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Windows Live Office vs. Google Docs

February 11, 2011
Google Docs Options

Google Docs Options

When Google Docs first came onto the forefront, I though the holy grail of cloud computing had arrived.  Finally without the need for expensive software, or even the latest and greatest powerful CPU being offered by yet another hardware vendor claiming temporary superiority, I (and many of my clients) would be able to perform the most basic of tasks that people have computers for in the first place.  Within all of the data compiled by user groups, software market research firms, and online user forums, there is a basic thread of “required” applications.  These are most commonly referred to as Word Processing, Spreadsheet functionality, Presentation capabilities, and of course, some form of organizing information for those things that are simply beyond the scope of a word processing or spreadsheet document, but not quite requiring any form of database quite yet.

Google Docs offered the ability to not only perform all of these “cloud based” functions, but added in the ability to share and collaborate, which any users knows, is the deciding factor between working on a project alone, or working with a team.  Everything was going along well for Google Docs.

And then Windows Live Showed up…
Windows Live Office selections

Windows Live Office Selections

Practically overnight, Google Docs was rendered practically obsolete by the sleek interface, the inclusion of recognized Word commands, and the ability to use your Windows Live Skydrive almost interchangeably with your local hard drive.  Getting information into Skydrive is as easy as it was on Google Docs, but finding it later, was a lot more intuitive, using the familiar windows folder system…assuming you were already familiar with Word to begin with.  FOr those not saddled with those preconceived notions of how data should be organized, and are familiar with Gmail, the transition is less difficult.  But it is the applications themselves that are worth comparing.

Word Processing

Google Doc Word Processing

The Google Docs Word Processor

Both Google Docs Word Processing and Windows Live word are very stripped down versions of a word processor, but side-by-side, the comparison is almost unfair.  Google Docs looks like a plain text editor along side the new-for-2010 Word interface displayed on Windows Live.

There is no comparison.

The Windows Live Word version is so far superior that given the choice between the two, I find Google Docs to be cumbersome and unattractive.  Never underestimate the importance of user interface.  If it was really more important to work well than to look good, most of the leaders in the technology industry would be out of business, and the small companies they swallowed whole on the way, would own them.  Looks matter.  Nobody wants to take the ugly girl to the prom.

WIndows Live Word

Word on Windows Live

I could spend several more pages berating Excel and PowerPoint knockoffs the same way, but in all honesty, I would simply be repeating what I have already said.  There is no comparison.  The only point I will give to Google Docs is the amazing speed at which it is loaded and ready.  Each action on Windows Live took about three seconds, so it was a full five seconds to start a document with four of it spent waiting, but once it opened…it was like working in Word.  Google Docs was ready in an instant…but it was like working in WordPad.  Not the most recent version of WordPad, mind you…the one you remember from Windows 3.1 – and yes – I am that old.

The noticeable difference came in the other applications.

Forms

The idea here is brilliant, you make Google Forms, people can fill them in, and you can receive them.  Google can host your website, and one of the more difficult features for new website creators, is getting information from the user back to you, so you can see it.  Many do-it-yourself templates include simple forms that ask for names, addresses and emails, but this goes FAR beyond.  this can collect information the way you want it collected, and distribute it to where you want it sent.  The downside:  It is not intuitive and may take a few tries.  Your very first efforts will NOT take security into question, and everybody and their granny will be sending you erroneous data.  But you CAN figure it out.  it does not take a Ph.D. in Computer Science…even though it may look like it at first.  This form, however, is a web development tool, and I have no idea why it is included in Google Docs, but for those with Google Apps, this feature can do a lot.

Drawing

Paint….with collaboration.  Keep an eye out on my blog.  There are so many better ways to do this, I won’t even waste your time here.

OneNote

Two words:  Awe Inspiring.  One Note here works almost identically to One Note on your computer or Tablet.  What’s more, the integration between your Windows Live One Note and your One Note Application is so seamless, you will sometimes find yourself confused as to whether the document you are working on is local…or on the cloud.  If you are smart, you will keep EVERYTHING on the cloud for this one, and have access to it anywhere.  Rumor has it the new Windows Phone will allow mobile access to these functions, and I will be waiting with bells on.

Final Analysis:

Windows Live Office beats Google Docs hands-down in the personal application department for the cloud.  It’s not even a contest, but for the business users with multiple seats, Google Apps can do things Windows Live hasn’t even thought of yet.  If you are using it for your own personal use, or are working with a company with say three or four people, you will prefer the Windows Live Office setup.  If you are working with a larger group, and are already planning to use desktop software (Microsoft Office with Outlook), you may find Google Apps superior for managing your company, but will be doing your editing in your desktop software.

Personal Use: Windows Live

Corporate Use: Google Docs

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One Comment leave one →
  1. stejaymiller permalink
    March 6, 2011 3:53 pm

    I’ve been using Microsoft Office for years now for my university work and tried to get Google docs up and running to keep all of my work and lecture notes organised but the google docs way of converting documents into gdocs format plus the way that the app itselfcould not handle a lot of the graphics in my Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents meant that it failed miserably.
    This past week, bored of Google and their stripped down everything which focuses far too much on letting everybody else see what you’re doing for my liking I set up a new user account on my desktop just for Windows intergrated application and I must say that the Windows Live features have been a revalation that I wishe existed three years ago when I started university.
    The text editor functionality of Google docs is completely accurate and completely insufficient for people that have spent any amount of time in a real word processor, Office Live, although stripped down has more than enough functionality for quick edits (you’d be doing any proper edits at home presumably) The presentation and spreadsheet aspects are just as good as viewers and quick editors and suceed where Google docs fails in formatting presentations or even bothering to try most of my Excel formula.
    A huge plus of the Windows Live setup is the live Mesh program in the live pack, it’s exactly like dropbox in that you sync a folder across numerous devices but with 5GB free storage compared to the 2GB you get with other services.
    I’ve had Skydrive up and running since it first started and use it to save documents rather than carry around a USB stick but the new intergration with Office has been an immense development for me. The whole 25GB free storage and the way with Live photo gallery you can upload to Skydrive to the specific photos section at the click of a button, all without Microsoft asking ‘do you want to make your photos visible to the whole world?’ like with Google.
    All in all Windows live all round andnot just the Office Live feature has no competition, and yes I know Live photo gallery got that easy upload teature from Picasa.
    One more thing, with the Skydrive functionality all of your folders be it photos, documents, browser favourites, mesh or miscalaneous uploads are visible from your home screen as oppose to Googles way of having different sites for each which is very convenient

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