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Google Docs vs. Microsoft Office 365

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As your typical office worker, I deal with software programs all day.   I was tasked to once again compare a couple of products on a non-technical level; Google Docs vs. Microsoft Office 365.  Most people would admit that the software, procedures and practices they are accustomed to using daily is what they feel the most comfortable working with.  As an example, when your IT department wants to upgrade desktops from Office 2003 to 2007 or 2010,  how many complaints do you hear that it is hard to find the toolbar or icon needed to format, calculate, etc?  Staff productivity is pertinent when making major changes to business applications. 

Competition for cloud productivity applications is currently between Microsoft’s newly launched Office 365 and Google Apps for Business.   Most companies are looking at these cloud offerings to reduce the overhead costs for licensing and supporting the applications.  So, when deciding which service or productivity app will best fit for the diverse needs of your organization, how do you decide which best suits your needs and staff productivity? 

Google Apps for Business, includes their Docs, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Gmail, Calendar, and Groups which are used for things like group collaborations, etc.  Microsoft‘s Office 365 is a combination of their desktop editions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, available in a Office Web Apps edition and a Office Professional Plus edition.    Both of the services work with the major internet browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.  They also both offer administrative controls as well as a free trial. 

I took a look at Google Apps first since I have heard so many good things about their continued application development such as SketchUp.   I have to say I am really surprised by the Google website… I got lost in navigation!  I was looking for some good screen shots of the Google Docs application and only found email and calendar screen shots.  It almost felt like I was on a Microsoft website from a couple of years ago before they cleaned up their act. I finally figured out how to sign up and tried out the products.   The spreadsheet and word processing document type seemed easy to work with.   I was also able to download the files into a 97-03 Excel worksheet.  But why not Office 2007?  I have 2007 installed on my laptop.  

The best resource on pricing and details for business use was located here:  http://www.google.com/apps/intl/en/business/features.html

It is easy to test out the products once if you can stay focused on the task of signing up!  If you have a Google account already like I do then login to your account and then go to the dropdown on the toolbar and select Documents.  This will allow you to play and see if this tool is right for your company. 

Microsoft Office 365 which is a combination of their desktop editions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote, along with Exchange for email access, is offered  in the cloud or Internet environment.   I have to tell you, the Microsoft 365 website was easier for me to navigate…  http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/online-software.aspx#fbid=6T01-QRGGUs

The presentations on how it works were better than the Google site and how it really looks was easy to find.  I mean it looks just like your standard Microsoft Office to me.  Since I am used to Office I may be a little bit swayed in my opinion.  Another feature is that since I have Office on my desktop already, I created a Word document on the Internet, clicked a button on the Word screen, and opened the document I created on the Internet into my Office on my laptop! Very cool! 

Signing up was easy – I went with the trial offer but I think our company already has the licenses since we are a Microsoft Partner… I do like this program.   I like Google too, but since I am so used to Office and the integration to my Dynamics GP accounting software it would be hard to move to another platform. 

For most offices, it appears to me that the Office Web Apps is all that you would need.  What I think is great about this is that you can also opt for the Exchange Online which is called the Outlook Web App.   There are also some other offerings line SharePoint Online and Lync Online which is a collaboration and communication tool.  Probably a good tool if you have locations spread across the country or even the world.   

Businesses that are opting to migrate towards “The Cloud” have a good amount of potential for cost savings.  So, when deciding on which service or productivity app would be best, look at not only the features of the product, the pricing (not really a big price difference between products), and your staff.  What will get you the most return on your investment?  Moving to cloud is supposed to reduce IT headaches, not add to them due to end user frustrations.  Take a look at this article too “Are You an IT Expert?  What Business Are You Really In?

So if you are a company interested in either option, our Microsoft Certified Technicians can help you make this move to the Cloud with Google Apps or with Microsoft Office 365.  We also offer the best managed services and hardware as a service program that I have ever seen! 

By Brittany Meeks and Nancy Phillippi

For more information on the Technology offerings at CIS or other ways to help it help you, call Nancy or Brittany at (817) 640-0016 or email at nphillippi@customis.com.

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