Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word: Which One Is Suitable for You?

Calvince Nyawara



Google Docs is accessible from any device, using any modern web browser. While Microsoft users can install Word and other 365 apps on only five devices, Google allows users to access Google Docs and the rest of Google Workspace on an unlimited number of devices.


Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word


There's no question that Microsoft Word has many more features than Google Docs. So, if you want severe formatting and layout work, then Microsoft Word is your app. But, if you're doing only basic word processing, then Google Docs may be all you need.


Docs are accessible from any device, using any modern web browser. While Microsoft users can install Word and other 365 apps on only five devices, Google allows users to access Docs and the rest of Google Workspace on unlimited devices.


This article compares two popular word processors to help you decide which one is best suited for your needs. Discover the flexibility of using Google Docs and learn how it compares with Microsoft Word.


Why compare Microsoft Office and Google Docs?


It can be a daunting task to find the right Word processing software for you. Some are free; others need a monthly subscription. You want something that is easy enough for everyone to use and has all the features you need. But too many features become complicated and confusing.


The question then becomes: what program do I choose?


So, this article compares these popular word processors: Google Docs and Microsoft Word. We highlight their similarities and differences to help you make your decision easier.


The Key Difference and Similarities Between Google Docs and Microsoft Word


Word or Google Docs can handle their own when it comes to filing compatibility. Both can open standard word formats and process extensions like HTML and PDF. The most notable difference in compatibility is when saving a Google Doc file, you will need to save it as a Microsoft Word compatible file or simply convert it.


Do you want to know how to choose between Google Docs and Microsoft Word?


Let's look at the two office productivity tools in the market today.


A comparison of available features will touch on the critical differences between the two apps and help you pick the best one for your unique needs.


For Windows users, Microsoft Word is one of the most famous programs for writing all sorts of files. It's easy to use and comes with all Microsoft Office suites. The desktop version is powerful enough to meet your needs in many scenarios. Microsoft Word also has a companion app compatible with iOS and Android devices that offer basic editing features on the go.


Google Docs started as a Microsoft Word alternative. It doesn't replace Word, but it's a good substitute. It's free and can be used from anywhere with an internet connection. Google Docs is compatible across all devices, as it's hosted online rather than installed on your PC. It offers limited features but comes with great add-ons developed by the community.


Files on Google Docs are stored as one type, although you can download a file in different formats, including DOC, DOCX, PDF, RTF, plain text, and HTML. Microsoft Word offers a wider variety of file formats in which you can save your documents.


Google Docs Vs. Microsoft Word: 7 Advantages of Google Docs over Microsoft Word


Here are 7 features you need to pay attention to when deciding between Google Docs vs. Microsoft word:


1. Accessibility - Cloud based and Full cloud cloud functionality 


We are increasingly becoming a mobile workforce. Whether we are at home, on the company's premises, or on vacation, we want to be able to access our files as fast and as quickly as possible. Microsoft Word is Microsoft's flagship product that has been used for decades. It is available almost everywhere – from your mobile phone, tablet, and when you reconnect to a PC.


Google Docs is even more accessible because it's cloud-based and has full cloud functionality like the rest of Google Workspace. You can view and edit your documents on Google docs from any browser and any device. You just have to log into your Google account. While Microsoft Word doesn't allow you to view and edit Microsoft Office files without Microsoft Office installed, Google Docs allows you to do so, as it's a browser-based app on an unlimited number of devices.


In this category, Google Docs wins, but Microsoft is also starting to make its products more mobile-friendly. Microsoft Office apps for Android and iPhone devices have taken a good step.


2. Pricing


Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office both come at a fee. If you don't want to pay, you can't legally have access to this software. That's something to remember when deciding which app to invest in.


Purchasing Microsoft Word as a standalone product will cost you around USD 139.99 at Microsoft. Alternatively, you can subscribe to Office 365 for $99.99 a year or $9.99 monthly.


Google Docs, on the other hand, is free and available to any user who has access to a browser and an internet connection.


3. Reliability: Automatic auto-save & simpler file organization


Take it from someone who frequently works with Google Docs. There's nothing more frustrating than being unable to edit a document because the internet connectivity is having issues. Since Docs is browser-based, it requires you to have a stable internet connection in order to view, edit, and save files.


Microsoft Word is always available to you, even with no internet connection. Microsoft creates its own clouds with Microsoft OneDrive and Office 365 to ensure you can sync files across multiple devices, too.


Remember that losing your files is more likely when you work with Word. Since Google Docs is online, autosave is automatic and saves your document every few seconds in Google Drive. Users can always access their files, regardless of the browser they're using or which device they’re logging in from. They don’t have to worry about carrying around flash drives or emailing files to themselves. Also, IT admins can set up team (shared) drives and folders according to job functions, department, project team, etc.


Microsoft Word only saves your changes periodically when connected to your Microsoft account online or has the autosave feature enabled. Furthermore, Microsoft offers an autosave feature, but it’s not turned on by default. This autosave isn't available if a user is saving a file to their local device. 


We can't give a clear winner here, so it's up to your preferences which application you choose to work more reliably.


4. Interface and Features


Google Docs is highly user-friendly and relatively streamlined. While it's easy to pick up and master, the lack of features may knock off some points for most users. It's barebones compared to Microsoft Word, especially without any third-party add-ons.

Google dcs interface

Microsoft Word can be overwhelming and challenging to get started with, but taking the time to learn everything may be more beneficial. This software goes up above and beyond to provide every tool you could ever need when writing just about anything.

Microsoft word interface

Microsoft Word comes with a variety of templates that you can use for various projects, such as resumes, blog posts, reports, and more. Google Docs templates do exist, but using them is a hassle.


If you require advanced features and want to work faster, we definitely recommend sticking to Word for its rich features. It's a heavyweight app that packs a solid punch to get you through any obstacles.


5. Compatibility


Microsoft Word is compatible with Microsoft Windows, macOS X, iOS, and Android. The desktop versions allow you to store your files in the cloud without any issues whatsoever. You can also save files locally, which is a leg up over Google Docs' strictly online storage.


Docs can be accessed through any web browser, such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and Mozilla Firefox. This allows you to use it for document writing even on unsupported systems.


Both apps let you open and edit a wide variety of file types. However, Google has a slight advantage over Microsoft in this department. Docs allow you to save what you wrote in many formats, including DOCX, ODT, PDF, RTF, HTML, TXT, and EPUB. Word Online documents can only be saved as PDF, ODT, or DOCX.


Once again — no clear winner. It all depends on what your needs are for editing different types of files and exporting documents.


6. Collaboration


While remote and real-time collaboration is possible in both applications. Google provides a simple collaborative feature – just share the document link, and others can edit it.


Microsoft is not entirely helpless when it comes to collaboration features either. With Office 365, Microsoft has implemented a shared folder system where users can share documents and projects. The downside is that everyone you want to invite to work with you in real time has to be subscribed to Office 365.


In Microsoft Word, the ability for multiple users to collaborate and edit in real-time depends on a number of factors:

  • Which device is each user working on
  • Whether all users are part of the same organization
  • Where the document being worked on is stored


Collaboration is a win for Google Docs. This doesn't mean that you can't collaborate efficiently in Word. However, Word loses points for a costly and complicated process.


There are 2 ways to collaborate in Google Docs, both of them simple:


  1. Enter the other users’ email addresses under “Share with people and groups,” and Google will send them invitations to access the document.

  2. Choose “Get link” to receive a link, which can be sent to other users manually.


Google Docs can track changes (comments and changes appear instantly) when two or more users are editing concurrently. This happens in real-time without considering the file storage location or device. In fact, one user can simultaneously have the same document open on multiple devices.


If you have an upcoming meeting and want to view if someone has looked at a file you shared, you'll just check out the activity dashboard in Google Docs. This will allow you to see who has viewed it, the number of open comments, and sharing history. 


7. Add-ons and Plugins


Microsoft Office as a whole offers a lot of options when it comes to add-ons and plugins. Microsoft allows you to install third-party connectors like IFTTT (If This Then That) or Zaps that connect Microsoft Office with other Microsoft products and services.

collaboration in google docs

For example, you can connect Microsoft Access to Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Excel to Microsoft SharePoint. This functionality also expands to Word and allows you to create efficient workflows.


The Google ecosystem doesn't offer as many integrations at the time of this writing. You can still use add-ons to make Docs even more productive, but they are not as robust as Microsoft's. Microsoft will also update and improve their add-ons far more often, which means Microsoft Word will always be up to date.


While Docs will most likely never reach the same level of professionalism as Word, it gets close to it. If you're dedicated enough, you can mimic many Word-Esque features missing from Docs by utilizing add-ons.


Final Thoughts


Microsoft Word and Google Docs are excellent word processors that can be used for various purposes. If you're just using the program to write documents, then it's hard to beat Microsoft Word with its wide array of features and compatibility across all devices. But if you need something more user-friendly or want your document saved in the cloud, then Google Docs is probably better suited as an option.


Despite these comparisons, Docs still has a leg over Microsoft Word in certain places. Did you make your choice yet? After picking the perfect software, check our Help Center and Blog for guides, tips, and tricks to help you get started.


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