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Microsoft Office Vs Apple iWork Vs Google Drive

iwork iOS

iwork iOS

Today I wanted to post a few quick thoughts about Office, iWork and Google Drive. I use them all (for different things) and I believe it gives me (and you) a valuable snapshot as to what strengths each service currently plays to. In the old days, Microsoft was the only real show in town when it came to word processing, spreadsheets and presentation tools with Word, Excel and PowerPoint–until Google came along and mucked everything up (for the better, in my opinion) with the introduction of Google Docs. Docs offered a free alternative to Microsoft Office that was pretty barebones when it launched but has since morphed into Google Drive. Drive is a product that combines the tools that used to be Docs with storage options meant to compete with Dropbox. Apple’s iWork was basically a suite of tools for staunch Mac enthusiasts until the recent iPad and iPhone boom which thrust their Office competitors (Pages, Numbers and Keynote) into the limelight. So much for a brief history of boring work programs. Now for my thoughts.

As I mentioned, I use each of these 3 options a little bit and in different ways. Until very recently, I had Microsoft Office installed on my Mac just to make it a bit easier to open mostly Word and Excel documents that came across my desk from the older generations of workers around the office. I say until recently because when I got my latest computer, I skipped the install (even though our office has a volume license).

I am a BIG Google Drive user for one reason–word processing. When I do some typing (non-blog typing that is) I always always always use Google Drive these days. It’s simply too convenient. As an IT Director, I can appreciate the bare bones interface: people are always asking me how to do things in Word but nobody ever has to ask me how to use Google Drive products. Additionally, it’s a killer feature to be able to share the documents with other people and even have them edit them simultaneously. Killer. I use that all the time, even for content related to DailyTekk (sharing between the team).

I, like many iPad owners, have installed the iWork suite of apps including Pages, Numbers and Keynote. I basically never use Pages, although I wanted to like it and got a keyboard for my iPad just to type with it. It’s just too clunky and I have to say I don’t like the skeumorphic design feel. What I do use more often is Keynote (both on iPad and on my MacBook Air). When I have to do a presentation, there is no comparison: Keynote kicks both PowerPoint and Drive’s Presentation to the curb. Why? It is compatible with AirPlay, it has much cooler effects and it is easier/sleeker to use. Every now and then, for special applications, I will use Numbers on my iPad for the form function and the form function alone. For instance, if I have to go around the office to collect info from people, the form function is a much nicer (and quicker/easier) way of inputting a lot of data without clicking into each cell.

I admit that I haven’t had much experience with Office’s online offering–I’ve just had no need. I have a Google account so I use Google Drive. I was checking out the site, however, and found this hilarious photo which I took a screenshot of from the new Office promo video. As if some dad is showing his little kid Microsoft Word and laughing at how awesome it is!

A screenshot from a Microsoft Office promo video--uh, no.

A screenshot from a Microsoft Office promo video–uh, no.

When it comes to cloud/syncing capabilities, you can’t be Google Drive. iCloud is a great idea, but it still is a bit flawed and it pains me to say that because I am an Apple guy. Anyone who has ever had to go to iCloud.com and click upload to sync a Keynote presentation knows what I mean. It should just work, as does Google Drive. If you create something in Drive it is there no matter where/how you access it. If I create a Keynote presentation on my computer, I have to manually tell it to sync via iCloud.com to get it on my iPad. Possible, yes, painful, yes.

So that is how I use each of those products at the moment. I’m sure that will change in the very near future as Microsoft, Apple and Google continue to innovate and disrupt each other’s business plans. But for now, at the start of 2013, here is where I see the strengths of each office suite competitor:

  • Wordprocessing: Google Drive
  • Spreasheets: Google Drive
  • Presentations: Keynote

Of course different situations will warrant different programs–as I mentioned, most of the older users around the office are used to Microsoft Office being installed on their computers locally and therefore prefer to get spreadsheets in Excel format (often times I will just download a Google spreadsheet in Excel format in those cases).

What do you think? How and when do you use these programs and what is your current favorite/go-to?




9 comments

  1. Thanks so much for this real-world practical review! I was trying to decide whether to get iWork or Office for the new Mac I’m going to purchase, and then I remembered about Google Drive (I use their spreadsheet function regularly). I’ve never tried Google’s word processor, but now I will definitely give it a spin. Don’t have much need currently for a presentation package, but in any case, I think you’ve saved me some cash!

  2. Thanks for the info! Clearly, Google is doing much better in this app fight. I’ve been using Office, Iwork and G Docs. I’m so done with Apple’s isolated business model with so many not compatible MacOS upgrades and app compatibilities. And Microsoft charging $200 for Office apps (business usages) and not as user friendly apps. So, if you have a bucket load of cash to put in, Apple might be the way to go. If you’re like me, watching budget and paying for reasonable stuff, stick with G Docs because they are improving amazingly fast. I’m using G Docs more and more.

  3. We have recently been converted to Drive and find it simple and easy to use. I want to move the rest of the team to oogle drive and can our SBS exchange server. This is driven by two things its simple and it costs less! I have taken a brief look at office 365 but we wouldnt be saving any money and the future cloud so thats where we are going.

  4. Thank you for such a great article! I have installed all: MS Office and iWork, and I’m still an active GoogleDrive user.

    Really, word processing is much better in Google Drive, since it’s quick, accessible and not too complicated. Presentation tool is better in iWork, since Keynote provides best effects, transitions, themes; and, the most important, it differs from the PowerPoint, which is overused! However, there is worth alternative to Keynote – Prezi.com. Really cool and simple presentation tool. But I little disagree with you about the spreadsheet processor. I find Excel, Numbers and Google solution pretty equal. However, MS Excel stands little backward. Google spreadsheets is the best solution to compose simple table and quick calculations, but if it comes to create big document with many tables, diagrams, dependences and other objects, the Numbers plays it’s role.

    Anyway, your review is much helpful. Thank you!

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