Commentary: The Paradigm of Microsoft Office vs. Google Docs

As I am a little late into working on my graduate degree, a fair number of my courses have younger students in them. One can never escape group projects, even on a fully online degree. With that said, discussion comes up on how to collaborate. Being almost 30 years old, I grew up in the era where Microsoft was dominant. In a finance course where classmates are roughly 24-26, they grew up in the era where Google was dominant in most software and services, and continues to be today.

Growing up on Office, I consider myself somewhat an expert on its capabilities with formatting, tables, creating reports, importing Excel sheets and the like. To me, Google Docs feels like the Fisher-Price stepchild of Office. For complex situations such as grad school documents, reports, and appendices, Office has always worked, and worked well. Google Docs lacks many of the salient features that make it usable for such a case. However, my younger cohorts seem to blast away at it, however, lacking important formatting issues that Docs simply cannot manage.

Features such as hotkeys and second line indents, table of contents and research inclusion are quite difficult and not very intuitive on such a platform. Office does have everything Docs has and more, including the sharing feature and real-time coauthoring. This slight paradigm shift from Microsoft to Google domination of the market happened quickly, and does not make anyone think twice about what the right tool for the right job is.

I sure hope my teammates know what they’re doing in terms of proper formatting in Docs, because I don’t. At the end of the day, this is also why there are certifications for Office, but none for Google’s platform exist. Granted Docs is easiest for simple note taking, but again, OneNote solves all of those problems for me, and some. Even if the world continues to shift to Google Docs and its increased usage, I’ll be a loyal Office user for years to come.

This piece was originally published in the forums of Thurrott.com.

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