In 2020, people around the globe are more in touch with each other than ever before. Whatsapp, Slack, Telegram and other messaging services allow instant communication – but despite all this excitement in the IM world, email still reigns supreme. Over 3.9 billion people around the world use email to communicate, and that number continues to grow.
The email market is still dominated by two big players: Google and Microsoft. Both Gmail and Outlook have their fans and detractors, but which is better?
Organisation and design
There’s obviously a great deal of subjectivity involved, with many users feeling loyalty to one brand or the other. Outlook is probably more user-friendly for newcomers, because it features the standard Microsoft Office style of organisation. Folders and subfolders can be created in a manner that is familiar to anyone who has grown up with Windows.
Gmail, on the other hand, uses a system of labels, tabs, marks and stars. This can be difficult to get to grips with at first, but rewarding when used effectively. Having said this, many Gmail users never bother to explore the more advanced features of inbox organisation. Ultimately, the utility of any email system depends on how the user engages with it.
In 2020, a basic email system isn’t enough for most businesses. Both Gmail and Outlook offer a number of add-ons and extensions, designed to make your life easier.
One of Outlook’s most useful tools is Docsend. Not only does it allow files to be shared securely, it gives users the chance to see who is reading their documents – and how much they read. This is great for anyone who has to send out proposals as part of their job, as well as giving managers the chance to check if workers are actually reading vital documents. Ultimately, though, while tools like this are useful, Outlook lags behind in this area.
Gmail really shines in the world of add-ons. Perhaps the most useful is Right Inbox, a simple but elegant tool which offers templates, multiple signature options, and more. However, there are literally hundreds of other Gmail add-ons available, offering users everything from personality analysis of a contact to more powerful to-do lists.
Both email services offer some free options, but Gmail’s is far better developed. Most Outlook users pay for Office 365, Microsoft’s flagship suite which also contains Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Gmail offers more flexible payment plans, including the opportunity to pay on a monthly basis. This makes it a more attractive choice for start-ups – but many people will feel that, if they need the rest of the Office suite, they might as well pay for Outlook.
The bottom line
Gmail offers more modern solutions, and is generally more attractive to younger, more tech-savvy users. However, Outlook is not a dinosaur in the market. Those who have used it for a long time won’t want to switch – and its position as part of the ubiquitous Office 365 suite means it’s likely to stay around.