Google Docs vs Microsoft Word

April 17, 2019 | Posted by: Meghan Donovan

Difference Between Google Docs and Microsoft Word

What is the Difference Between Google Docs and Microsoft Word?

The text creation software market is saturated with a mix of popular brand names and independent companies providing paid and free licenses. However, there are two competitors that are fighting tooth and nail to be named the best word processing software, and it is a battle of Google Docs vs Microsoft Word.

Microsoft Word vs Google DocsMicrosoft Word has become a household name for decades building a reputation that very could even get close to competing with.

A functional text-based program that includes a wealth of useful features, excellent compatibility, MS Word has a fairly steep learning curve.

Microsoft Word is easy to use, but difficult to master, but it has been a popular (and in many cases the default) choice for personal and business devices for many years.

But there is a new kid in town, and that kid is awesome.

Google Docs vs WordGoogle Docs is an exciting word processesing option that is purely web-based (although you can enable working offline).

It is gaining popularity due to its features, ease of use, and what working in the cloud can bring to organizations.

The similarities between Google Docs and Microsoft Word will be discussed in this article, but Google Docs has really kept pace with the way we work in an increasingly digital work, tapping into a new ways of producing, sharing, and collaborating on documents.

The Shift in How We Work

In recent times, individuals and businesses the focus has shifted to a more cloud-based system where documents are now created and accessed online through a virtual drive. Documents can now be kept and shared online without the need for saving locally, attaching documents to email, etc.

The growing use of mobile devices has also changed the way text processing is done. Today's mobile phones now capable of creating word documents on-the-go, and we are relying on a more robust storage and sharing system like the cloud.

In this article, we look at the difference between Google Docs and Microsoft Word to help you decide which is best for you in today's digital world.

First Look: Google Docs vs MS Word

Microsoft Word or Google Docs

To gain access to Microsoft Word, you will need to purchase a Microsoft Suite package which is expensive.

There are several packages available depending on the level and type of use to be installed on a limited amount of devices. It can either be an annual subscription or a one-off payment depending on the package you choose. Microsoft Office 365 comes with other popular applications such as Excel and PowerPoint. Getting the complete Microsoft package only seems to be worth the price if the other programs are also used, and even then we think going with Google's suite of business apps is a much better value. You can read our full G Suite vs Office 365 comparison article to learn exactly why we feel this way. 

Google, on the other hand, is free to use. Docs is an internet browser driven app and does not need to be installed on the device. You can access docs on any browser or operating systems, unlike Microsoft Word. The free version does come with limitations but you can purchase the upgraded version of G Suite for a monthly subscription or a one-off fee. G Suite integrates other Google products such as Gmail, Sheets and its cloud storage, Drive

Interface Comparison: Docs vs Word

With all of the features Microsoft Word has in its disposal, it can be difficult to find the button you require.

For those who simply want to create basic text characters, the user interface is clean and basic, however, it can get confusing when searching for the button that performs a complex task. Even if you've used Microsoft Word for years, it's easy to get lost in all of its ribbons and toolbars. It's great to have options, but not if you can never find and utilize those advanced features.

Microsoft Word Interface

The fact that Docs has fewer features than Word (Google sticks with the most important ones and makes them awesome) is actually a good thing.

The toolbars are sleek and clear, with the relevant word processing features are clearly displayed either on the main tab or in its subsections.

Docs also keep your most commonly used features accessible, which is very handy.

Google Docs Interface

Don’t be fooled with its simple looks though, Docs has a lot to offer students, teachers, and businesses.

Does Google Docs or Microsoft Word Have Better Features?

A good way to compare Microsoft Word vs Google Docs is by digging into the features of each word processing platform. 

Google Docs vs MS Word

In Microsoft Word’s online iteration, it is a condensed version leaving out some features but ultimately leaving out the ones that really matter. To us, if you want to work in the cloud there's no comparison - Google Docs is much better.

In the full version of Microsoft Word, however, Microsoft has the advantage. There’s no doubt that Word is a far more robust word processing platform that includes the functions that we are all familiar with. The use of both online and offline editing is something Google can’t provide, but if you've ever lost a document because you forgot to save it, we'll let you decide how important working offline actually is.

The main draw for people to use Google Docs is with its no frills, cloud-based capability. You'll never lose your documents (they're saved in the cloud and are auto-saved as you write and update them).

Further, when combined with G Suite, Docs can be a powerful tool for businesses.


Collaborating in the Cloud: Similarities and Differences Between Google Docs and MS Word


Everything can be controlled at a central point and is directly saved to your organization's cloud storage, which makes file sharing streamlined and can help to make your documents and other business files more secure.

Document sharing is done real time and adding collaborators is easy with Google Docs. Any device that can connect to the internet can access Google Docs and start editing it, and Google's Mobile Apps are clean and snappy to use.

We should also point out that the option to work offline on documents if you'll be away from an internet connection for a while is available with Google Docs, but with that said, changes to your cloud-based document won't be saved to the cloud until a connection is re-established. 

Compatibility Comparison Between Word and Google Docs

Word or Google Docs can handle their own when it comes to file compatibility.

Both can open common word formats and process extensions like HTML and PDF. The most notable difference in compatibility is when saving a Google Doc file, you will need to save it as a Microsoft Word compatible file or simply convert it.

One area that Microsoft Word has one over Google Docs is the ability to edit and save PDF files. This is handy, but not a feature the majority of people use frequently.

Is Google Docs or Microsoft Word Better for You?

Word vs Docs - Which Word Processing Platform is Best

Most users will choose the software that fits what they need it to do whether it is Google Docs or Word. However its difficult to look past Google Doc’s potential especially when it is put up against the more old-school and costly Microsoft Word platform. Having used both Word and Docs extensively, to me Google has identified the needs of word processing in the digital world ... offering a basic (and free), yet customizable program.

If you work offline and use other Microsoft products and see the value in Excel and prefer to work and save your files locally, then purchasing the complete suite of Microsoft Office products can be beneficial and may be worth the money.

In the battle of Google Docs vs Word, Docs comes out on top for us, purely for its modern yet simple approach to creating documents for business and personal use. Microsoft Word has been the leading product for over 30 years, and it deserves its title as the reigning word processing champion. Google Docs has a strong claim in knocking it off its perch.

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