages could save you from embarrassment in the event of sending something
you shouldn’t have, or help you resend a better email with more clarification
rather than sending follow-up emails elaborating one the previous send.
Gmail falls a little short here compared to
Outlook. In fact, Gmail doesn’t even offer legitimate email recall. Instead,
you have a few seconds after sending an email to cancel the send. You can turn
it on or off and adjust the cancelation time to last up to 30 seconds. If you
aren’t quick enough, that baby’s gone for good.
Who Is the King of Email?
When it comes to choosing which email service is best for your business, Outlook and Gmail both offer what you need, one sometimes better than the other. Email is just the start.
It’s the larger systems each belongs to–Office 365 and G Suite–that really make a difference in how your business operates. We’ll cover the differences between these two toolkits in an upcoming article so you can really decide what’s best for your business.
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