Head to Head: Google Apps vs Microsoft Office 365

Mary Branscombe compares the enterprise versions of both and her conclusions may surprise you...

Administration interface

As cloud services, you manage Google Apps and Office 365 online. Despite the simple layout, the Google Apps control panel is confusing until you learn where everything is. Options are scattered between Domain Settings, Settings, Advanced tools and the various links from the Dashboard tab which duplicate the Settings hierarchy. The Dashboard is also cluttered with adverts for optional tools in the Google App marketplace and adverts for new features.

The Google Apps admin page is cluttered with adverts for new features and third-party tools.

The Google Apps admin page is cluttered with adverts for new features and third-party tools.

The Office 365 admin console is cleaner and better laid out, with a pane for switching between managing users, services and domain, clear explanations of what the main management tools are for next to the links to manage them. There are also handy shortcuts at the bottom of the window and links to relevant resources and community discussions.

By comparison, the Office 365 dashboard is clear and well laid out; you can see immediately what to do.

By comparison, the Office 365 dashboard is clear and well laid out; you can see immediately what to do.

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Google Apps has two levels of administration rights; the 'super admin' who has full access and admins to whom you can delegate some administration tasks. You can give different users a different mix of rights but you have to remember who can do what.

Office 365 has five named admin roles; you can give someone the rights to manage billing, passwords, users or services if you don't want them to have full admin rights. If you need more granularity, you can also set up administrator roles for Discovery Management, Records Management, UM (Unified Messaging) Management and other tasks in the Exchange Control Panel. It's more complex than Google Apps, but enterprises will welcome having the option.

Winner: Office 365. Microsoft's administration interface is not only better organised, it's also easier to handle when delegating management rights to others.

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