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January 31, 2023 | Updated on: April 11, 2024 | Reading time 13 minutes

Gmail vs. Outlook: Which is Best for SMBs?

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Vice President of Product

Coffee or tea, dogs or cats, cold season or hot season? Some choices are easy to make but not this one. What will be best for your business? Let’s dive deep into Gmail vs. Outlook comparison for SMBs.

Gmail vs. Outlook Comparison – Limitations

Before talking in detail about the differences between Gmail and Outlook, we need to set the framework for it.

1. This article is specifically written with small and medium businesses’ needs in mind.

Both individuals and enterprises will have different requirements when choosing between the tools.

2. We focus on helping SMBs choose a web email client for their business.

The following solutions are beyond the scope of this article:

  • The on-prem Outlook tool
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • Google email service
  • Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace.

3. Both email clients today exist as part of a larger offering of collab tools.

Gmail and Outlook are part of Google Workspace (former G Suite) and Microsoft Office 365, respectively. When choosing between them, you need to understand the differences between the two collab suites.

With these prerequisites in mind, let’s help you understand which web email client is the best for your SMB: Outlook or Gmail.

Gmail and Outlook Overview

The History of Gmail and Outlook

The idea of creating a web email service was ‘brooding’ in the 1990s, before the Internet boom. For example, Phillip Hallam-Baker developed the first HTTP protocol stack for CERN in 1993 (although it was never deployed). The idea was to create an email client that can be accessed from any point in the world with an Internet connection.

On 4 July 1996, two American businessmen, Sabeer Bhatia and Jack Smith, launched Hotmail. It was free and gained extreme popularity along with its competitor of the time, RocketMail (later acquired by Yahoo!).

By the time Microsoft purchased Hotmail in 1997, the number of its subscribers allegedly had reached 8.5 million. The company managed to multiply the success by almost four times over two years, increasing this number to 30M in 1999.

Interestingly, the tool’s vulnerability, discovered and exploited by hackers in 1999, was one of the largest cyber incidents of the time. In 2007, Microsoft launched a new email system keeping Hotmail in the name until 2012. In 2015, Outlook’s email service became part of the Office 365 offering.

Google released its email client in 2004 after three years of development. Notably, Paul Buchheit, the ‘father’ of the Gmail project, worked on creating a web-based email in college in the 1990s. Initially, Gmail was designated solely for Google employees. However,

The ‘novelty’ of Gmail that contributed largely to its popularity was the speed of work. The email client was developed on JavaScript, unlike its main competitors of the time, Hotmail and Yahoo!, which used HTML. Two years after its public release, Gmail became part of Google Apps, which changed its brand name to G Suite in 2016 and Google Workspace in 2020.

Gmail Overview

Gmail is a web email client, part of Google Workspace. GW has a free version for individuals and four paid plans for companies: Business Starter, Business Standard, Business Plus, and Enterprise.

In terms of Gmail, these plans offer similar features:

The difference is how much storage per user your business gets: from 30 GB in Starter Plan to unlimited storage in Enterprise. Keep in mind that the storage you get per user will be used by all the Google Services (Google Drive, Gmail, Calendar, etc.). Also, all plans except for Enterprise have a maximum limit of 300 users per plan. SMBs usually purchase Starter, Standard, or Plus.

We’ll talk more about the main Gmail features below.

Related Link: How to Upgrade From Google Workspace Basic to Business

Microsoft Outlook Overview

Microsoft Outlook is an email client, part of the MSO 365 suite of collaboration tools. It can be synchronized with the on-prem Outlook solution for those businesses that have purchased Office and thus work without internet connection.

There are four Microsoft plans for SMBs. Three of them include the Microsoft Outlook web email client: Business Basic, Business Standard, and Business Premium. Apps for Business Plan only has on-prem solutions and, similarly to three plans for enterprises, is beyond the scope of this article.

Gmail vs. Outlook: Pricing

As you can see in the comparison table above, the difference between Basic, Standard, and Premium in terms of email service is minor. The Premium subscriber gets an Archive and data retention policy. All three plans have 50 GB of free storage per user.

Gmail vs Outlook: Main Features

Gmail vs. Outlook: Features

In this section, we’ll talk about specific features of Outlook and Gmail that make the user experience better.

Text Suggestions

Both email clients have this set of features: Text Predictions and Suggest Replies (Outlook) and Smart Compose, and Smart Reply (Gmail). Basically, these features offer a quick reply to an email and enable you to enter certain words in one click.

Example of Smart Reply by Gmail:

Gmail vs. Outlook: Smart Reply

These features enable your employees to decrease their writing time, find appropriate words and remove the writing block. It also helps people with disabilities (e.g., dyslexia) and non-native speakers to feel more confident in their writing.

Here’s an example of the feature in Gmail:

Gmail vs. Outlook: Text Suggestinons

Schedule Send

Working in different time zones? No problem. Just schedule your email sending for later. Both Gmail and Microsoft Outlook have this feature:

Gmail vs. Outlook: Email scehduling

Immediate Send Cancellation

Did your employees click Send by mistake? They can set up up to 10 seconds in Outlook and up to 30 seconds in Gmail time to undo the sending.

Sensitive Emails

This feature can provide you with advanced security. The sender can mark the sensitivity level of an email in Outlook or set Confidential mode in Gmail:

Gmail vs. Outlook: Confidential mode

Gmail vs. Outlook: Design

Contrary to popular belief, design isn’t a matter of only aesthetics. Modern concepts of web design have long evolved from this narrow vision. It’s about user experience, which goes beyond the color of the background.

How many buttons do you need to press to send an email to another user? How easily can you find a necessary feature? Is it located in a place most users check first? Overall, how intuitive is your interface? Astonishingly, we couldn’t find many articles dedicated to the analysis of Gmail or Microsoft Outlook UI/UX.

So here are just two most interesting comparisons to think about.

  1. Nussi Einhorn, a UX/UI designer, conducted a poll in late 2022, asking his audience which UX is better. And found that 81% of 744 voters preferred Gmail.
Gmail vs. Outlook: UX poll
  1. Holly McKee compared the mobile apps Gmail and Outlook in 2016. She found that from UX standpoint, Microsoft Outlook is better.

The most frequent requests from UI/UX designers to Gmail and Outlook:

  • Enable the selection of multiple emails by dragging the mouse (or finger) rather than point-clicking on them (for both email client tools).
  • Mark as read upon opening an email in Microsoft Outlook (we’d suggest making this feature adjustable).
  • Improve search in Outlook.
  • Add the Unsubscribe feature to Outlook.
  • Fix the pop-up problem in Gmail.
  • Unlike Outlook, Gmail performs the send command even if the attachment hasn’t been uploaded yet. It saves time.
  • In Outlook, any email is opened in a new window in addition to the sidebar. In Gmail, you need to use Ctr+click or Shift+click to do it (and not all users know it).
  • People with short-sightedness might experience Outlook font better.

Gmail vs. Outlook: Storage and Attachment Limitations

There’s a difference between storage in Gmail and Outlook. Outlook has assigned 50 GB of storage for SMB plans. In Google Workspace, email client doesn’t have storage limits. Users can take as much as they want from the overall storage space assigned for the respective plans.

General Storage per user in Google Workspace SMB Plans:

  • Business Starter – 30 GB
  • Business Standard – 2 TB
  • Business Plus – 5 TB

Outlook Storage per user in Microsoft Office 365 SMB Plans

  • Business Basic – 50 GB
  • Business Standard – 50 GB
  • Business Premium – 50 GB

Attachments limitations for Outlook and Gmail

The limitation for Gmail attachment size is 25 MB. If the file exceeds it, Gmail offers to upload the file to your Google Drive and then grant access to your recipient.

The limitation in Outlook web email client is 34 MB (for on. Similarly to Gmail, you can upload the file to OneDrive (up to 2 GB in size) and send the link.

Gmail vs. Outlook: Pricing Options

The pricing options:

Google Workspace:

  • Business Starter – $6
  • Business Standard – $12
  • Business Plus – 18$

Microsoft Office 365

Pricing for SMB Plans per user per month:

  • Business Basic – $6
  • Business Standard – $12.50
  • Business Premium – $ 22

Pricing comparison for Gmail and Microsoft Outlook

Overall, Gmail pricing looks like a better offer for most plans except for the cheapest ones. Microsoft 365 Business Basic has 50 GB of email storage space as part of 1 TB of overall storage. Meanwhile, Google Workspace Business Starter has only 30 GB of overall storage.

Google’s second tier is slightly cheaper, while the storage space is much bigger than that of Microsoft: 2 TB vs. 1 TB. Finally, the third tier costs $4 less and provides 5 TB of free storage.

There are three factors that you should also take into account when comparing prices:

  • Microsoft Outlook is generally considered safer than Google.
  • There are other features of Google Workspace and Microsoft Office that we haven’t included in this price comparison.
  • Many SaaS apps for MSO 365 cost more than their alternatives for GW because most clients of MSO are enterprises that can pay more.

Gmail vs. Outlook: Security

There isn’t much consent about the security level of both solutions. Many experts claim that Outlook offers better protection, but we also found articles that claim otherwise.

List of security features that both Gmail and Outlook have in common

  • Two-factor authentication
  • Anti-spam
  • Filters for Phishing and malware
  • Blocking senders
  • Encryption

What is critical to remember is that none of them has 100% protection against ransomware. That’s why you need to back up your data for advanced security.

Gmail vs. Outlook: Customization

Overall, both Outlook and Gmail provide good customization options like:

  • Theme
  • Dark/normal mode
  • Grouping emails
  • Reading Pane

They can help an individual create an email reading experience that fits best their needs.

Gmail vs. Outlook: Administration

Both Admin Centers for Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365 are a heavy lift for Admins. This is especially critical for small businesses where oftentimes a founder has to play an Administration role.

Luckily, many valuable guides can help you manage your Outlook and Gmail better. Check out our articles dedicated to it:

6 Google Workspace Admin Roles

Office 365 Admin Tasks

Backup for Gmail and Outlook

As mentioned above, the security features of Gmail or Outlook aren’t enough to protect data stored in an email account. At the same time, the number of attacks on SMBs is growing each year.

That’s why many professionals suggest small and medium businesses back up the data on their multiple email accounts and acquire ransomware protection tools.

Here’s an example of one such tool. Meet SpinBackup, a data protection platform with backup functionality that goes as a separate offering for SMBs.

SpinBackup - Backup for Microsoft 365 Outlook and Google Workspace Gmail

It seamlessly works with both web Outlook and Gmail. In addition to multiple email accounts, it also backs up GW and MSO 365 services like Drive, Contacts/People, Calendar, etc.

Learn more about SpinBackup for Gmail.

Check out SpinBackup capabilities for Outlook.

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Vice President of Product

About Author

Davit Asatryan is the Vice President of Product at Spin.AI

He is responsible for executing product strategy by overseeing the entire product lifecycle, with a focus on developing cutting-edge solutions to address the evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats.

He has been with the company for over 5 years and specializes in SaaS Security, helping organizations battle Shadow IT, ransomware, and data leak issues.

Prior to joining Spin.AI, Davit gained experience by working in fintech startups and also received his Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley. In his spare time, Davit enjoys traveling, playing soccer and tennis with his friends, and watching sports of any kind.

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