The cloud struggles to keep up.
Microsoft has long been the king of productivity suites and its latest extension of Microsoft Office into the cloud makes its desktop software even more useful and powerful.
At five years of age, Google Apps and its word processor Google Docs is in its infancy compared to Microsoft’s 21-year-old veteran word processor. And it shows, especially when you look at Microsoft’s desktop plus cloud suite versus Google’s cloud-only suite side by side.
The ballooning feature set comes at an extra US$200-US$500 per user for the business versions of Microsoft Office but many businesses will find it a price worth paying, at least for some staff.
It should be noted that Google has added several features to Google Docs and Google Apps that integrate with current and older versions of the desktop Microsoft Office suite very effectively.
However, for businesses looking to start with the Google Docs word processor and forgo Microsoft Word completely, here is a summary of the 10 main points they will miss out on in a cloud-only world.
10. Notebook view. A lesser known feature in Word, this is a great tool for taking notes in meetings because you can include audio notes using your laptop’s built-in microphone.
9. Save to online. Documents in Microsoft Office 2007 and later save directly to a SharePoint Online site or SkyDrive. No need to keep uploading and downloading files. (Google’s Cloud Connect plug-in lets you use the desktop version of Word and automatically save it to Google Docs. Thanks to Thaaron for the tip-off.)
8. Security. Microsoft Word can protect track changes, comments and forms using a password.
7. Desktop publishing. Microsoft Word can create professional looking sales documents and newsletters with a dazzling array of tools, styles, themes and templates using Publishing Layout view. Google Docs and the web version of Office are little more than text editors by comparison.
6. Document layout. Microsoft Word can insert bibliographies, citations, footnotes, endnotes, and tables of contents, figures and authorities. It even cross-references. Web versions can do footnotes, but that’s about it.
5. Graphics, charts and art. Microsoft Word comes with a very impressive library of charts, “SmartArt” graphics such as organisational pyramids, workflows and hierarchies, and WordArt. If your role is to design professional looking workflows or graph-heavy reports, Word is very useful.
4. Macros. Some businesses would fall apart if they had to say goodbye to their collection of macros. Unfortunately you can’t take them with you to Google Docs.
3. Fonts. A major point of comparison. Google Docs has 19, Microsoft Word has over 200.
2. Mail merge. Two of the most important words to secretarial staff the world over. Microsoft Word has settings for labels, envelopes and letters for professional physical correspondence. While the world lives on email, we still send a lot of mail.
1. Compatibility. While Google Docs can open the latest .docx Microsoft format, it won’t always preserve the formatting. If a customer sends you an important document with incompatible formatting, you might not realise that crucial information hasn’t been displayed.
If you want to avoid the expense of buying desktop software and go cloud-only, then check out this article that looks at the top 10 most important features Google’s word processor Google Docs has over Microsoft Office 365’s Microsoft Word Web App.