Office is a team player

It’s amazing to think how far Microsoft Office has come since we first launched Microsoft Word 1.0 in 1983. Word has moved well beyond replacing simple typing functions to a rich set of tools that produce an array of highly formatted documents. Excel has grown from simple ledger functions to become an interactive and mission critical analysis and reporting application. And PowerPoint now provides a rich set of tools to make highly visual, customized, professional-looking presentations. 

While you may not use all of the features of Office every day, it’s likely that someone you work with does. And even if you didn’t create it yourself, much of the content you use was probably developed by someone who does rely on the breadth of those features. Having a broad set of features that support the entire spectrum of productivity use cases, from the most basic to the most advanced, helps connect teams with a common communication platform. And those who embrace all that Office has to offer have a powerful set of tools that can set the work they do and the content they produce apart. 

Now let’s see what happens to team productivity when you choose a productivity suite that has deficiencies:

“Guys … I’ve got deficiencies”

Google Docs has deficiencies when compared to Microsoft Office. Google publicly admits Google Docs is deficient, stating: “We know the gaps between our features and theirs.” Google also states that it only intends to target 90% of the user base of Office. Google’s gaps are not just advanced features used by a few people. Many basic features are missing from Google Docs like grammar check, support for columns, custom date formats, slide numbers, and mail merge. Add to that the many more advanced capabilities missing from Google Docs like Power Pivot, SmartArt, watermarks, master slides, image editing, slicers, and information rights management — and you watch your productivity start to decline.    

“We quickly realized Google would not meet our needs, so asking our employees to put up with less functionality was not an option for us.” Read more

— Sean Maisey, Director of Operations, Colonial Williamsburg

Working harder

As we continue to improve Office, we look for changes big and small that help people do more with less effort. Some improvements are small, like the new paste options we introduced in Office 2010. Other features reduce the amount of time it takes to accomplish a task like Flash Fill and Quick Analysis in Excel. The breadth of capabilities Office can lead to significant gains in what people can accomplish. With Google Docs, on the other hand, people have to find ways to overcome feature gaps by working harder, spending their time finding workarounds, or potentially using third-party tools to overcome the gaps.  

“When we switched from Google Apps to Office 365, we freed our people to work together in synergy, and it has produced good results in every area of our business.” Read more

— Andy Springer, Director, Rookie Recruits

Working well with others

Like I said in the introduction, we work to provide the breadth of capabilities from basic usage to advanced features. With the same toolset, teams have a basic trust that they can easily communicate back and forth. Another goal of Office is to provide the tools that help people be more productive anytime, anywhere. You get a consistent and familiar Office experience no matter what device or platform you’re using, be it a PC, a browser, a smartphone, or a tablet. By contrast, to get a full Google Docs experience, Google customers must use the Google Chrome browser. In addition, Google has no plans to support the Windows Phone.  If you use an Android or iOS and want to edit your Google Docs, you use the Google Drive app on your device.  If you want to edit Microsoft Office files, you either must convert these files to the Google file format or use Quickoffice, which also has a only a small subset of features compared to Office, along with some file compatibility issues. 

Another issue that can make it difficult to work with Google is the company’s choices about which document standards to support. Microsoft Office supports both the OOXML and ODF ISO standard file types. By contrast, Google Docs stores these files in something other than these standards, converting these file types in and out of Google Docs. With both standard file formats, when you convert your Office files to use Google Docs, you gamble with data and format loss. 

“We tried to use Google Docs, but it didn’t work reliably and often skewed the formatting.” Read more

— Tamara Walker, Public Relations Consultant for Naturally Me

I’m taking the net with me

Unfortunately, even today you can’t always take the net with you. When you’re in a location without reliable Internet access, there are times when you need a great offline experience.  Microsoft Office was built to live in both the online and offline worlds, with features like document merge, track changes, and conflicting change controls in SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro when working on shared documents. With Google Apps, the offline experience is limited. When you lose Internet access, you can still create and edit documents and presentations, but you can only view spreadsheets. You also lose more features in Docs and Slides like sharing, inserting images, help, printing, non-standard fonts, and more. Google also warns you not to work on shared documents offline or risk data loss:  “Try to use offline editing for documents that you own and that won’t be deleted without your knowledge.”

“Google Docs is not really suitable for business use due to limited functionality and the lack of offline capabilities.” Read more

— Paraic Nolan, Finance Director, Big Red Book

More innovation to come

In the timeframe Google is playing catch up, Office is not standing still.  We will continue to innovate and provide the tools to help people work better together. Just this week, we announced some exciting new capabilities coming to Office Web Apps. These features bring more core Office features to the browser including real-time coauthoring, editing on Android tablets, and much more. By the way, congratulations to Office Web Apps on recently being named one of Time Magazine’s top 50 best websites for 2013