Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: 4 reasons why Google is the clear winner

By Veronica Raulin | Head of Change Management

A Harvard Ph.D. candidate and teaching assistant recently ignited a tweetstorm after noting that his Gen Z students “[do] not use Microsoft Word, period. When you ask them to submit .doc files they’re all converting them from Google Docs or Pages.” Thousands of replies poured in, not just from Gen Z’ers but also from students, writers, and other professionals of all ages pledging their devotion to House Google.

Casual Twitter users may have been baffled that a word processing solution has such a passionate fanbase, but here at SADA, this is just another day at the office. When SADA helped Colgate-Palmolive Company migrate 28,000 employees to Google Workspace, Mitch Cohen, Senior Manager of Collaboration Services, was hoping for an easy-to-use office productivity solution that “people would be excited about using.”

To say those expectations were met would be an understatement. Colgate-Palmolive’s employees didn’t just get excited; they were over the moon. “When we announced the switch to Google to our entire employee base, I was quite taken aback by the responses I got from some of those employees,” recalled Mike Crowe, CIO of Colgate-Palmolive. “Messages like, ‘You’re my new best friend at Colgate.’ I even had one person tell me that it brought tears to their eyes.”

Why do Google Docs fans love their word processor so much?

1. Collaboration, collaboration, collaboration

Technically, Microsoft Word, like the rest of Microsoft 365, has collaboration features. It’s called “co-authoring.” However, using the co-authoring feature is rather like pulling teeth. In Word, the ability for multiple users to edit and collaborate in real-time depends on a number of factors, including which device each user is working on, whether all users are part of the same organization, and even where the document being worked on is stored.

There are two ways to collaborate in Docs, both of them super simple:

  1. Enter the other users’ email addresses under “Share with people and groups,” and Google will send them invitations to access the document.
  2. Choose “Get link” to receive a link, which can be sent to other users manually.

When two or more users are editing concurrently, changes and comments appear instantly and in real-time. It doesn’t matter where the file is stored or which device or browser each user is working from. A single user can even have the same document open on multiple devices simultaneously.

Need to view edit history or revert back to a previous version of a document? In Microsoft, your options depend on which version of Word you’re using, how your organization’s administrator has configured versioning, and whether you’re using Sharepoint.1 In Docs, versioning is automatic and works the same way on every device: Just go to File > Version history, where you can see all edits and restore previous document versions with a single click.

Have an upcoming meeting and want to see if someone has looked at a shared file? Check out the activity dashboard in Google Docs to see who has viewed it, the number of open comments, and sharing history. It’s like version control for interactions with the file – views, comments, and sharing!

2. Cloud-based, with full cloud functionality

Microsoft Word is part of Microsoft 365, which evolved from Microsoft Office, which was originally designed as a desktop app. Even today, Word users install Microsoft 365 apps on their local devices. While Microsoft also makes Word available through a web browser, it’s a pared-down version lacking certain functionalities — including advanced collaboration features!2

Google Docs, like the rest of Google Workspace, is fully cloud-native and browser-centric. Docs is accessible from any device, using any modern web browser. In fact, while Microsoft users can install Word and other 365 apps on only five devices,3 Google allows users to access Docs and the rest of Google Workspace on an unlimited number of devices. Other than offline storage, which is only supported on Google Chrome, Docs offers the same functionality regardless of browser.

A cloud-based word processor makes life easier for organizational IT admins, too. Updates to Google Docs, like the rest of Google Workspace, are automatically handled by Google. Admins and users don’t have to do a thing to ensure that they’re always running the most up-to-date version.

3. Automatic auto-save & simpler file organization

Twitter user lavingiasa writes of a student who “accidentally deleted all their work [in Word] … because they didn’t save the file because they didn’t understand the concept of saving (used to Google Apps auto-save) so they just said ‘no’ when the prompt came up.”

Microsoft offers an autosave feature, but it’s not turned on by default, and if a user is saving a file to their local device, it isn’t available at all. Word users must first log into their OneDrive or Sharepoint account, then turn autosave on.

In Google Docs, autosave is automatic, and all files are automatically stored in Google Drive. So that users can always access their files, regardless of which device they’re logging in from. They don’t have to worry about carrying around flash drives or emailing files to themselves. Further, IT administrators can easily set up team (shared) drives and folders according to department, job function, project team, or any other category.

4. Docs plays nicely with Word

Need to collaborate on Word files with co-workers, clients, or partners who still use MIcrosoft? No problem! Thanks to the Office editing feature, Docs users can easily upload Word documents to Google Drive, then edit and collaborate on them right from Docs, without having to convert the Word files. This functionality works on Excel and Powerpoint documents, too. Google users can even open and edit Office files directly from Gmail, without having to upload the document to Drive.

Conversely, Google users can create a document in Docs, then go to File > Download and convert it into a number of other formats, including Word (.docx), PDF, or plain text.

Go further With SADA

If you’re looking to simplify organizational change and maximize ROI, we offer results-driven change management services to help you harness the full power of Google Workspace. Our experts have helped leading organizations like Colgate-Palmolive embrace change for maximum impact. In addition, we offer a variety of helpful resources to guide you in your cloud transformation journey including #CloudQuarters, a go-to hub to empower our collective community to boldly embrace the cultural shift to remote and hybrid work. Be sure to check out our new video series, 27°, which offers an opinion, or a unique angle, on a particular topic in the realm of Google Workspace.

1 https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/topic/view-previous-versions-of-office-files-5c1e076f-a9c9-41b8-8ace-f77b9642e2c2
2 https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/servicedescriptions/office-online-service-description/office-online-service-description
3 https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/compare-all-microsoft-365-products?activetab=tab:primaryr2

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