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Google Docs Vs. Microsoft Word: an Even Matchup? 346

Posted by samzenpus
from the duke-it-out dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Software developer Jeff Cogswell writes: 'About a year ago, I decided to migrate my documents to Google Docs and start using it for all my professional writing. I quickly hit some problems; frankly, Google Docs wasn't as good an option as I'd initially hoped. Now I use LibreOffice on my desktop, and it works well, but I had to go through long odysseys with Google Docs and Zoho Docs to reach this point. Is Microsoft Word actually better than Google Docs and Zoho Docs? For my work, the answer is "yes," but this doesn't make me particularly happy. In the following essay, I present my problems with Google Docs and Zoho Docs (as well as some possible solutions) from my perspective as both a professional writer and a software developer.'"
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Google Docs Vs. Microsoft Word: an Even Matchup?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 27, 2012 @12:15AM (#42401263)

    Well said. And it's easier to tack online storage on to word processing than word processing on to online storage. So who's surprised, really?

  • Depends on the use (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 27, 2012 @12:29AM (#42401337)

    Google docs is great for anything involving collaborators. It's really easy to send out the link to other students I have been grouped with for projects, and explain how it works.

    However, for the final copy, we have one of the team members copy it into word and do the prettying up there.

  • by jkrise (535370) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @12:33AM (#42401351) Journal

    it has features that fit any conceivable needs

    Speak for yourself. I use Google Docs for lots of things, where Word simply does not fit. For ex:

    1. Daily time-sheets of my team members with details of work done, and time spent, with status.

    2. Project progress of my department; which plugs into the that of the entire division.

    etc.

    3. A taxi dispatch system uses Google docs to find out current location, availability, status etc using Google docs. Word is totally unusable in such scenarios.

  • by lilfields (961485) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @12:38AM (#42401373) Homepage
    Microsoft has a free suite, and if you compared paid suites, Microsoft is only marginally more expensive on the cloud, but if you compare client-side to server side and use SkyDrive, then Microsoft is cheaper...because you can get a small business suite with 5 seats for very cheap. Office 2013 is amazing, the collaboration isn't as good as Google's...yet, but Google is so far behind on everything else, that it really don't matter at this point.
  • by asshole felcher (2655639) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @12:54AM (#42401443)
    Additionally, there are multiple online latex editors (eg, https://www.writelatex.com [writelatex.com]) if you want to be clouded.
  • Re:Is it just me? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Zadaz (950521) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @12:56AM (#42401461)

    My experience says differently. I had given Google Docs a chance years ago, but it outright stank. I couldn't image why someone would want to use it.

    Then a few months ago I started writing for a major tech publisher. When I asked what file format they wanted they responded "Word if you must but we love Google Docs". So Google Docs it was. And I was very pleasantly surprised. It worked slickly, speedily and no unexpected surprises. (This is with Chrome on OS X.) Compared to the OS X version of Word, which reminds me that the The Spinning Beach Ball of Death is still a real thing, I almost overwhelmingly preferred Goog.

    There are a few things it won't let me do that I'm used to. Captioning images is one. Which doesn't work well in Word either, but is apparently not possible in Docs. I also use tables a lot and the table formatting options stink. But otherwise I found it met all my needs and worked better and faster than Word.

  • Re:Absurd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @01:14AM (#42401543)
    I'm going to have to agree. Google docs is in the ~1993 stage of office suites. Windows Phone is in the ~2009 stage. The nice part for Google is that word processing is a largely solved problem. Google is chasing a largely static target. Unfortunately for MS, they are chasing two competitors that are anything but a static target.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @02:03AM (#42401777)

    I got through college just fine using OpenOffice and I still recommend it to people

    It's perfectly usable for college, sure.

    But I think it's doing the average college student a real disservice to recommend to everyone they use OpenOffice and not Word. Think of the poor history major; unless they go on to some kind of advanced degree a proficient skill in Word may be the only marketable skill they have!

    If a college student has never used word you have introduced a real hurdle to them performing well in any company job right out of the gate.

  • by narcc (412956) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @02:16AM (#42401813) Journal

    Or is it just them failing to comply with MS's flawed published document standards that not even MS complies with?

    How could they? The OpenXML standard is more than 6500 pages long!

    Part 4, the Markup Language Reference, weighs in at 5756 pages -- 5756 pages -- to define "every element and attribute, the hierarchy of parent/child relationships for elements, and additional semantics as appropriate"

    It's madness. Pure madness. No one in their right mind could claim that such a ridiculous, impossible-to-follow, standard couldn't (or shouldn't) be dramatically simplified!

    It should surprise no one that Microsoft fails to comply with their own standard -- and why it's virtually impossible to produce an implementation that is completely compatible with Microsoft Office.

  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @02:43AM (#42401909)
    In a way, the choice of word processor is more or less irrelevant by comparison with the level of trust involved in putting my files in the hands of someone I don't personally know. If anything should happen to files on my own hard drives, I at least only have myself to blame for not having secured or backed them up. But there is always the risk that Google might be compromised, either from the outside or by some rogue sysadmin, and I don't want to even think about trying to claim any redress against Google if they fuck up.

    Further, since I live a long way away from urban amenities, I can't count on the availability of a constant internet connection, which could easily put me in a bind if I had my files stored in the so-called "cloud".

    So, FWIW, my choice is simple: LibreOffice, since I don't run Windows. There will always be someone who will bitch that the free software suite doesn't have this or that all-important niche feature, but it has pretty much covered everything I need since it was StarOffice - only, of course, infinitely better now.
  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @04:23AM (#42402203) Homepage

    But it's the same problem that Word has. Get a doc from Word 2010, send it to somebody with Word 2003, then Word 97 then 2008 for OS X and hilarity ensues. This is where Google might have a leg up. The couldnt create such a clusterfuck of file formats if they tried.

  • by Zemran (3101) on Thursday December 27, 2012 @05:40AM (#42402457) Homepage Journal

    I am a teacher and everything I do involves collaboration. With Gmail Docs, I can have a document open with both the student (at their home) and myself looking at the same doc at the same time and I can even see where the student has their cursor. It is the dog's bolox. I never dreamed that such a perfect solution would arrive so soon.

    Does that mean that I think that it is the best office suite? No, of course not. Why do all these articles overlook the simple fact that what is the dog's bolox for one person is just a dog for someone else. My friend runs his business on an Excel spreadsheet that has an incredible macro that requests all the information that the person taking the first call needs to ask the customer, receives that data and provides a quote and work sheets for the guys that do the work and then invoices and accounts etc. Complete package in one, I think he is mad but he thinks he has God in software form. I know that Google Docs is really God in software form.

  • by frisket (149522) <peter@nOSpam.silmaril.ie> on Thursday December 27, 2012 @08:23AM (#42402895) Homepage

    [...] basically the entire enterprise world.

    Most corporate documents are transient: they are critical for a very short time, until a high-level decision is made, and then they're basically landfill. Contracts, sure, you might want to go back and look at them, but pretty much everything else is ephemeral. They use change tracking and comments, but hardly ever stylesheets.

    Documentation, particularly professionally-written documentation, on the other hand, needs named styles, and this is where OO, LO, and GD fall flat on their faces. Word lets you set a style margin, where each paragraph-level object's style name can be seen at a glance. In other systems you have to hover or click or something on each object in turn. Editing or writing in this mode is a snap compared to OO, LO, and GD. Named styles are the only way that you can reliably get a reusable XML document out of a wordprocessor (ie not OOXML), and without proper facilities in the interface to manage styles, a wordprocessor is a dead duck.

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