The humble word processor has always been a staple of the computing world. If you want something written up and want something with far more capabilities than Notepad, you usually have your favourite word processor ready and waiting to go. These days there are two word processing giants vying for attention – Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Which one comes out on top? Let’s break down this debate into several key areas.
An easy one, right? Google Docs costs nothing to use; all you need is a Google account, and you’re ready to go. Office, on the other hand, comes as either a 2016 software suite or a monthly subscription to Office 365. For cost purposes, Google Docs clearly won this round.
Before you totally rule out Office, however, do note there is an official, free version of Office called Office Online. It’s not as powerful as the main Office suite, and it keeps prodding you to get Office 365 instead, but it’s still free. Google Docs still wins this one on the basis that the full product is free, while only Office’s lighter online version is.
The Cloud vs. Privacy
Cloud functionality is a double-edged sword. Some users love the cloud, while others find it a privacy concern. As a result, we’ll judge these suites based on their ability to use the cloud for storage, as well as the option to not use the cloud at all.
Can you store and edit documents in the cloud with each suite?
In both instances, yes. Google Docs is a cloud-based service that keeps your documents updated no matter where you open or write them. They’re all stored on your Google Drive, which comes free with your Google account. Office 365 has editing and storage cloud capabilities with OneDrive, Microsoft’s own storage-based service. This is also free.
Can you store and edit documents from of the cloud with each suite?
Here’s where the differences come in. Google Docs can download documents to the hard drive for further editing, but this does require another word processor to open (like Word, for instance!). If you want to do your writing within Google Docs but without using the cloud, your best option is to enable offline mode in Google Docs, go offline, and edit the document that way, which seems like too much hassle to be practical.
Compare this to Office’s cloudless capabilities, where you simply install the software to your computer’s hard drive and boot it up when you want to write something that’s off of the cloud. This makes Office particularly good for handling sensitive documents which you’d rather not have floating around in a cloud somewhere.
This leads nicely into how well each one plays when you don’t have the Internet. Google Docs does have offline capabilities, but you need to set the option before you go offline, and you can only open documents you opened recently while online. Office’s desktop software, however, naturally doesn’t require an online connection. This means you can pull out the laptop at any time during your travels and get work done, without worrying about pre-preparing the documents for offline use.
Without a doubt, Office wins on templates. Google Docs has a decent selection of them, but Office wins purely on the basis that you can make your own using the base product. Google Docs, on the other hand, requires GSuite in order to unlock the ability to make and save templates.
Google Docs used to be the king of online collaboration: it allowed people to edit documents simultaneously, and brought it to the public by storm. Since then, Windows has upped its game and allowed the same feature with Office 365. In this regard, neither of them beat the other in terms of collaboration functionality; they both have it.
There is one point that tips things towards Google Docs, though. Google Docs makes it more user-inclusive. Because each collaborator only requires a web browser to open Google Docs, you can get people of all operating systems and budgets in on your document. Meanwhile, collaborating with Office requires each writer to have their own copy of Office, which is much less practical.
Google Docs has limited functionality when compared to Office. Users who just use word processors to get their thoughts down and get some basic work done will find Google Docs to be more than enough. Users who want more out of their office suite, however, will find Google Doc’s offerings lacking.
When it comes down to who wins this fight, it can only be answered with an annoying “it depends.” Google Docs and Office are competitors through and through, but they both suit different niches which makes each one better for certain people. There is no “total knock-out” winner between the two suites; it all comes down to what you want from your word processor. But who gets the most out of each?
Google Docs Wins If You:
- Want a free processor that isn’t a “watered-down” version of a paid product
- Want to collaborate with others, regardless of their operating system or willingness to pay for a word processor
- Enjoy using the cloud for instant and hassle-free editing on multiple devices
Microsoft Office Wins If You:
- Want a processor that can handle any workload, with customizable templates, superior functionality, and a huge array of options to toggle and utilize
- Want to store sensitive work off of the cloud, so you can ensure it won’t be leaked due to a security breach which was out of your hands
- Want something that works when you’re away from the Internet, such as during travels
Google Docs and Microsoft Word both have their advantages and disadvantages while also filling different niches. Now you know which one is best suited for you and your usage style.
Which one do you prefer? Sound off below!