Why Microsoft

A blog about Microsoft's strategic and technical differentiation.

Office Web Apps vs. Google Docs - See for Yourself

Office Web Apps vs. Google Docs - See for Yourself

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Top Resources on Why Microsoft Website:  Part 1 of 3

For over two decades, millions of people have been using Microsoft Office to power their businesses.  As we move into the cloud computing age, people expect to share and collaborate with their customers and colleagues with the same level of confidence, whether they are using desktop software or web based services.  We believe a document should look exactly the same in the cloud as the original copy on the desktop.  In today’s post, part 1 of a 3 part series to introduce top resources available on the Why Microsoft web site, you will see a side-by-side comparison of Word Web App vs. Google Documents.  So what's the real cost of Google Apps? See for yourself.

What happens when you take an existing Word document and share it in the cloud? In this demo, you can compare the viewing experience of using the Office Web Apps vs. Google Docs. We took a simple Word file with some of the most commonly used features (header, footer, table, images, etc.) and uploaded it to Google Apps and Windows Live Sky Drive (you can also use SharePoint if applicable). Right away you can see some glaring issues in Google Docs that could significantly affect your business:

Lack of Fit and Finish
The document in Google Docs shows several styling and formatting issues - take a close look at the header, title, and table.  Although these formatting issues may seem small, they affect the overall look and feel of the document making it appear less professional.

Word Web App Result  Google Documents Result

Lost Data and Information
Aside from styling issues, important information could be lost in converting a Word file to Google Docs.  We highlighted a few missing pieces of content in this demo:

  • “Confidential” watermark
  • Revenue Chart
  • Process Map Graphic
  • Footer information
Word Web App Result Google Documents Result

Lost Productivity
There is no ambiguity here whatsoever. The data is lost and the content is altered in your document when using Google Docs to share a Word file. You now have to double check the document for accuracy to make sure all pertinent information is there and then make necessary changes to fix your document before sharing it anywhere.  All this additional time spent reformatting translates to lost productivity.  It does not matter if Google Apps costs $50/user/yr. if it is inadequate for even the simplest business requirements. Most people would not jeopardize their business credibility and ability to deliver professional results.  Would you?

Don’t take my word for it. See the demo for yourself.

If you have already tried Google Docs, tell us your experience in viewing a Word file in the comments below.  Check back next week for Part 2 of Top Resources on Why Microsoft website.

Comments
  • This is great.  I had no idea they stripped out so much from Office documents.  My CIO will love to see this.

  • The funny thing is that this happens to me all the time when simply cutting and pasting from one Word doc to another...

  • Office Web App doesn't support collaboration inside Word. See for yourself.

  • @Felipe: feel free to check out my earlier post on Collaboration with Office Web Apps and Office 2010 (blogs.technet.com/.../collaboration-with-office-web-apps.aspx).

    @Rodger: Let me know if you need any help cutting and pasting.

  • Here's the best solution - don't start in Office - start in Google Apps!

  • @Tom: If you believe people can discard all past work done using Office Word/Excel/PowerPoint and don't need much beyond basic word processing capabilities, then your recommendation might just work. Google employees still use Office. how about you?

  • @Tony Tai, what exactly do Google employees use Office for? How do you know?

  • Impressive.  I have been telling people that OWA are so much more polished than Google Docs.  It's nice to see a concrete example.

    Microsoft and Google have completely different business models.  They are both highly successful but I much prefer to business with Microsoft.  Why?  Because Microsoft's business is about making ME money.  The more productive their tools make ME the more money I have to spend on them.

    Microsoft currently offers experiences catered to Windows, OSX, Web, WP7 and OneNote on iOS.  With Office Web Apps you can use Office on any platform (works best with IE9 btw).  The Excel experience on Windows Phone is near perfect for that device (I say "near" due to the lack of SkyDrive integration which is coming).  What I'm trying to say is that Office tries to make you as productive as possible based on your usage scenario.

    Google on the other hand...  They want you to use the web come hell or high water.  Never mind that HTML was never intended for applications but we still managed to force a square peg into a round hole.  When you wanted offline access did they build a native client?  No, they made Google Gears (now defunct).  When your web browser wasn't powerful enough to have a satisfactory experience did they build a native client?  No, they built a browser. I'm not saying that making the web a better place isn't great.  I'm saying that they only care about business productivity as it relates to web usage.

    Google's only product is advertising and the problem they are trying to solve is increasing that revenue (well, and maybe decreasing Microsoft's revenue -- can't fault them for that).

  • @Ian Ray Are you serious? Wake up and smell the roses. Do you really think Google doesn't use MS Office?? Go to www.google.com.au/.../index.html and see just one example of the types of peole they are looking to hire ie with storng Excel skills. Funny that they aren't asking for someone with strong GAPE skills - but then again they are trying to run a business with some sort of financial rigour and acumen I guess.

  • @PJU It is good to see they are using Hyperion for reporting at least.

    Granted, until web apps can do pivot tables better than Zoho (and no knock on Zoho, they have the best implementation so far imo), finance is going to need desktop programs. Excel is admittedly one of the fastest pivot table programs.

    I do get the impression that Google does not force employees to use any particular software including Office. This is much different than outfits who become "Microsoft shops" and employees cannot use any better solution (e.g. VMWare) until Microsoft decides to include the tech in a product by buying a company or buy a competitor and discontinue them, thus eliminating the option.

  • Its a shame that neither of these offerings hold a candle to the LotusLive set of cloud offerings

  • @Don, LotusLive is nice because of the individual subscriptions to different modules. I think they are competing with Zoho's model in this regard.  The symphony service doesn't require you to subscribe to an email offering which is very welcome. I just wish IBM would give up hope of swaying customers with their halfhearted marketing (like Hyperoffice) and integrate with the Google Marketplace to win dual subscribers (like Zoho).

    Google Docs obviously lacks the ability to subscribe to individual parts. One scenario includes paying $50 for users who have many services turned off in the admin panel or paying full price for just internal email. I've been trying Office 365 since this morning and still can't figure out how to turn off services. I'm sure it's in there... right? In any case, I don't really see the difference between 365 and BPOS, maybe I am missing something. It seems more like the difference between Office Pro and Office Pro Plus than a major software version. I will keep demoing.

  • I agree with OWA is better than Gdocs especially in formatting and styling as the article said. BUT, I'm using GDocs still because of the powerful realtime collaboration feature.

  • Very very tricky post ... It seems they uploaded a view only version of the Word document and compared it to an editable Google Docs conversion.  Try uploading the document in Google without the auto conversion feature and it looks the same as the original.  Try to edit or create the document using MS Live online and you can't (no header, footer, drawing  features).   Very very tricky.

  • @Richard: there is no trick whatsoever. Per you comment, here is the link showing the non-converted document in Google Docs - http://bit.ly/ejlgEQ. File fidelity issues still exist in Google Docs: lost "Confidential" watermark, lost image, and lost chart. Header and footer stayed in this case.

    The documents are both shown as view-only to prevent 3rd party changes. In Office Web Apps edit mode, the viewer only displays content that is editable.  Image, SmartArt, Chart are blocked out to indicate the originals can not be modified (of course you already know these can not be modified without specific applications). When you share the updated document, all images/chart/etc. are shown exactly as the author intended.

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