back to article Does Microsoft have what it takes to topple Google Docs?

If you were to start a business today, would you bother buying desktop software for productivity and collaboration? Probably not, you'd employ some software option delivered as a service. For enterprises with a history of legacy, the move to online versions of on-prem is trickier but is being done. The question, however, is …

  1. J J Carter Silver badge
    Windows

    The world turned upside down!

    Am I dreaming, a fair critique of MSFT offerings in El Reg?

    1. Andy 97

      Re: The world turned upside down!

      It's all gone covfefe.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The world turned upside down!

        Yes but this seems to be positive covfefe.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. hplasm Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: The world turned upside down!

          Decaf Covfefe, anyone?

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: The world turned upside down!

      Did this (very good) article's headline just get out of a Delorian?

      Microsoft have been wiping the floor with Google Docs for a couple of years now. There is a reason why you can get books on Amazon to help migrate from Google to Microsoft, but not visa versa....

      1. samster
        WTF?

        Re: The world turned upside down!

        Strongly disagree!

        1. I can open a password protected WORD or Powerpoint doc with Google's viewer but not with Office 363* - ridiculous!

        2.. Online collaboration is still clunky (cr*p) with Office 363*. I've had clients who are up and running on Google Doc for realtime collaboration across any device within minutes. To do the same on Office 363 takes a LOT of setup.

        3. Google Docs is much more mobile/cross-platform friendly. It just works...

        *there's still 2 days of downtime per annum :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The world turned upside down!

          Very close to no one uses the online versions of Office. Single digit percentages of the Office user base. Everyone still uses the thick clients on PC... and why wouldn't you if you are paying a large premium for them.

          1. nilfs2
            Windows

            Re: The world turned upside down!

            I do use the online version of Office apps at work, thick Outlook sucks donkey balls, OWA is where it is at, I have Debian on my work laptop, so it's nice to be able to use office without firing up a Windows VM. I use Libre Office from time to time, the problem with it is that it brakes the format on documents, specially marcos, if I didn't have to share documents with customers and coworkers, I would stick to libre Office, but that is not the case.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The world turned upside down!

        "Microsoft have been wiping the floor with Google Docs for a couple of years now. There is a reason why you can get books on Amazon to help migrate from Google to Microsoft, but not visa versa...."

        No one is migrating from Google to MSFT. The opposite it true. Verizon, Colgate, BBVA.. giant companies are migrating to Google. As MSFT started with close to 100% of the market a little over five years ago, they are still the market leader... but there has been much more movement away from MSFT.

        You may think MSFT is better (I do not), but at the end of the day, MSFT was and is just charging monopoly prices for simple stuff, word processing is not cutting edge. The question is not "what do you like better?". The question is, "tell me how our company is going to make an additional $600,000 a year in profit with Outlook, etc? Because that is the MSFT upcharge vs Google".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The world turned upside down!

          Agree, there is really two groups pushing for Google. All the young people and financially prudent older people.... It is a strange confluence. Where the cool, new thing to do is also has the best business case.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The world turned upside down!

          "No one is migrating from Google to MSFT."

          Nope, lot of companies are migrating from Google Apps to Office 365. There are plenty of job adverts for exactly that. I have yet to see any adverts for someone migrating from Office 365 to Google!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The world turned upside down!

            "Nope, lot of companies are migrating from Google Apps to Office 365. There are plenty of job adverts for exactly that. I have yet to see any adverts for someone migrating from Office 365 to Google!"

            Yeah, that's just not true. Battle cry of the MSFT admin or something. I just gave you the name of a bunch of companies with many tens or hundreds of thousands of users that have migrated to Google. I am not familiar with one company of any size that has migrated from Google to O365... maybe LinkedIn (although, humorously, I think they are still on Google).

            Also, what sort of "job adverts" are you looking at where they are asking for experience migrating from one productivity solution to another? Are these three month jobs? Usually consultants or business partners do all that work anyway.

  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Publisher?

    Wow, I mean, just...wow! It sounds wonderful. Hang on a sec and I'll fire up my Office 365 subscription and get to work finishing my latest Publisher doc 'in the Cloud' (wow, doesn't that sound sooooo sexy and cool?)

    What? You mean...there isn't a version of Publisher in Office 365?

    Oh pooh.

    1. MyffyW Silver badge

      Office and Clouds and Stuff

      I love the sound of all this fluffy cloud stuff. Makes me want to put on my purple party dress and play with My Little Pony.

      Oh wait, I grew up 20 years ago and bitter experience has shown that life is just a bit more complicated than all that...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Office and Clouds and Stuff

        "Oh wait, I grew up 20 years ago and bitter experience has shown that life is just a bit more complicated than all that..."

        Probably what the guy at the steam plant said in 1930 about electricity distribution via power lines from a utility. "It would be great if we could just run a line into our building and pull as much electricity as we need out of the air, but it's more complex than that." It isn't though.

    2. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Publisher?

      Publisher is in my Office 365 subscription... /shrug

    3. Roq D. Kasba

      Re: Publisher?

      No, although a 365 sub gets you the latest downloadable if you want it :)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good article

    We're in the process of moving to O365 (it's cheaper than replacing an Exchange server) and coming up against some of the issues raised here. TBH, I can't believe how bad the local sync with OneDrive and SharePoint is at the moment (though all apparrently solved in On-Demand, coming soon - https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/31/cloud_collaboriation_suite_microsoft/) and how people have coped with it thus far.

    As a legacy company staffed with pre-millenials (people who I see using caps lock rather than shift to type the uppercase characters in the password they still don't think they need) we are tied in to the mindset of local copies of office, but I'm slowly changing it. I worry about handing over control to faceless MS engineers working on best endeavours, but put simply, it's a financial decision I can't argue with; simple monthly subscription compared to the Capex of purchasing new hardware and sofware etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good article

      That's odd because I have looked at going cloudy and it costs.....and costs and costs and costs. True I have an investment in hardware and buying licenses, but instead of a cost per user (not device) that goes on for ever, I can amortize the cost over a significantly longer period. And hardware is cheap, of course it helps if you don't use overpriced and hardware heavy bloatware like Exchange for eMail.

      For example Office 2007 is perfectly adequate for 99.9% of users with Office, so it's already cost be about 10% of the cost of a subscription service to own those licenses for that time.

      Monthly subscriptions are "easy" but believe me if you add up the costs over 5 years, or 7 or 8, there's no contest, subscription is damn expensive and a cash drain especially for startups. And you get cash squeezed and can't pay briefly - bye bye service, and by-bye business as well.

      Cloud is popular because the vendors want the security of easy constant cashflow; it isn't intended to be less expensive for the users; in fact it is working exactly as intended in that it is typically more expensive for users.

      1. RudderLessIT

        Re: Good article

        "For example Office 2007 is perfectly adequate for 99.9% of users with Office, so it's already cost be about 10% of the cost of a subscription service to own those licenses for that time"

        You are dreaming

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Good article

          "You are dreaming"

          No he isn't. What feature do you need in 2010 which just isn't there in 2007? I'm not talking about stuff breaking because MSFT messes with the formats between versions to create a need to upgrade. I mean a thing which users all need to do which just doesn't exist in previous versions.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Good article

            At the end of the day, much of this is commodity software. Email, word processing, spreadsheets, file shares. It needs to exist, but there is no justification for companies paying millions of dollars... many tens of millions per year if you are a really large enterprise... for these basic software applications. You can argue that Outlook is better than Gmail, or you can argue that Gmail is much better than Outlook. I think a fair assessment would be that either will work just fine. That is why I think Google is going to do well. They are just dramatically less costly than MSFT and MSFT is holding on to a pricing level from a previous era when some of this software was cutting edge and they dominated the market. The price levels are long past due to fall substantially.

      2. Sampler

        Re: Good article

        Is that the same office 2007 that's now no longer supported (and something I raised at the company I just merged into).

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "can't believe how bad..local sync with OneDrive..at the moment..solved in On-Demand, coming soon -

      And there we have "The Microsoft Way" in a nutshell.

      "This version is a bit s**t but trust us, the next one will be better"

      and maybe it will fix them. Or not (if not enough people b**ch about it)

      A SaaS looks much like software on a mainframe to some people with very good reason.

      Except historically MF operators didn't spy on your data for their own good.

      People bought personal computers in the first place to have their data under their control. It's going to take another generation to remind the current generation of what it feels like when your data is under someone else's control and you can't do a thing about it.

  4. stephanh Silver badge

    if I'd start a new company

    ...I would use LibreOffice and set up an OwnCloud server for sharing documents. That way, I would save $$$ and keep control over my own data.

    But this is probably reactionary thinking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: if I'd start a new company

      You're missing the whole point; you're not the one setting up the company, it's people who are making, doing or selling things that are. They don't want - and in some cases need - IT staff and are happy paying the little extra cash if it means they don't need to deal with geeks, particularly the sort who tell them they're doing it all wrong and send them down the trail of Libre Office if it means there's a chance that the spreadsheet they get from A N Outside Company doesn't just bloody well work like it should.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: "they don't need to deal with geeks"

        Sure, right up until their cloudy servers are down, they've Wanna-encrypted their own documents and nobody has a proper backup.

        Then they'll complain about how expensive proper support is.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "they don't need to deal with geeks"

          I'm not debating the rights and wrongs of it, just the realities. Most of them won't experience those catastrophes and, despite doing IT "all wrong", will manage just fine. Lots of companies have survived in this mode for years and many more will, the difference now being that they'll have far more professional IT, for similar cost, to the years when the boss was doing it in his spare time, or palming it off to his nephew who knows about computers...

          1. Triggerfish

            Re: "they don't need to deal with geeks"

            AC is right though. I have worked with SMEs for a few years, and generally speaking thats what happens, you may get them upgrading if the company grows and suddenly they have a few more office staff but until then something like 365 is perfect and for the most part works pretty well.

            You can complain they do not understand, and you are correct in the same way you may not understand what they do.

            It's also a cost thing, say for example you have someone running a small manufactory it has a dozen staff, most are on the shop floor, office wise you have the owner of the company and a office staff member that does everything else. Now lets say he has a few K to spare (unlikely), he could either go out and get a new overlocker for the shop floor, an essential bit of kit for his business and that brings in money, or some IT guy could come up and say, hey I'll convert you across to libre office and build you your own personal cloud give the money to me, yeah I know office 365 is costing you only £30 a month and is not causing any problems, but let me build you a server, set it up maintain it and so on.

            Hows that going to turn out?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "they don't need to deal with geeks"

              Spot on Triggerfish; I work for a far larger manufacturing company and have had capex taken off me in recent years for various things that actually make the company money. Persuading the bosses - in particular, the ones in head office abroad - to spend money on servers they can't see, that don't obviously bring in revenue, is hard. Far easier to slip it under the radar in the form of operating expenses on a monthly basis, and for the most part, better for the company. Whilst I consider myself pretty leet with Exchange, am I really better than the guys that build out datacentres? With less tinkering to do onsite, I can focus on value-add to the firm; better for them, better for my career...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "they don't need to deal with geeks"

                This is often correct. Management are often very short-sighted on costs; it is easier to spend $50K over 5 years than $10K upfront once in 5 years. One is "expenses" and just gets paid, the other is capital and gets heavily scrutinized and held up for ages.

                The biggest driver I've seen in going to O365 is precisely this, bugger the costs (it goes up, usually way up, over time) but it saves arsing about with capital approvals.

              2. DonL

                Re: "they don't need to deal with geeks"

                "Persuading the bosses - in particular, the ones in head office abroad - to spend money on servers they can't see, that don't obviously bring in revenue, is hard. Far easier to slip it under the radar in the form of operating expenses on a monthly basis, and for the most part, better for the company."

                It's called leasing, and afterwards you get to keep them and they just keep on working without the monthly costs.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Linux

            Re: "they don't need to deal with geeks"

            I figure as a company owner, I can dictate policy. Then I set up the policy: Linux/BSD workstations, open/libre office, 'google docs' when shared things are needed (but only IF needed), local source repo, github for anything that's open source, and "the Windows machine" (running 7) if anything 'windows' must be used for some reason. And no web browsing from the windows machine. EVAR.

            then you purchase Linux versions of everything you need, or use open source versions, etc..

            and you hire people that agree with this policy.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Then they'll complain about how expensive proper support is."

          Then they'll ofshore what little support remains to India to save a few squid.

          Who will the uses complain to then? Someone from India telling them to power cycle their PC (in an endless tape loop)

          Oh wait, users will use LibreOffice on a USB Key and backup everything on the QT locally, just like they did before because Orifice 36x is never available when they need it.

          Yes I'm a cynical BOF

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: if I'd start a new company

        "They don't want - and in some cases need - IT staff and are happy paying the little extra cash if it means they don't need to deal with geeks"

        Yeah, but that is why people should use Google. That's what, most, of the users want and use. I would be willing to walk into any company, no info before hand, and just say "Let's poll the users. If a majority have selected Gmail when they were free to choose anything, we'll use Gmail. If a majority have selected Outlook.com or Outlook thick client when they were free to choose whatever they think works best, then we'll use Outlook and pay more to get it. Let the users choose." I wouldn't be implementing very much Outlook. IT likes MSFT because they know it. The end users don't want any of that stuff. They want Apple and Google for the large part.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: if I'd start a new company

          "The end users don't want any of that stuff."

          End users overwhelmingly want Outlook. Especially power users.

      3. hplasm Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: if I'd start a new company

        "IT staff and are happy paying the little extra cash if it means they don't need to deal with geeks..."

        Your IT staff should BE geeks- or you deserve to be rinsed by MS and their Toy OS.

        Over and over, as usual, for every penny they can squeeze from your stupid fingers.

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: if I'd start a new company

      "...I would use LibreOffice and set up an OwnCloud server for sharing documents. That way, I would save $$$ and keep control over my own data."

      Depends if you need to run business applications like macros, addins, etc. and to exchange documents with other companies, have centralised group policies, etc. If you are 1 man in a van Libre Office is probably mostly bearable. As soon as you need a proper enterprise grade solution the list of inadequacies is exceedingly large. Don't forget that licensing is usually only a small part of software TCO!

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: if I'd start a new company

        The operating expense thing is a good point, sometimes its better to have a monthly cash flow cost using office 365 written of as a service, than a big chunk going out on hardware. Been a while but once worked with a guy who ran a factory and was also a chartered accountant, he was always trying to reduce his monthly profit and write it off against costs, I could see him loving something like this as a monthly expense. (He considered himself an accountants accountant interpret that as you will).

        Have to say as well it does have some uses like freeing up time, I was a bit no don't put everything in the cloud etc but in general as long as you make sure that's not your only data storage and you back up like you should then it does free some time for people to play with tech a bit, and not worry as much about day to day admin duties, our lot certainly use that time to do stuff that we think will work for our company and it seems OK to me. We also have people who contract for us and its quite nice to be able to expand and contract as needed relatively simply and bill it against a project that used them.

        I still couldn't find myself wanting to really subscribe to something like a monthly office licence I'd rather just buy that software right out, but exchange online and the like has its uses.

    3. ad47uk

      Re: if I'd start a new company

      Depends on what the company is doing and how big it is and what market it is in. I know someone who runs a small business and they do not use any Microsoft software and that includes the OS as well. They use Apple Macs and Libre office. They have done ok so far.

      They do use Adobe software as well

      I also know of someone who also runs a small business and while they do use MS Office, they do not use office 365 or any online storage, they prefer to store stuff locally, a bit like myself really.

    4. Potemkine Silver badge

      Re: if I'd start a new company

      I am really disappointed with LO and its frequent freezes when doing simple things like copy and paste.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    1. Ralph B

      Indeed. TL;DR but I'm pretty sure that Betteridge's Law applies here.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "No."

        Do you work in our IT department?

  6. returnofthemus

    Yes!

    A 20-year head start and marginally less spyware, but I understand that they're working on it

  7. garrybrady

    Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

    I started my own business a few years back and used Google Docs. It was great and did all the things you need rather than than the vast feature sets of Office that noone typically uses.

    Then we started working more with other business who all use Office and had interop problems with file formats, especially folks with old PCs with old versions of Office. Nothing insurmountable but it was just adding a layer of extra hassle that was distracting me from my actual work.

    So then we moved to Office 365 Business Essentials which was only a bit more expensive than Google Docs for Business but was going to be worth it to make life easier. I thought that plan would be enough as I didn't want to shell out £11 per user just for basic email + Word and the business was still growing.

    However, over time I've discovered features that are just not present in web versions of Word like table of contents and track changes.... So MS have crippled it just enough to make it unusable in the real world and now I shell out £11 per user per month for what Google Docs did for a fraction of that all along...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

      I know it'll add extra admin, but aren't you on an MS plan that allows you install local copies of full-fat office to your PC? I'm paying less per month for the Business Premium version and that's one of the reasons I did it.

      1. garrybrady

        Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

        That's the plan I've ended up on - Business Premium which is £9.40 + VAT = £11(ish)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

      Aye, we did a comparison of Googles business offering, and Microsoft's, and Google's was easily the better offering, it was also the cheaper offering, and had a better rated end user experience.

      We switched 2 years ago, and it's going very well indeed. I also explained to the boss the other day, when asked about cloud security, how given a secure cloud (Microsoft and Google both offer secure cloud with 2FA), you are actually MORE secure, as there aren't tens if not hundreds of uncontrolled emailed around copies of documents, there is just the 1 document, and real-time access control to that document. At that point he "got it".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

        "there aren't tens if not hundreds of uncontrolled emailed around copies of documents"

        Exactly. Office is a giant security hole. Anyone can just grab docs and take them wherever, send them to anyone with no trail. Not to mention is is a huge productivity waste to work on a project and end up with 20 different versions of the doc which someone then needs to paste back together into one doc... as opposed to Google where it is just a single shared doc on the server which everyone can work on together in real time. Office was designed before the internet existed so it assumes people are working on lone PCs with no network connection.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

          "Exactly. Office is a giant security hole. Anyone can just grab docs and take them wherever, send them to anyone with no trail."

          I assume you mean Google Docs. Office has full rights management features and DLP protection - that extend onto Office 365. You can even bring your own keys onto HSMs specifically designed so that say the USA can't force access to EU stored documents from outside the EU. These sort of enterprise features are amongst the many things that Google Docs doesn't have...

        2. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

          "Not to mention is is a huge productivity waste to work on a project and end up with 20 different versions of the doc"

          You obviously are not aware that you can have multiple people edit a document at the same time in Office with full versioning control? It's been like that for ages. Both Office web and local install versions.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

            "I assume you mean Google Docs. Office has full rights management features and DLP protection - that extend onto Office 365. You can even bring your own keys onto HSMs specifically designed so that say the USA can't force access to EU stored documents from outside the EU. These sort of enterprise features are amongst the many things that Google Docs doesn't have..."

            Google has all of these enterprise features. Google has full rights management. Google has DLP across all of the applications. You can lock down every doc based on whatever rights or process you have in place. Totally configurable.

            Office has these features and, if the users keep the doc in the ecosystem, it works... the problem is that users never keep the docs in the ecosystem. They download them to local hard drives which go who knows where, they put them on USB keys which go who knows where, they copy and paste them into other docs which goes who knows where. That is the critical point. Could Office be as secure as Google Docs? Sure, if everyone changed the way they have been using Office for decades. Google natively stores docs on the server and access to docs comes off of the server. You would have to go well out of your way to download them... not the standard workflow and you can just prevent it altogether if you are so inclined (only let people work off the server). In Office, everyone stores everything locally... which is a huge security hole and a time waste.

            Put it this way. If your bank statements were always downloaded to the local device, whichever device you happened to be using, would that be secure? Then we could go on about all the ways those bank statements are DLPed and encrypted on the local device... but wouldn't you ask, "Why don't you just keep my bank statements on the server and show me the info in a browser instead of all this local downloading?" The same is true for Office, but it is just an ancient architecture and workflow which was designed before the advent of the internet.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

              "they put them on USB keys which go who knows where, they copy and paste them into other docs which goes who knows "

              That's all still controlled via the Office DRM. The document on the USB key would be encrypted and unable to be opened, printed etc except by an authorised user.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

            "You obviously are not aware that you can have multiple people edit a document at the same time in Office with full versioning control? It's been like that for ages. Both Office web and local install versions."

            And about .01% of people use that feature if we are talking about co-authoring. A very small percentage of the Office user base even knows a compromised version of co-authoring exists in Office.

            Why?

            Look at these restrictions: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Document-collaboration-and-co-authoring-ee1509b4-1f6e-401e-b04a-782d26f564a4

            So you need to have the docs shared out in OneDrive or SharePoint Online, which no one does... certainly not the standard workflow. They write them and save them locally. You then can't use things like VBA and all kinds of other common Office features or co-authoring doesn't work... e.g. "documents with track changes do not support real time co-authoring" Why?.... Microsoft also doesn't have Google's global network so the real time co-authoring lags like crazy.

            In Google, real time co-authoring is just the way it works. It's easy and intuitive. You don't need to read a manual and figure out which features you can and cannot use to co-author. It all works. Office has created this weak bolt on vs native functionality in Google.

    3. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

      "for what Google Docs did for a fraction of that all along..."

      I'm pretty sure Google Docs needs an Internet connection. You are paying a bit more for a local software install that will work offline.

      1. Planty Bronze badge
        FAIL

        Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

        I'm pretty sure it doesn't....

        https://support.google.com/docs/answer/6388102?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

        "You are paying a bit more for a local software install that will work offline."

        Google Docs work offline, offline mode. They cache locally and when a connection is restablished it syncs with the server copy automatically. It is all kind of a moot point as rare is the cicumstance in which someone doesn't have an internet connection or a smartphone (internet connection) but really needs to update a doc right now. Regardless, it works well.

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

      you might find that LIbre/Open office does pretty much everything that M$ Office does, will import/export "their formats", and last I checked, so will google docs (import/export "their formats").

      unless you're doing some kind of exotic formatting, the import/export translation is usually pretty good.

      I think it's FUD to suggest that google docs can't be used to communicate with other businesses. Why not just set up a temperary shoar link to the google doc and e-mail it? that's "communicating" isn't it?

      and last I checked, your personal google doc storage doesn't cost anything as long as you don't fill it up...

      1. garrybrady

        Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

        I'm not saying you can't use Google Docs, I did happily for a few years. It's just that when your​ business gets beyond a one man band then for better or worse Office is the only solution that just works as it's still the default in most businesses. Every other solution I tried involved some form of compromise which ultimately cost me time I could have spent generating income. I'm certainly not happy having to spent this much on a subscription but that's just the way it is for me.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

          "'s just that when your​ business gets beyond a one man band then for better or worse Office is the only solution that just works as it's still the default in most businesses."

          Five years ago maybe. Now a ton of big businesses use Google, more all the time. Office still leads in market share, but it's not unheard of... and G Suite has Office compatibility mode which works well. Or you could just share the doc via link with whoever needs to edit it.

    5. TReko

      Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

      There are quite a few apps that will convert Google Docs to Office and back again. After a merger, we decided to let users keep what they were familiar with and use Syncdocs (http://syncdocs.com) to do the conversion in the background.

      Still, if you have complicated Excel macros you're best off staying in Excel for the desktop, and not trying to convert these to Google Sheets or Office 365.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

      "Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses"

      After Google released Office compatibility mode? I use it all the time. It works well... I also don't want to reward MSFT for bad behavior. They intentionally avoid anything open standards based bc no would be a large premium for Office if everything was open standards. Enough people use Google though where that is breaking down for them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

        "They intentionally avoid anything open standards based bc no would be a large premium for Office if everything was open standards."

        Rubbish. The first thing Offices asks you when you start it for the first time is do you want to use ODX.

  8. ratfox Silver badge
    Go

    Imagine someone from 10 years ago reading that title

    Things sure change fast

  9. jMcPhee

    All well and good until a power supply problem hits or there's a new ransomware making the rounds

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You mean on-prem or cloud? I know for a fact that my on-prem power supply is flaky - we've had power cuts multiple times, most recently when one (now ex) employee literally pressed the big red button because he wanted the day off.

      If I'd been in the cloud at that time, all my users could have taken their laptops to McDonalds and worked happily with access to email, files and phones, rather than sit around a dark office, running down their batteries playing Solitaire...

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >If I'd been in the cloud at that time, all my users could have taken their laptops to McDonalds and worked happily with access to email, files and phones

        You're not alone, even large enterprises miss the obvious out of their business continuity plans...

        McDonald's, Starbucks etc. don't provide printers, which can present problems if that nice proposal, report, invoice, timesheet etc. has to be delivered on paper...

        It's not an insurmountable problem, just one that tends to get overlooked until it becomes critical.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "McDonald's, Starbucks etc. don't provide printers, which can present problems if that nice proposal, report, invoice, timesheet etc. has to be delivered on paper..."

          I think he was making a joke. Meaning that his enterprise, despite substantial amounts spent on on prem infrastructure, DR planning, etc, would have been better off putting their systems in the cloud and then telling the users to work from wherever if the power is out. McDonald's + cloud being more resilient than the flashy enterprise data center.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "power supply problem hits"

      I don't get your point. The BA power supply problem was the result of an on prem screw up because the third party techs didn't know what they were doing. Google has never been down for the day as a result of a power supply problem... or any other reason. That is all the more reason to go to the cloud. The cloud infrastructure is infinitely more advanced than what most companies, all traditional companies, are doing on prem.

  10. daldred

    The reliability issue

    I've been using Google Docs for ages; Office 365 is far more recent.

    The experience of using Google solutions for years, though, does bring up one reason why I'd not use Google Drive as my main business solution. It's Google's nasty habit of providing something really useful, then removing it.

    Remember custom styling in Google Docs? Spend many hours setting up your standard document look and feel as you want ti; then they pull the functionality, and replace it with.... nothing.

    Used Picassa for a while, and built up your lists of people in pictures, all carefully tagged? Switch to Google Photos, and its AI kindly decides that that pair of twins is all one person. And there is still no way of manually tagging people in Photos.

    Uploaded building plans to Maps, so that your user can find individual rooms? Never mind - just a few months later, Google decides you didn't really want that information visible after all.

    Now mucking about like that may be OK for a free service aimed at the personal market - you just upset individuals. But for businesses it may be a very costly dealbreaker.

    Microsoft is at least considerably less cavalier with the requirements of its users.

    1. Def Silver badge

      Re: The reliability issue

      Surely that's just Google realising they can't monetise those features sufficiently to warrant maintaining them.

      Or you're not moving fast enough to keep up with the cutting edge trends of life in the web-lane.

      Or something.

      But yeah, not having a local install of software you rely on will always leave you open to shit like this. I've pondered providing some of my applications as an online service. But each and every time I end up realising it's a bullshit endeavour that I want no part of.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The reliability issue

        "But yeah, not having a local install of software you rely on will always leave you open to shit like this."

        It's a trade off. Yes, you are to some extent riding along (although that's true on prem to some extent too) and have to be on what is supposed to be the latest and greatest... not everyone is going to like every update. The other side is the on prem model where there is more continuity but it takes many years for businesses to get on the latest and greatest... and three months later they are behind again. I prefer the SaaS model myself. For the most part, the updates are a good thing.

    2. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: The reliability issue

      This is what bugs me about software that tries to trim the fat. If only 1% of the userbase uses a feature, then it makes business sense to trim it to avoid it going rancid.

      Unfortunately it turns all humans are in one 1% or another. The Average Human does not, and never has existed. Planting your shopfront perfectly equidistant within your desired worldwide userbase places it in hell.

      You can either try and rise above this problem, accommodating a squillion barely used features, or dive under the problem and make your suite out of a set of bricks with defined interfaces users can add to without contaminating things.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The reliability issue

      "It's Google's nasty habit of providing something really useful, then removing it."

      They have changed their attitude recently. Google had a consumer mindset, constantly changing things... with the purpose of improving them, not everyone is always going to agree. Since they started the enterprise Cloud group, they have locked down roadmaps and advanced warning, years, if anything is going to be deprecated. I like it. They still move way faster than any legacy enterprise company. Meaning if a legit product request is made and they are hearing it elsewhere, it will be in the product in a matter of weeks. Now they are bringing some of that continuity and slideware that enterprises like.... It never bothered me in any case. I think most enterprises could do with a bit more agility and comfort with change. Most would rather have continuity... as an agile and constantly changing Amazon eats their lunch.

  11. WibbleMe

    Lets talk about downtime and costs

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      >Lets talk about downtime and costs

      Well let's not get ahead of ourselves...

      Firstly we still have "the desktop", for many SME's that is still going to be full fat Windows - will all the issues of having a full fat OS on the desktop/laptop. why Windows? because that is what you get at PC World etc.

      Secondly, cloud needs comm's which brings us to the whole broadband v "using something possibly more appropriate given your business depends on it" debate.

      1. Triggerfish

        What about if your home built server goes TITSUP? Surely that's downtime as well?

        We still have a DC sitting in the office. If we can't collaborate because something like the sharepoint services went to pot, we'd just do it the old way we did before.

        Our work can be done and stored on our NAS if it comes to it, email down would be a problem but so far (fingers crossed) we have not had issues, occasionally we have comms problems with the ISP in the US but that's it.

        Apart from the exchange services we mainly use 365 for collaboration on things or just for the exchange, and because we have people on the road sometimes it's more useful to have docs and stuff needed on sharepoint rather than someone having to VPN in from somewhere especially if they are abroad to access the file, especially as with our work you can end up wanting to browse through photos and CAD files.

        1. Triggerfish

          Actually that should have said all of our work is stored on the NAS, we basically upload stuff we want to collaborate on/ access easier.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          People use the cloud (i.e. internet services) for all manner of collaboration and file sharing and transactions every day in their personal lives.... For some reason people think that work email is a different animal (from a connectivity perspective) than personal email. It's not. Likewise with IM and file sharing. Doesn't Google Drive or Dropbox work for you?... I can't figure out if everyone just doesn't want to change anything so they are coming up with weak excuses or everyone has never used the internet before.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "Secondly, cloud needs comm's which brings us to the whole broadband v "using something possibly more appropriate given your business depends on it" debate."

        I just had this debate. People thinking that Google G Suite (or any cloud suite) requires some crazy MPLS connection. It doesn't. Google's network is the best in the world. Also, every user or nearly so is probably checking their personal Gmail account at work all the time... seems to work without a direct line to Google. A thousand users at your office are probably on facebook every day despite not direct broadband link. It's like people haven't used the internet before.

  12. garrybrady

    Google Docs great until you need to communicate with other businesses

    I started my own business a few years back and used Google Docs for Business. It was great and did all the things a small business needs without the huge (and unused) feature sets in Office. Over time we started to work more with other businesses who all used Office of varying vintage. Interop of files is possible between Google Docs + Office but you end up with multiple copies and a layer of unnecessary distraction.

    So I moved us to Office 365 Business Essentials which seemed like MS equivalent to Google Docs and was only slightly more expensive.

    Over time I've come across so many features missing from Office 365 online that's it's unusable in the real world... e.g. can't open older Office file formats, no table of contents or track changes in Word online.

    So, reluctantly, I've moved us again to the 'full' office with 'proper' versions of Word/Excel just to end up with the same feature set (that we need as a small business). Everything now works but I am now paying nearly £10/user/month extra than Google Docs as the MS Office monopoly is still very much alive if you need to communicate with other businesses or some of your staff are used to Office.

  13. kmac499

    Cloud software

    Cloud a lovely marketing term, White soft fluffy things scudding across a blue sky on a summers day, or maybe a bloody great black thunderhead about to dump a foot of water and a tornado on you.

    As many others have posted Cloud software has a nasty habit of removing features that you have found really useful. Occasionally a cloud can evaporate either in the DC or because of a network fault at the users end.

    Any solution that doesn't allow me to hold a readable copy of my data in a place of my choosing is a risk.

  14. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Identity & Access Management

    "Microsoft paved the way with Active Directory in the on-prem world..."

    I'm sure Novell would disagree...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually...

    "If you were to start a business today, would you bother buying desktop software for productivity and collaboration? Probably not, you'd employ some software option delivered as a service.".

    Actually it heavily depends, but SaaS isn't exactly the holy grail you know.

    Lets get one thing out of the way: I'm biased in favor of Microsoft Office when it comes to the desktop applications. I think it's really hard to beat that functionality, especially if you familiarize yourself with the VBA backend, then the sky can really become the limit.

    Looking at online services though shows a huge difference. Google has a major advantage there, the userfriendliness which Google's online services have to offer is pretty much unrivaled. Look... If you see Google docs appear in areas where you can be assured that not most people aren't very tech-savy then that should be a clear signal that Google is definitely doing "something" right.

    But back to that top sentence I quoted: generally speaking it's much more appealing for a company to buy into desktop applications instead of SaaS. First the obvious: SaaS may appear to be cheaper, but in the longer run it's not. If I wanted to get a business subscription I'd have to pay roughly E 10,-/month. A business version would cost me around E 230,- / month.

    The thing is: there's more at stake than just 2 years worth of use. By buying the software you're also adding to your companies value (assets) which can influence the taxes you have to pay (depending on your country). Another important detail is availability. Offline means that you'll be able to work wherever you want, online means that you'll be depending on an Internet connection. Although a basic connection could do, if you end up with multiple employee's working online then you may also run into bandwidth issues. As such more costs involved.

    Next: insurance. When working online you also have to cope with your data being stored outside your reach and basically outside your control. Normally you'd have that roughly covered with the global insurance policies for your company, but since it's in the cloud there will be more at stake here. Also more risks. Sounds crazy? Well, if everything is stored in the cloud then you'd better make darn sure that sales (for example) can't access files from HR, and vice versa. Risk assessment. Do I hear more work, as such also more involved costs?

    Do note that I'm not trying to claim that online = bad, it doesn't have to be. Heck: in the higher 365 tiers you're even provided with offline tools. But claiming that online is per definition more appealing than the "old and traditional" offline approach is simply being narrow minded. There's much more at stake than that.

  16. Flakk Silver badge

    Quick Question Regarding Malware Attacking Installed Office

    Sorry if this was covered earlier and I didn't see it.

    I've used installed Office my entire career. I tried the O365 web versions of the Office apps. They were okay, but it didn't take me long to find puzzling limitations and omissions.

    Anyway, does anyone have any info on whether or not use of the O365 web apps makes a user less vulnerable to the recent spate of malware that has taken advantage of vulnerabilities in installed Office? It seems like the O365 user would be less vulnerable, but I wouldn't bet much on that.

  17. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Simples really

    One you pay for on a monthly tithe basis. Fail to pay and you are suddenly 'sans data'.

    The other one is free (or almost) in cash terms.

    Both will either directly or on the sly slurp your data and sell it on.

    Personally?

    A plague on both their houses.

    LibreOffice and Thunderbird do me nicely thanks.

  18. Maventi
    Meh

    I've done a fair bit of work with O365 and Google Docs, assisting schools and small business. To be frank, anyone who says that one is substantially better than the other is simply biased and shouldn't be taken seriously. They both have some real advantages and drawbacks and what is best comes own to nothing but your own organisation and use cases.

    O365 - good web functionality, ability to use full Office if needed (the web version has bizarre limitations), great compatibility with legacy Office formats. It's also a lot more open with regards to educational organisations - it's much easier to get a free O365 subscription over Google Docs if you are a legitimate educational organisation or charity but not an actual school. On the downside, it's generally more expensive, it's much more complex to manage than Google Docs (don't get me started on the insane license management process), less reliable than Google Docs in a browser and while there are a huge number of apps in the ecosystem, they just don't feel as coherent and integrated as Google's offerings. There's also an obvious preference towards supporting Windows on the endpoint that's hard to get away from. Understandable for MS, but the world has moved on from the early 2000s.

    O365 summary: Great for those who absolutely need perfect Office compatibility/familiarity and probably more scalable to the high end if you are massive. Also recommended to those charities who need free tools and have fallen through the (large) cracks in Google's acceptance check process.

    Google Docs - cheaper, simpler, more reliable. On the downside, things like Sheets are less powerful than Excel and you don't get local apps provided. The simplicity and way lower TCO speaks volumes though - managing a fleet of Chromebooks is miles cheaper and easier than a fleet of Windows devices with O365 - and that's not just my own observation but also my customers words from those who have experienced both.

    Google summary: If you are a startup or school, I'd recommend Google Docs.

    Ultimately though, both scare me (along with AWS) as they all result in the world's data becoming hostage to a handful of American megacorps that have all demonstrated hostility to end users and customers.

  19. John Crisp

    Data not Apps

    FWIW our decision on what to use was dictated by who we wanted to be able to read all our emails, documents, and clients data etc.

    So that crossed Microsoft and Google off the list immediately.

    Mine's the email that says:

    "docx, xlsx, pptpx not accepted here. Please save in an open standard file format"

    :-)

  20. Kev99 Bronze badge

    Why would anyone in his/her right mind want to use anything that opened all their data to the whole universe? Ever hear of security? Maintaining confidentiality? Maybe if you want to use Google Forms to create an innocuous survey, sure. But beyond that?

  21. JerseyDaveC

    Office Online needs beefing up

    If you've used the online version of Office you'll know that the feature set is majorly limited. You can't do PivotTables or even some of the more basic formatting, and linked documents are a pain in the butt.

    If Microsoft want to attract people away from Google Office (do they need to?) they need to make the online version of Office more feature-rich.

    Which is ironic given that in the desktop version many of us moan that there are bazillions of features we never use!

  22. thondwe

    Outsourcing

    These are all really Pay as you go Outsourcing solutions. Which frankly works for any business not in the business of I.T. and a lot who are. It's now the same as Utilities like electricity, water, etc. You don't run your own unless you really have to, it's just too much hard work, and much harder/more expensive to get the same level of service.

    Yes one guy can do I.T. for a small office, but how much is that costing - £30k/yr - with no cover for holidays and sick leave... How many users of Office 365 is that? Even it is an I.T. business it's a cost - staff are better of milking money from customers...

  23. Potemkine Silver badge

    MS culture towards users is toxic

    Ergonomics of MS products stinks and gets stinkier with time. The strength of Google Apps is the ease of use, providing powerful tools easy to use in a natural way. Downside with Google Apps has been already mentioned: functionalities can radically change breaking what you have made.

    Another good point for Google Apps (yeah, G Suite if you want) : support is very good, fast and efficient, and it costs much less than MS offers.

  24. W. Anderson

    Why LibreOffice - product and Cloud services not included?

    Why, in God's name, has not the article authors included for discussion the LibreOffice professional Office Suite now available as a Cloud service, much like Office365 and Google Docs.

    Moreover, most of European countries, and nations in Asia, South America, as well as large entities in USA have standardized "officially" on the Open Document format based LibreOffice.

    Technology reporting has become so crass and shallow, catering only to largest named and sales commercial products and companies that quality, comprehensive journalism is now almost extinct.

  25. Gis Bun

    I'd take anything Microsoft over Google's electronic reading/trolling.

  26. caffeine addict Silver badge

    If Outlook 365 is anything to go by...

    The only bit of 365 I've had the misfortune to use is Outlook 365. Considering just how old and ubiquitous webmail is, I don't understand how Outlook 365 has buggered it up so badly.

    It's slow. It's clunky. It gives you no idea if it's doing something very slowly or hasn't noticed you clicked on something. It pretty much doesn't work at all on mobile. How is all that even possible nowadays?

  27. IGnatius T Foobar

    Betteridge's Law

    I hereby officially invoke Betteridge's Law of Headlines.

  28. Mage Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Software as a service?

    "you'd employ some software option delivered as a service. "

    Only if you like paying extra (for ever! Even to access archives 10 years later when you don't use that package), having less security, less privacy and less reliability.

    Upgrades? I've heard of them.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    google what?

    If I'd start a business today I would do no such thing as insulting empoyees forcing them to use that charade called Google Docs. If no better option I'd choose LibreOffice vs Google Docs by all means. For a productivity software to offer a CUT menu that informs you to press CTRL+C instead of actually doing CUT... is there something lower than this?

  30. johnnyblaze

    MS will be looking to hoover up their enterprise customers who are looking to renew SA deals, and push them to the cloud instead. SA is eye-wateringly expensive, and MS have only got to show that O365 is slightly cheaper, and they'll pull them in, and once your in, your in as the saying goes. It generally leads to further cloud service use and then lock-in. O365 in the past was really unstable though. Not sure what it's like now.

    Google on the other hand appeals to everyone else. Docs has always been cloud based since the very start, so people are very used to it. Infact, Docs (looking more like a traditional non-ribbon suite - which is a good thing), will do 100% of what 98% of users need, so what's not to like?

  31. nilfs2
    Holmes

    CAPEX vs OPEX

    You can use OPEX to lower your company taxes, it is a tax shield, CAPEX on the other hand is not.

  32. fredesmite
    Mushroom

    Is this a promotion for WinTurd Office ?

    WTF

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