What Is Google's Equivalent to Microsoft Office?
By Sarah Morse
Google's equivalent to Microsoft Office was originally called Google Docs, a service now assimilated into Google Drive. With editing, storage and sharing capabilities, Google Drive makes a powerful resource for business professionals, students and other individuals looking for an alternative to Office. It has many of the same features, but as a Web-based service differs from Microsoft Office in some essential ways.
Google combines all of its apps into one service, Google Drive, which acts like a folder containing all of your created documents. By pressing the "Create" button, you can choose to create a "Document," equivalent to a file in Microsoft Word; a "Spreadsheet," equivalent to a file in Excel; a "Presentation," equivalent to a PowerPoint file; or a "Drawing," equivalent to a Microsoft Visio file. You can also create forms and connect to a number of other available Google applications. These programs have all the basic features of their Microsoft equivalents. You can even upload and edit certain Microsoft files, such as Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.
Storage and Sharing
The major difference between Microsoft Office and Google's equivalent comes with the latter's sharing and real-time editing capabilities. You can certainly share files when using Microsoft Office, but not without a third-party sharing application like Dropbox. Microsoft does have Web apps that have similar sharing capabilities to Google Drive, but the home office program is mostly desktop-based. With Google Drive, if you press "Share" while viewing a file, you can add editors who can also edit the file, even while you're editing it yourself. Google provides 5GB of free space for your files and can upgrade for more storage.
As an added bonus, Google Drive allows you to access your files anywhere you have an Internet connection. Since you can access the Internet from just about everywhere, you no longer have to worry about whether you saved a file to the right place or if you have the right flash drive.
The Web-based nature of Google Drive can prove advantageous, but it can also create problems. If, for example, your home or office loses its connection to the Internet, you cannot edit the files in your Google Drive. You can download a desktop app that enables you to edit offline, but this is an extra step that you must know to take before the power goes out and your collaborators won't be able to see any updates until you can connect again. The Web applications in Google Drive have enough features for basic use but do not have the full complexity of Microsoft Office. If you need to do advanced formatting or editing, you may require a more powerful program.
Sarah Morse has been a writer since 2009, covering environmental topics, gardening and technology. She holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature, a master's degree in English and a master's degree in information science.