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Google Docs Gets a Lot Better, but It Still Isn't Good Enough

Many times we've said in this space that Google Apps has great potential to do some damage to Microsoft Office. They key word there, though, has always been "potential."

In our experience at RCPU (and we use Google Apps every day), the package is fine for quick-and-dirty work but not anywhere near robust (there's a ‘90s word we don't hear too often anymore) enough to handle serious, day-to-day chores. This week, though, that might have changed -- or, at least, started to change.

Well, that's the case on the word-processor front, anyway, as Google gave Apps a major boost that included pretty much a complete overhaul of the Google Docs component. Google Docs is the Apps offering we know best, and it's honestly pretty frustrating to use. Oh, sure, it's incredibly handy and light, but it lacks so many very basic features compared to Microsoft Word -- or those basic features are so hard to find and use—that we wouldn't think about composing even this newsletter in Docs, much less something like a full feature story.

This week's move gives Docs little touches such as a margin ruler and improved functionality with bulleted lists. That stuff will help, but Docs will still have a long way to go to catch Office. Office, of course -- and particularly Office 2007, with its baffling ribbon -- has way too much functionality. And although we'll admit to not having tried Microsoft's Office Web Apps extensively, we haven't seen any hosted suite that could beat the speed of Google Docs.

The bottom line is that as a power user of word processors, your editor just isn't ready to move off of the desktop for his typing pleasure quite yet --
not in a permanent way, anyway. But we can see Google Docs moving in the right direction. Google is moving Apps from having potential to beginning to fulfill potential. And that won't be good news for Microsoft and its partners in the long run.

Do you use Google Apps or Office Web Apps? What do you think of them? Which do you prefer? Send your thoughts to [email protected].

Posted by Lee Pender on April 14, 2010


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