Microsoft's Office Web Apps is located on its SkyDrive platform, which currently comes with 25 free gigabytes of storage, plus an unlimited amount of storage for the associated Hotmail or Outlook.com email account. Each additional 100 gigabytes of storage is $50 per year.
Google Docs is located on the Google Drive platform, which currently comes with 5 free gigabytes of storage - in addition to the 10 gigabytes for the associated Gmail account and unlimited storage for Google Docs and shared documents. Each additional 100 gigabytes of storage is $60 per year.
Both SkyDrive and Google Drive come with desktop software that allows users to automatically synchronize folders.
Sharing: Advantage Google
Both Office Web Apps and Google Docs allow documents to be embedded in webpages, or shared with collaborators.
But, in general, Google offers a more streamlined and complete collaboration experience for online users, with integrated chat panes and real-time updates - every user of a document sees the changes that other users are making, as they are made. In addition, Google Docs allows any document to be emailed right from the application, in a variety of formats, including the standard Office formats, text, and PDF.
Office Web Apps promises better integration with desktop-based Office applications, but the tools are rudimentary, cumbersome, and inconsistent across the apps.
Word processing: Advantage Google
With the Word Web App - as with the other Office Web Apps - there's a preview mode, which is pretty faithful to the original documents.
And then there's the edit mode, which shows a simplified version of the document. If you are working on a Word document that uses features that the Word Web App doesn't support, those features will still be there in the document when you re-open it with the full app. The result can be very confusing, since when you're online you're editing a document that will look different when printed or downloaded.
But the single biggest missing feature of the Word Web App is autosave. This is a must-have for any Web-based app, especially if Internet connectivity is intermittent.
The word processor in Google Docs has been around the longest, has more formatting tools, and hundreds of fonts. Plus, what you see is what you get - you can save the document in multiple formats, and they'll be pretty faithful to what you've got on the screen.
Spreadsheet: Mixed bag
Like the Word Web App, the Excel Web App has the ever-present "ribbon" interface style.
Unlike the Word Web App, the Excel Web App does save changes automatically, which is great news for folks on iffy Internet connections, and for people collaborating online.