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Google Apps vs Microsoft Office: What Solution is Better?

written by: cjohnson•edited by: Misty Faucheux•updated: 4/16/2010

Google Apps emphasizes quick, easy to use and very portable services to manage your business needs. This is different than traditional desktop applications that handle huge amounts of files directly on your computer. How does Google Apps compare to Microsoft Office?

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    How Google Apps is Different from Office

    Google Apps has gradually positioned itself as a rival to Microsoft Office, the current standard in business software. Google Apps provides immediate advantages to Microsoft’s desktop applications, including universal mobile access, powerful collaboration capabilities and the ease and simplicity of its user interface. Because Google Apps is accessible through the Web, there is no need to load slow software, and the offsite storage means cheaper, more cost-effective services versus the Microsoft Office products.

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    Google Docs vs Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint

    The real strength of Google Apps lies in both its portability and its collaborative functionality. Google Docs and Spreadsheets keep files current by allowing users to edit in real time and discuss it by chatting through GTalk. Files can be accessed through all mobile phones and by any computer with internet access. Documents and spreadsheets are easily converted into multiple formats and are instantly backed up and securely stored on Google servers. Although Google Gears currently enables offline access for documents, it has not yet been developed for offline access of spreadsheets or presentations.

    Although Google Docs and Spreadsheets offer convenience and an easy to use interface, the functionality of their docs and spreadsheets are limited and basic. The programs do not come close to the extensive capabilities of Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

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    Google Calendar and GMail vs Microsoft Outlook

    GMail and Google Calendar have quickly become one of the most popular mail and calendar applications on the Web because of its adaptability and accessibility. Both GMail and Calendar are easily accessible from all mobile devices. Gmail syncs to almost every portable device, provides IMAP and POP access, and can push email to Blackberries. When you reply or write to someone, GMail automatically adds that person as a contact. The integration of Google’s powerful search abilities and the easy addition of labels removes the need to file email like in Outlook.

    Although GMail is a highly effective tool for managing communications, Google Calendar still needs further development. Calendar currently only syncs directly to Blackberry devices. In order to sync Calendar with other mobile devices, you first need to sync it with a desktop client like Outlook or Apple ICal, and then sync that application with your mobile device. No contact sync is available, and task integration is not built into Google Calendar.

    The strength of Microsoft Outlook is that it provides a centralized location for your contacts, task and calendar management, and email. It allows you to write emails and work with your calendar and tasks even if you are offline. However, because Outlook indexes and stores everything on your computer, files can quickly grow to massive sizes that cause programs to freeze and your computer to slow down. Combined with the numerous functionalities and processes built into it, Outlook can quickly become a bloated application that takes over your computer.

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    Which is Better Overall?

    Google is known as an innovative company that quickly makes bold and dramatic improvements with their services. Because of the sheer power and financial resources of their company, it is very likely that Google will continue to push the development of Apps to become a significant alternative to Microsoft Office. But for companies that prefer not to have Google host all of their information and data, and who need offline access and powerful doc and spreadsheet performance, Microsoft Office remains a better option.

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    The menu and functionality in Microsoft Word 2007Simple menu in Google Docs