Microsoft Office vs Google Docs: The Fat Lady hasn't sung yet

Office on iOS is great, but this isn't over yet.

I was reading ComputerWorld's Preston Gralla's article on Microsoft Office whipping Google Docs. I just don't see it. While I agree that you can't compare the feature set of power tools that MS Office gives you compared to the utilitarian features from Google, I don't know if I would say the game is over quite yet.

Google VS Microsoft

Let me say from the outset that I actually prefer MS Office to Google Docs, hands down. For my part, I really do wish it was over. I don't like editing in Google Docs and for anything other than simple Word or very simple spreadsheets, it's just a web-based notepad. 

So why does Google still have a chance? Simple. Most users are not power users. Like many software products, 80% of the users only use 20% of the features. The rest are nice to have for the once a year time you may use them. What Google does really well is make it easy to share documents for multiple people to use.

I have lived this first-hand. I am involved in multiple businesses, between The CISO Group,, and several other ventures. I frequently have to share docs with groups of people to edit and review. I should note that these are almost always Word-type documents and the occasional spreadsheet.

No one I work with has ever tried to share a doc with me on SkyDrive, or what is now called OneDrive. If it is a Microsoft doc, they use email back and forth. On the other hand, they all share Google Docs with me. I click the link and it opens in my browser. It's that simple.

When I try to share docs with others using SkyDrive and OneDrive, I find it cumbersome and clumsy. It takes far longer than it should. Granted, it gives me more options than Google does. It probably has better security and more control even. But it comes at a price.

Oh yeah, the price. It is hard to beat free. While most people have MS Office on their machines, they do so at a cost. Yes, you can use the free Microsoft web plugins, but do you know anyone who actually does? Frankly, at ten bucks a month for up to five computers, I don't know why everyone doesn't have MS Office, but there are people who don't. For them, Google is a better experience.

So sharing docs versus Microsoft's fancy "collaboration" is one reason Google may be down, but not out of the Office suite game. The other reason is, who needs all of the bells and whistles of MS Office?

People want to be able to create a simple document. They may occasionally even add a graphic. Does it do spell checking? That is great. Can I print? Can I share it online? That's all they need. All of the other features that fill up ribbon menus into the sunset are nice to have, but who uses most of it? Google gives 80% of us everything we need.

I would love it if it had better track change features for when I work in groups, but it doesn't seem to stop people. I love Excel's formulas, charting and other features, but for a simple spreadsheet, the Google version is fine.

So the question is, for people who don't use the power tools, are the power tools a reason to choose Microsoft over Google? I say they aren't. Especially at a price point of free.

I do applaud Microsoft for coming out with Office for the iOS family of devices. I also have no doubt that Microsoft will have an Android version of Office out soon as well. It already works great on my Windows devices. 

With these moves, Microsoft has made significant progress in blunting Google's momentum in Office suites and have all but buried Apple's as well. It is good to see Microsoft roaring again.

Is the game over in Office Suites on mobile and other devices yet? No, I don't think so. As Yogi would say, it ain't over till it's over.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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