August 30, 2011, 10:39 AM — Google Apps is firmly established as the primary competitor to Microsoft Office--both the desktop software and the Office 365 online productivity suite. Without question, Google Apps offers a very capable collection of tools, but unless your world revolves around Google, it might not be the right productivity suite for you.
In comparison with the competition, Google Apps' plain menu bars and features seem austere. Users who prefer the old-school text-based menu bar may appreciate the interface, but Google Apps is more limited than rivals in formatting and in functionality. For instance, Google Apps has fewer font choices than Office 365 does, and Microsoft's online fonts better align to their desktop counterparts.
Google's spreadsheet app is the most lacking. As with other Web-based suites, the spreadsheet is sufficient for basic needs, but it omits many of the more advanced features that spreadsheet gurus--particularly those used to the features and functionality of Microsoft Excel--require.
Since most businesses rely on Microsoft Office as their primary desktop productivity suite, the value of a rival platform such as Google Apps hinges on how compatible it is with Microsoft Office formatting conventions and file types.
In document fidelity--maintaining formatting consistency from a Microsoft Office program to a cloud-based equivalent and back again (or vice versa)--no current online productivity platform is perfect.
Google has gone to great lengths to improve fidelity with Microsoft Office, but it hasn't gone far enough. Google Apps can capably open and work with Microsoft Office file formats, but many features-- such as tables of contents, footnotes, or inserted images--end up being reformatted in Google terms, and remain that way when you revert to the native Microsoft Office software.
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