Day 30: What I Learned from Spending 30 Days With…Google Docs
By Tony Bradley
30 Days With…Google Docs: Day 30
Well, I made it. After a decade of daily reliance on Microsoft Office, I managed to survive an entire month using Google Docs. So, what has the 30 Days With…Google Docs project taught me, and what do I do now that the project is over?
I have to admit that the experience has given me much greater respect for Google Docs. As I pointed out in the Day 29 post, there are a number of things that I found to be unique benefits of Google Docs that Microsoft engineers should be looking to emulate in Microsoft Office.
On the other hand, there were also a number of things I really didn’t like about Google Docs. One thing that didn’t even make the list–because it is a proprietary issue that is probably not the fault of Google Docs–is that I repeatedly ran into formatting issues copying and pasting text from a Google Docs document into the PCWorld content publishing tool. Annoying things would happen, like taking a multi-word URL link in an article, and instead linking each individual word. Suddenly, five links in an article would turn in to 30 links, and I would have to go back through and manually clean those up.
As I said, though, for all I know that is a problem on our end, and not an issue with Google Docs per se. All in all, I would say that Google Docs is a solid productivity platform, and it delivers most of what you need at a price that can’t be beat, but that switching from Microsoft Office to Google Docs is a bit of a culture shock that would take me more than a month to really get used to. For businesses or individuals, though, that are starting from scratch, Google Docs can fill the need, and for businesses or individuals that don’t want to invest the money in Microsoft Office, Google Docs is an adequate substitute.
The thing is, though, it is a substitute. The value of Google Docs is measured in how well it integrates with a Microsoft Office world. It is a symbiotic relationship where Google Docs almost can’t be measured in and of itself, but has to be measured as a function of how smoothly it works with Microsoft Office.
I suppose the question readers are asking–whether they prefer Microsoft Office or Google Docs–is “which is better?” I think that the question itself is misguided. Each has pros and cons, but it is not really an apples to apples comparison. To be fair, you should at least compare Google Docs with Microsoft Office Web Apps. And, truly, that is a more fair comparison for Microsoft Office as well because it puts Google and Microsoft on equal footing in terms of price, and on delivering a Web-based productivity solution. Perhaps another month.
For me, I have to be honest–I will be very happy to return to Microsoft Office tomorrow. No offense intended for Google Docs, but there are just too many little things–little things that I rely on hour to hour to help me work more efficiently and effectively–that I have missed this month. While Google Docs has performed adequately, it has also often felt like swimming upstream.
Since May has 31 days, I get a little break. The next 30 Days With… project will start on June 1. Check back on Wednesday to find out what the focus will be next month and join me on the journey.
For a complete list of the 30 Days With…Google Docs posts, click here.