Office 365 vs. Google Apps: The InfoWorld review
With Office 365 now available in final form, here's what you need to know to decide if Office 365 or Google Apps (or neither) is right for your organizationFollow @woodyleonhard
By contrast, the Google Apps admin options are sparse but well put together. The re-entrant wizard makes a big difference. Google doesn't touch Active Directory or any of the other complex server functions.
I give Office 365 a 7 for its admin tools and Google Apps a 9, but note that Google's job is much, much simpler. There just isn't that much a Google Apps admin has to do -- or can do, depending on how you look at it.
Value: Investment vs. impulse buy
Google Apps runs $5 per user per month, with no contract required. If you want to pay for a year in advance, it's $50 a head. If you have 10 or fewer email addresses to shepherd, you can get the basic Google Apps package free. The other Google products that I mention in the Features section are all free, all the time.
In the Microsoft tradition, Office 365 pricing is complex, even Byzantine. You can see some of the details in Microsoft's Office 365 Fact Sheet (Word file), but to see all of the options, you need to wade through the Subscription Plans site. At the risk of oversimplifying, prices range from $10 per user per month for bare-bones support with no Office license to $27 per user per month for the works.
I give Google a 9 for value. Office 365's value depends in no small part on whether you need or want to include Office Professional Plus 2010 licenses with the bundle. Assuming your company already has seat licenses for Office, I give Microsoft a 7, but if Microsoft offers you a rebate or discount for your current licenses, the equation changes considerably.
Reliability: The uptime factor
One final point didn't make it into the numerical comparison charts: reliability. Whereas Google has been offering Google Apps in various versions since 2006, Microsoft is trying to present Office 365 as a completely new system. Certainly one of the reasons for Microsoft's fresh new face is that 365's predecessor, BPOS, has achieved no small amount of notoriety for its reliability record -- or lack thereof.
Last year, BPOS crashed for protracted periods of time on Aug. 23, Sept. 3, and Sept. 7. In response, Microsoft apologized, starting a new service called the Microsoft Online Service Health Dashboard that's supposed to keep customers advised on outages. Two problems: The Dashboard is visible only to paying BPOS customers, and it doesn't work when you need it the most.
BPOS went down at least three times last month. During those three outages, the Health Dashboard was useless. Worse than useless: It reported no problems, while there clearly were extensive outages. On June 22 -- yes, just last week -- BPOS went down again. At the same time, the Health Dashboard stopped working altogether.
In response to the latest debacle, the MSOnline group tweeted, "O365 should provide a more stable service. It is built from ground up new and reports and expectations are very good." There was no mention of the lapses with the Health Dashboard.