After years of incremental upgrades, Google and Microsoft are taking business video conferencing seriously. Hangouts Meet (via G Suite) and Skype for Business (via Office 365) are the companies' video conferencing solutions and what makes this particularly interesting is that most people are already familiar with both due to their consumer-friendly siblings Hangouts and Skype. But in order for you to answer the question, "What's better: Hangouts Meet vs Skype for Business?", we've put together a guide to address that.
Below is a quick comparison of Skype for Business and Hangouts Meet that covers the differences in features and price.
Skype for Business
Some features for Skype for business include:
Support for up-to 250 people, regardless of whether they have a Skype for Business account
Manage employee accounts and their roles
Schedule and broadcast meetings for up to 10,000 attendees
Enterprise-level grade security
1080p HD video
Skype's broadcasting features are particularly interesting because you can use your mobile device as a controller for the meeting. There are four different roles available for broadcast: Organizer, producer, event team member (e.g. guest speakers), and attendee. The broadcast can also be recorded for viewing after the event. There's also an interesting feature using a Microsoft Pulse plugin that allows for real-time voting and engagement.
A word on PBX integration
For select users, Skype for Business has also incorporated IVR features such as automated answering, call routing, and call queues. The aim is to replace your office phone setup with a fully Skyped-out solution that includes an auto attendant so that if someone called, an automated voice service could put them on hold or direct them to the appropriate line. If you're interested in finding out more about IVR features, check out this write up from Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet.
Being part of the Microsoft family, Skype for Business (formerly Lync) is heavily integrated into the Office 365 suite. That means PowerPoint will natively integrate with your broadcasts and your (and others) Outlook calendar can be used for scheduling meetings. Outside of the Microsoft ecosystem, Skype for Business also integrates with popular apps such as Slack and RingCentral Office.
Note: When I'm referring to Hangouts, I'm referring to its video conferencing feature which is called Hangouts Meet. I'm not referring to the corresponding chat feature which Google calls Hangouts Chat.
Some features for Hangouts Meet include:
Support for up-to 25 (Basic plan) or 30 (Enterprise plan) people
Meeting accessible via URL with no external plugins necessary
The option to create a number for dialing into meetings (Enterprise plan)
HD quality video
Third-party plugins and apps such as YouTube
In the past, video conferencing has been cumbersome due to clumsy plugins that needed to be downloaded. Google tries to make this as painless as possible by creating a landing page that syncs with Google Calendar and makes joining the meeting as simple as clicking a button; there's no extra need for extra software or plugins.
Just as Skype integrates with Office 365, Hangouts integrates with the G Suite apps. This includes Gmail, Sheets, and Google Calendar. Many companies will find this extremely appealing if they began their business using the free version of G Suite. Since it is made by Google, Hangouts meet also integrates with other Google products such as Youtube. Hangouts Meet allows you to broadcast your presentations live to Youtube and creates a link (you decide if it's searchable) for access later.
The pricing for both of these apps will likely depend on if you're already using one of the productivity suites. We'll go over some basics, but make sure to check out the official pricing page for each because it can vary by country.
Skype for Business
Skype for Business is available as a standalone product or via Office 365:
Standalone Skype for Business: $2.00 per user per month. That gets you the bare minimum for Skype for Business.
Standalone Skype for Business online meetings: $5.50 per user per month with an annual commitment. That includes the features mentioned above.
Office 365 Business Essentials: $5.00 per user per month with an annual commitment. That includes Skype for Business plus online versions of Office, email with 50 GB per user, and 1 TB of file storage and sharing per user.
Office 365 Business Premium: $12.50 per user per month with an annual commitment. Everything mentioned previously, plus locally-installed (PC/Mac) Office and mobile Office apps.
Hangouts Meet is not available without G Suite.
G Suite has two billing plans:
Flexible: Billed monthly for each user account. Accounts can be added and removed at any time and you only pay for the accounts used during that month. Perhaps most importantly, you can cancel your service at any time without penalty
Annual Plan: You agree to sign up for a year for a discount. If you cancel early, you'll still have to pay for the full year. There are some restrictions that apply, so it's probably better that you speak to a customer service rep if you're interested in this option.
Otherwise, G Suite is divided into three different plans:
Basic: $5 per user per month. It includes features such as a business email through Gmail, smart shared calendars, Hangouts, and 30GB of cloud storage.
Business: $10 per user per month. It includes the same stuff as basic, plus unlimited features such as cloud storage, advanced security controls, and audit reports.
Enterprise: Call for a quote. It includes the same features as the previous two plans, plus more technical controls that include data loss prevention and analysis.
Both of these apps put a lot of stake into the native integrations from each of their respective productivity suites. If your company is already using one of these suites, I think it makes sense to seriously considering using the corresponding video conferencing app. Google and Microsoft are both eager to make waves in the cloud-based business space, and it's likely that they'll continue pouring in cash to develop each.
If your company is not married to a productivity suite yet, then do more research into each and try a demo of each (which is always a good policy) in order for you and your team/company to get a feel for the apps. Otherwise, check out some of the articles below for some of the related coverage we've done on the topic and check out our comparison of Microsoft Office 365 and G Suite.