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Which email application is right for you: Outlook or Gmail?

In the modern cloud-connected world ubiquitous access to email, files and contacts is key to your productivity and effectiveness—at work and in your personal life. The Microsoft email solution comprised of Outlook and Outlook Web App (OWA) can not only increase your productivity, but also ensure you can collaborate with others, right within your email, in a highly secure environment.

However, only you can decide which email solution is right for you. To help with that decision, we have created an interactive infographic that shows a side-by-side comparison of OWA, Outlook and Gmail. This infographic will answer most of your questions at a glance, while also providing links to more detailed information.

Overview of feature areas to compare Outlook to Gmail.

Nothing is more fundamental to your satisfaction with an email program than your ability to manage your inbox efficiently. Both Outlook and Gmail allow you to ignore unwanted email and change the layout of the reading pane, but Gmail won’t let you create rules, insert Microsoft Word editing and formatting tools or cells from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets into email, or send email with high, medium or low importance. In addition, Gmail gives you only limited ability to flag, categorize and sort email, and to drag and drop attachments into email messages. The Microsoft email solution offers all of those features and more.

Performing intelligent triage
One of the exciting new features coming soon to OWA is code-named “Clutter,” a program that removes unimportant messages from your inbox and declutters it, allowing you to focus on important messages. It does so by learning from your treatment of similar emails in the past. If you always respond quickly to email from your boss, Clutter makes such emails display more prominently. If you tend to ignore your cousin’s emailed vacation photos, Clutter puts those messages aside for you to deal with later. And the more you use Clutter, the smarter it gets. Gmail offers only a very limited version of clutter control by redirecting bulk email to a few pre-set tabs. This is very static when compared to Clutter in OWA, which provides individual decluttering based on each user’s activity.

Accessing your email offline
Having the ability to access email offline, and to continue working when no Internet connection is available, is important to people on the go. Outlook desktop client provides complete offline access, and OWA allows you to access your email offline using a wide range of browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer 10 (with HTML 5 support). Gmail users are limited to using only the Google Chrome browser to access their email offline.

Collecting and coordinating your contacts
With each of these three email applications you can create contact cards and import contacts when you switch from another email program or adopt a new email address. OWA and Outlook go several steps further, however, enabling you to view team and hierarchical organization information through your company address book via Active Directory integration, and to import your contacts from social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Gmail doesn’t.

Managing your calendar
A truly functional calendar does more than show you the day, week and month, find an available meeting room, and determine whether your contacts are free or busy at a certain time. Gmail does all that, and so do the two Microsoft applications. But OWA and Outlook also let you see who forwarded your meeting notice and to whom, while providing other useful features that Gmail lacks, and Outlook allows you to propose a new time if you have a conflict with a suggested meeting.

Granting a delegate access to your calendar
Busy people sometimes need help managing their lives. For executives, managers or other people who must constantly juggle competing priorities and demands, the ability to choose a delegate and give that person access to your calendar can be a godsend. OWA and Outlook not only enable you to share your calendar like Google does, they also let you hide private events from your delegate, downgrade permission rights when it suits you, and choose to have notifications sent only to your delegate or to both you and your delegate simultaneously. Both Microsoft applications also let you give your delegate access to individual folders as needed. Gmail offers none of those delegation features.

Getting real with real-time communications
All three applications offer instant messaging and presence, which lets you know the status and availability of your contacts and how they can be reached. But Gmail offers no unified messaging integration with voicemail and the ability to skip to any part of the voicemail, or even one-click “Reply All” on instant messaging. Both OWA and Outlook do allow that via Lync.

Taking advantage of enterprise social technologies
Enterprise social is still pretty new, but it’s a rapidly growing trend in technology solutions designed to improve communication and collaboration both inside and outside organizations. Microsoft has either already added or has announced new email features that support enterprise social and position both OWA and Outlook for rich integration. The jury is still out on Gmail.

Security and compliance
In today’s complex world, few things are as important in business or personal communications as security and compliance. Although each of the three applications lets you add email senders to your safe or blocked lists, block external content, and access your archiving folder, that’s where the similarities between the Google and Microsoft products end. Unlike OWA and Outlook, Gmail does not offer Information Rights Management, document fingerprinting, or native Data Loss Prevention measures. Gmail also fails to provide protected voicemail and retention policies that can be set at the user level.

Google claims that Gmail is “good enough” in comparison to the Microsoft email platform, which is a combination of the web version of Outlook and Outlook desktop client. Both OWA and Outlook (as part of the Office 365 suite) offer many valuable features that Gmail (as part of Google Apps for Business) does not. Why settle for email that is merely “good enough” when Microsoft offers an excellent email solution that doesn’t force you to compromise?

To learn more about the different features and capabilities that Outlook Web App, Outlook, and Gmail have to offer, download the infographic.

You can also view a slideshow illustrating the great features of Outlook Web App and Outlook.

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6 comments
  1. In the paragraph on “Granting a delegate access to your calendar”, you might want to change “her” to “them”, just a tad sexist.

  2. Why is it still no Reply/Forward State sync both ways. With Outlook 2013 and Outlook.com?

  3. “Gmail won’t let you create rules, insert Microsoft Word editing and formatting tools or cells from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets into email, or send email with high, medium or low importance. In addition, Gmail gives you only limited ability to flag, categorize and sort email, and to drag and drop attachments into email messages”

    Gmail does all this when used within outlook, also gmail is much faster at delivering emails, 2 to 3 seconds, outlook.com can take up to 15 minutes

  4. One of the worst thing about Microsoft’s email application on Windows 8 is that it doesn’t support tasks. No way to get a coherent experience. In that matter, Google is way better.
    Tasks on Windows Phone are but poorly supported (no direct access, no live tiles). And OneNote, contrary to Evernote, won’t help much (no dates, no reminders, no live tiles).
    Please give us a full-featured tasks tool for Windows and Windows Phone, implemented with a direct access and designated live tiles that show created lists of tasks.

  5. Outlook.com is great.. but my main concern is team is not updating with features fast enough. There are many features which they can include it like
    1. Directly save to OneDrive
    2. Open all types link in new tab
    3. When we get an attachment and click on that , the attachment opens in the same tab instead it should open up in the new window. This will improve the productivity.
    4. I use onenote heavily and many times i do WINDOWS KEY + S for a screenshot and copy it to my email.. here is the problem
    in outlook.com , i can’t directly paste the images.. i have to copy to mspaint, save it as image and then insert.. this is a huge productivity loss.
    5. On OneDrive : let’s say i want to move all *.docx files to my documents folder so i will search for those list of files and select to move it.. but it will not allow me to move multiple files. i have to move one by one.. this is not good.

    Like wise there are many important features they can put into a release and give it to consumers.

    Don’t get me wrong but gmail allows all of the above easily. I keep satisfying my self saying one day outlook.com will have this feature.. but slowly i am losing my patience :)

    I really don’t want to move out of outlook.com. so hope team have planned something better for future release.

    Also i still don’t have the undo feature to my account. .it was rolled out in May and was told that it will be available in coming weeks.. it has been months now.

  6. Honestly, I like GMail. And I like the Outlook desktop client.
    Things start to go down the drain if you want to use them together. One would think, in 2014, that the most advanced email and calender application would function flawlessly with one of the most widely used email and calender service.
    Alas, No. You can use Outlook for email via the ancient IMAP protocol. Calender integration is not really a thing, other than the ability to subscribe to your Google calender via secret webcal-link. Edit Google calender? Forget it. Use Outlook calender with Google? Not a thing either. Task integration between the two? Keep on dreaming.
    I understand that you, Microsoft, and Google are competing companies.
    I understand that, but I just don’t care! And probably thousands of other people are thinking the same thing. Nowadays, people and businesses alike are likely to use multiple services, either for different purposes or redundancy. Point is, the reason does not matter. What matters is, you can not offer them a seamless experience, and that is your fault in their eyes (and mine!).
    Besides, from a competitive standpoint, it would only benefit you to achieve this – because even when using Google services, the costumer would be only facing Microsoft tools.

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