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Google Docs isn’t worth the gamble

When you open a Microsoft Office application, you know what you’re going to get. Whether you’re working from a PC, a browser or a smartphone, the way the software functions is familiar and consistent. You don’t have to fret as to whether you’re seeing the Office document as it was intended. Productivity software is built to help people communicate. It’s more than just the words in a document or presentation; it’s about the tone, style and format you use to convey an overall message. People often entrust important information in these documents — from board presentations to financial analyses to book reports. You should be able to trust that what you intend to communicate is what is being seen.

Converting Office files into Google Apps is a gamble. See what happens below when our friend is given the opportunity to take the gamble.

On the web:

Why take the gamble on converting your Office files to Google Docs when you can use Microsoft Office and the Microsoft Office Web Apps to create, share and edit your Office files with your content intact? Converting Office files into Google Apps is a gamble. Don’t take our word for it; see for yourself. Below is a document created in Microsoft Office 2013 that we opened in both Google Docs and the Office Word Web Apps so you can see the difference:

 

As you can see, you can lose quite a bit when opening Microsoft Office files in Google Docs including text boxes, columns, graphics, image placement, watermarks, charts, text, spacing and more. The experience with both Excel and PowerPoint files is similar. Check out live side-by-side demos showing some examples here:

PowerPoint Web Apps vs. Google Presentations

Excel Web App vs. Google Spreadsheets

Word Web App vs. Google Documents

On a tablet:

Consistency and trust are really important when you choose a set of tools to help you communicate. Given the importance of mobile devices in our lives, that consistency and trust now extend to our phones and tablets. That is why we recently announced that we are bringing more of the Office experience to the Office Web Apps including the ability to edit and create Office files using the Office Web Apps on Android tablets-in addition to mobile devices in the Windows ecosystem and the iPad. Soon you will have the same consistency and familiarity of Office Web Apps on your tablet of choice. Google, on the other hand, only supports Android and iOS mobile devices. It provides you with two different experiences depending on whether you want to edit Google’s proprietary format, Google Docs or Microsoft Office files, Quickoffice. Each has separate compatibility issues. Our goal with the Office Web Apps is to provide people a reliable familiar experience to create Office documents from start to finish, all from the web and to deliver the tools that customers need to be productive anytime and anywhere.

Below is a screenshot of a document created in Microsoft Word 2013 and opened with QuickOffice on an iPad next to the same document opened with the Word Web App on the iPad.

 

Google Quickoffice does not convert Office files well due to its extremely limited feature set. As you can see, Quickoffice has different yet equally significant formatting and data loss issues compared to that of Google Docs.

With a viewer:

The last gamble with Google is how the company helps you view Microsoft Office documents using their file viewers. Even this is a gamble that may be too risky to take. Google has two Office file viewers: one is embedded into Google Drive, and the second is a new beta application that is part of the Google Chrome browser.

 

As you can see, even these simple viewers fail to provide you with an adequate picture of the content in the Office file even to the extent of merging two separate pages of the document in the Google Drive Office preview application.

Why gamble with your time and Office content? When you build and share compelling, accurate, and impactful information, make sure you get what you bargained for.

Keep an eye out for more to come on whether Google has the features and skills to play the productivity game…

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25 comments
  1. Can you share the office file so I can see for myself as the screenshots are a bit small. Thanks!!

    • @reynout, you can download the files from the links live links in the post. We have three example documents including the Word document in the screenshots.

  2. Although this may be true, there are a few important discrepancies. First, Google Docs is free for the casual consumer. Second, this would not happened if you simply started creating documents from now on in Google Docs. Third, the ease of use is far more intuitive using Google Docs. Fair arguments am I right?

    • Office web apps are free, just go to sydrive.com. I feel office as intuitive as Google as Office is. Intuitiveness is a question of taste and subjective.

    • Hey Cory, thanks for your comment. As David points out the Office Web Apps are also free. the actual URL is http://www.skydrive.com. Simply always creating documents in Google Docs in my mind is not a great alternative. There are many instances when you may want to not keep files in Google Drive. In order to do this you are at the mercy of Google’s secret document format. Google has chosen not to use one of the ISO standards based file formats (OOXML or ODF). that means if you every want to archive or share outside of Google docs you are at the mercy of Google’s converter and the file conversion issues I mention may happen.

      • Isn’t it because Microsoft Office doesn’t or not properly use the open file formats that Google Docs is failing to import Microsoft Office files?

  3. This was an unnecessary blog post. While it won’t really mean much, this was the one that caused me to unsubscribe from your RSS feed.

  4. I have not idea why Microsoft is trying to accomplish by publishing this kind of article. It’s already your territory. I think they want to get embarrassed again like froodles initiative. This article is nothing but waste of resource and time.

  5. And yes, as always funny "Rob Schneider"

  6. Love that you’re bashing Google but using the YouTube player in your post. How bad can they be?

    • I think it’s hilarious actually. Not only are they ripping on Google… they’re using Google’s hosting servers, network bandwidth, and storage to do it. Since there’s no advertising ‘bumper’ before the video starts, the only thing paying for the stream is… well… you with your personal information, if you haven’t blocked Google’s cookie or are logged into Google’s services. When Google is paying for all the resources to compete against them, why would Microsoft host the video stream?

  7. google and you better admit right and ready

  8. Stop attacking google, I ll still be using google docs. Stop selling your ugly windows 8 bathroom tiles. Gmail is the best.

  9. FINALLY. The fish is in a small tank and everybody is watching it close. Great demo. Way to go Office and Microsoft!!

  10. Honestly not a very reliable environment. I have lost a multitude of file changes. Can not install a second install (I have five) because I keep getting a message like my connection is slow. Not the case. The Office 365 Word constantly freezes, or does not load. This webware is the worst software/webware in recent memory as far as I am concerned. Money wasted unless there is a quick fix I am missing…..

    • Hey Kevin, I use O365 everyday for work and do not run into the troubles you seem to have. I would be happy to look into the problem and help get it fixed if something is wrong.

  11. Great.
    But why are you using Google’s Youtube?

  12. Hmmm.

    1. You used Google’s Youtube to post your videos.
    2. Rob Schneider and Pete Rose…probably the worst choices made to make an ad. Schneider is better off being a stapler and Rose is simply a disgrace to the sports world. I guess Justin Beiber and Taylor Swift weren’t within the price range?
    3. You knock on Google’s private file format and complain about them not adhering to the standards, and how we’re at the mercy of their conversion process, yet, you fail to mention, anywhere, how Microsoft doctored the ISO committee and stacked the deck in favor of MSOOXML simply because MSOOXML couldn’t win ISO certification by itself.

    The point being: Google Apps works great for the casual user. I love how it works, and although there are a few quirks, they aren’t enough for me to leave it and switch to something else. It’s a pure web app – not really meant to be used offline, but we live in a connected world anyway: phone, laptop, library, in the office. I collaborate with my co-workers on some documents, and my wife on budgets in real time. I spew PDF’s when I need a portable document and nobody seems to have an issue rendering them.

    Your blog, for all intents and purposes, is somewhat invalid in this day and age: a sign that MS is falling behind in thinking outside the box. The MS ecosystem nowadays seems to be: copy, paste. Online office app. An attempt at a unified tablet/desktop OS that did away with one of the more important features, and task manager is dreadful, btw. Kin. Zune.

    Even Vista was a tad better than all this floundering MS has been doing lately. I should know – I still use it when I want to…ummm…actually, I don’t use it as much anymore.

  13. Why would you pick Rob Schneider to be on your video?

  14. The comments are interesting and it looks like most of them are from people who do not or prefer not to use Microsoft software anyway. I don’t think this post is for them, but more for business users and organizations that have heard about Google Docs. If you are a small business or an individual and interact with other "bigger" companies as a part of your daily business, it is a no brainer to just go with Office 365 and/or Office web apps. Why risk incompatibility and/or accept less functionality?

  15. As usual, Microsoft isn’t giving you the full story here; they show you "viewing" a file in Web Apps, but once you try and edit that file in Web Apps, all fidelity is lost, just like their Google/Quick Office examples. Tell the whole truth here MS, stop misleading your prospects.
    The file conversion "issue" is not a Google issue, it is not a Microsoft issue, it is a Web issue. Converting files that rely on locally installed files do not always seamlessly convert to the web…yet. Google is working on addressing this with a more open standard. Even with the 2013 products Microsoft just released, they haven’t been able to fix the issue.

  16. As usual, Microsoft isn’t giving you the full story here; they show you "viewing" a file in Web Apps, but once you try and edit that file in Web Apps, all fidelity is lost, just like their Google/Quick Office examples. Tell the whole truth here MS, stop misleading your prospects.
    The file conversion "issue" is not a Google issue, it is not a Microsoft issue, it is a Web issue. Converting files that rely on locally installed files do not always seamlessly convert to the web…yet. Google is working on addressing this with a more open standard. Even with the 2013 products Microsoft just released, they haven’t been able to fix the issue.

    • Hey Derek, You are correct there is a difference when viewing in the Office Web Apps and when editing. You are also right that it has to do with limitations in the browser based applications. There is a crucial difference. In the Office Web Apps we do not convert the file. If there is content in a document that the web app cannot handle we do not transform or remove the data. You can edit the document in the web version of Office and then reopen in the Office desktop client and the data will be present. I would also reiterate that we support both open document standards, OOXML and ODF, whereas Google stores their documents in an undocumented format. If you want to edit a document formatted in one of those open standards you are at the mercy of Google’s converters to edit or export to an open format.

  17. Microsoft shows compatibility of its formats, awesome!

    Seriously, Microsoft Office Online is a good thing. I don’t have to keep (and buy) Microsoft Windows in virtual machine to run the Office anymore. So, Microsoft helps to bury its Windows, that’s good.

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