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Monday, July 20, 2009

Microsoft Office vs Google docs - The Results

About a week ago I pledged to use Google Docs exclusively to see what the buzz was all about. I ditched all my Microsoft Office products and jumped into the world of Google. Here are my findings. Have you tried Google Docs?

Outlook VS Gmail
The GRI offices are on a Microsoft Exchange environment. I was able to quickly set up Gmail to send and receive emails based on my Exchange settings. However, since Exchange was doing the heavy lifting, I missed out on Gmail’s useful message "conversation" grouping. Also, I could not get my Outlook calendar to show in Gmail's calendar. For those that do not need to rely on Exchange, Gmail provides an excellent choice for email and calendar. It is quick, and has built-in spam filter and antivirus. Google will also completely host your email through its apps program for free. What that means is that you can have an email address such as yourName@yourCompany.com hosted by Google. If you must rely on Exchange I would stick with Outlook. For those that do not, Gmail is an excellent contender which costs you nothing.

Google Docs
Availability and collaboration are the two real advantages for all of the Google Docs programs. Files are available anywhere in the world as long as you have an internet connection. Collaboration on any file is a real plus as well. All you have to do is "share" a file and Google sends an email to the person with a link to the file. You can allow a person to have full access to make changes or only the ability to view. Google also keeps track of the versions so you can easily go back to a previous edit. All programs let you save files in Microsoft versions and easily email them as attachments.

Word VS Google Docs (Document)
I, once again, wrote this blog entry using Google Docs (Document.) Google Docs offers the average Word user the same features. You can easily format (bold, underline, highlight.) You can add tables, images and special characters. Google Docs also offers a great spell checker. You can import Word files as well as export to Word format. You can also directly email an attachment and convert it to Word at the same time.

Power users will miss the ability to add page numbers and forget about mail merging from excel or a database.

Excel VS Google Docs (Spreadsheet)
I am not a power user of Excel. Having said that, I was not able to find anything lacking in Google Docs that I use in Excel. Through the use of Gadgets, you can even use pivot tables. You can also reference other sheets in the same spreadsheet. However, I was not able to reference other separate spreadsheets -- a feature I rarely use.

For everyday columnar data keeping and calculation, Google Docs works superbly. You can import Excel files as well as export to Excel format.

PowerPoint VS Google Docs (Presentation)
For simple presentations, Google Presentation does the job. You can set a slide's layout, and preset color scheme. You can also insert images and a few shapes. You can insert YouTube videos, but cannot embed any other types of videos. Also, you have to be online during the presentation for the YouTube video to play.

You can tell specific sections to start showing up as you click but you cannot add effects like fly ins or fade ins.

It looks like Presentation is the one tool that still needs some work to get up to par with Word.

What about Access?
Google Docs does not have a desktop database program like Access. Microsoft is the clear winner here.

In conclusion, I do not think I am ready just yet to completely ditch Microsoft Office. However, I was able to stay productive and achieve all my tasks using purely Google Docs. Google Docs even proved to be better in some areas. Collaboration between my coworkers using Google Docs is a feature that I will miss. Also, the accessibility of the files from anywhere is a definite plus. Have you tried Google Docs?

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