Office 2010 Online and Google Docs Really Are Different


I've been following the tussle between Google and Microsoft this week with a mixture of amusement and amazement. If you haven't been following along at home, Microsoft took a dip into the cloud with the release Office 2010 Online this past week. Meanwhile, Google, feeling a wee bit threatened by Microsoft honing in on its territory in the cloud, took a few pot shots at Redmond's offering in a blog post on the Official Google Blog.

Microsoft's Alex Payne, director of online product management at Microsoft fired back with a lengthy blog post of his own the following day and the rumble was on. The fact is, however, if you look at these two products with an impartial eye, they actually are very different.

Office 2010 Online

The purpose of Office 2010 online is simple. It provides a place for Office 2010 users to share and access Office documents online. The key here is that you really need to be an Office 2010 user. It will work with earlier versions of Office back to 2003, but the whole idea is to provide an online environment for Microsoft shops. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, just so long as you understand that from the start. This is not really a place for open collaboration or to create a quick document. It's for Microsoft, which is just about par for the course, and shouldn't be anything we should be surprised about after watching Microsoft all these years.

Google Docs

Google Docs is a bit different. Anyone can use it, but it doesn't play quite as nicely with Office. I've copied and pasted Google Docs documents into Word, and it works OK, but you can lose some formatting in the process. If you want to work with people who use Office, you might be better off with the Microsoft offering because it should be compatible (emphasis on should here because I haven't tested it yet). Google Docs is great for me. I wrote this blog post there, as a matter of fact.

It provides a quick and convenient way to create and share fairly simple documents. You don't get sophisticated features here (but neither do you in Office 2010 online). So while Google and Microsoft can snipe at each other, the fact is their products serve different audiences and different purposes.

If you were starting a business today, chances are you are not going to spend the money on expensive Office licenses when there are are reasonable and cheap (even free) alternatives like Google Docs. If you're a Microsoft shop, and you are using Office, then the Office Online addition is a very nice feature that brings the Office paradigm into the 21st century. Beyond that there's nothing much to see here. We can now resume our regularly scheduled program where Apple continues to pound on Adobe.

Indian-Art commented: Insightful +0
About the Author

I am a Freelance Technology Journalist, blogger, FierceContentManagement editor and Contributing Editor at EContent Magazine. I have been writing about technology since 1988 and publishing credits include InsideCRM,, Streaming Media Magazine, eWeek, BusinessWeek SmallBiz and Network World. I have also written White Papers, documentation and training for a variety of corporate clients, big and small. I co-founded [url][/url] in 2009 and contributes regularly to its content. You can learn more by visiting my blog, by Ron Miller at [URL][/url].

I won an Apex Award for Publications Excellence in Feature Writing in 2006, 2007 and 2008.

You can subscribe to my DaniWeb blog with Feedburner by following this link: [url=]My feedburner subscription link[/url]

Indian-Art 0 Newbie Poster

I find OpenOffice is a great alternative. It's free and works very well with GoogleDocs and Zoho. It's like my Offline Zoho or Google Docs. Very useful when the Internet is slow or not available. In fact, I find it has several features that 'online word processors' don't (& I'm not even a power user) ;)

I use the extension OpenOffice.org2GoogleDocs (gdocs_2.2.0.oxt 2.2.0): This extension helps me upload to Google Docs or Zoho in just 2 clicks!

I also sometimes use Lotus Symphony which I find very helpful.

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

That sounds like a great approach. Thanks for commenting.


Singleton -4 Newbie Poster

If you were starting a business today, chances are you are not going to spend the money on expensive Office licenses when there are are reasonable and cheap (even free) alternatives like Google Docs.

Okay, you run your business on Google Docs.  99% of the workforce uses Microsoft Excel, Outlook, and Word.  Try doing some serious financial analysis with some online spreadsheets software - it's not nearly the same.   

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

Let's be realistic here. I'm not saying Office is good, bad or indifferent. I'm stating an obvious fact. If you have a limited budget and you can do 90 percent of what you need to do on a free tool, you are not going to set up with expensive licenses when there are lots of free and low cost alternatives. If you need Excel, you'll buy a copy for the one or two people who need it, or you'll see if you can get by with Open Office. Excel is not the only option out there and the alternatives are perfectly fine for word processing and presentations without spending money.

Thanks for commenting.


Singleton -4 Newbie Poster

IMO, Excel is the only option. These online "alternatives" (read sarcastically) are just basically toys. Most office workers are trained in the Microsoft product suite. Not everyone is a computer geek. If you were to look at TCO, it surely would cost more money to retrain employees to use a "free" alternative then to just pay the license fee and provide them with a more comprehensive, feature filled office suite in the first place. OpenOffice is basically the only viable competitor, as it is a real suite. But again, MS Office is the de facto standard and Google Docs is not taking them down any time soon.

Singleton -4 Newbie Poster

Also, I would like to point out that it would be way more useful to the reader if you discussed actual features in these products and maybe provided screenshots. I feel like your reading tech news and just writing how you feel about things.

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

This is an opinion piece. We also run reviews, but this isn't one of them. I disagree with your feelings about online alternatives. Tools like Google Docs are not toys. They are just as valid as Office and for enterprise users, much cheaper, for individual small business users, free.

Thanks for your comments and ideas.


Converted 0 Newbie Poster

Google Docs was just ok and that was when it was the only serious game in town. Office online is here ( you've got to wonder why anyone who steps out from under a rock would use google docs anymore.

Unless they get into a feature war, there is little reason to stay with docs and a whole slew of reasons to switch.

Techwriter10 42 Practically a Posting Shark

I've used both and since I don't use Office 2010, Google Docs is a much better choice for me. As I said, in the post, they are different and have different purposes and goals. Office is really an online world to share Office 2010 docs. If you're in that environment, it's a great choice for you. If you're not, Google's a great choice too.

Thanks for commenting.

fast5 0 Newbie Poster

Microsoft is only concerned with their own products only, may only be compatible with the standalone version of Microsoft Office, but I'm still using office 2003 with format converter, and using google docs for online sharing service, no problems with compatibility, office 2003 files can be easily opened on google docs

Be a part of the DaniWeb community

We're a friendly, industry-focused community of developers, IT pros, digital marketers, and technology enthusiasts learning and sharing knowledge.