Google Docs vs. Microsoft Office Web Apps

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Five ways Google Docs beats Office Web Apps

Both offer free apps for individual users. Microsoft charges $6 a month or $72 a year for up to 50 business users. Google charges businesses $50 per user per year. Read the story version.

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Google's collaboration tools are excellent, allowing users to co-edit documents and discuss them in real-time. Plus, you can email documents as attachments right from the app. Any document can also be saved or emailed as a PDF file, which can be handy.

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Google Web Apps has more formatting tools, hundreds of fonts and templates and – most importantly – autosave. Word Web App does offer a preview option that preserves more of the original Word formatting, but the faithfulness disappears when you drop into editing mode.

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The Microsoft Excel Web App doesn't support macros, but Google's spreadsheet app does support scripting – plus a wide variety of functions that allow data to be pulled from elsewhere on the web. For example, you can pull in live stock quotes from Google Finance, NCAA results, get instant translations from Google Translate, and import data from outside feeds.

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Google Docs has a nice application for collaboratively creating simple graphics and charts online. There is no equivalent tool in the Office Web Apps.

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Five ways Microsoft Web Apps beats Google Docs

Microsoft's Office Web Apps are located on its SkyDrive platform, which currently comes with 7GB free storage, plus an unlimited amount of storage for the associated Hotmail or Outlook.com email account. Each additional 100GB is $50 per year. Google Docs are located on the Google Drive platform, which currently comes with 5GB free – in addition to the 10GB for the associated Gmail account and unlimited storage for Google Docs and shared documents. Each additional 100GB is $60 per year.

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The PowerPoint Web App offers a choice of nine starting templates, while Google's presentation app offers 20 – but the PowerPoint templates are nicer than Google's. Both have all the basic editing tools, and ability to share the presentations with the public and embed them into websites.

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Microsoft has the OneNote Web App, which, like the other Office Web Apps, is a less-functional version of the original. Most critically, it is still missing a print functionality. However, it's a big improvement over Google Docs' Notebook app, which was completely shut down about a year ago.

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The inability to freeze rows and better collaboration gives Google Docs the edge for web-only users, but better integration with Excel gives the Microsoft app the edge for existing Office users.

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According to Microsoft, all the Office Web Apps documents are fully editable on iOS and Windows tablets, and are optimised for the touch interface. The tablet version of the Google Drive app doesn't have a lot of functionality.

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Latest UK Updated 12:58pm

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