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Microsoft Office Archives - Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes

Google’s Office Compatibility Mode: Pros and Cons

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Users can edit Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides using Google’s Office Compatibility Mode. This is a great feature that may save you the hassle of converting between Microsoft formats and the equivalent Google program — for instance, it may no longer be necessary to convert a Microsoft Word .docx file to Google Docs, make edits, and then convert the Google Docs file back to .docx.

Office Compatibility Mode comes built into Chromebooks and the mobile apps for Android and iOS, and can be activated on the Chrome browser on PCs and Macs (go to Window > Extensions, search for Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides and install).

However, there are some limitations:

  • Office Compatibility Mode will not work with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, or other browsers.
  • Files with the .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .ppt, and .pptx extensions can be edited if they were created in Microsoft Office 2007 or newer versions of Microsoft Office. Older files (created in Microsoft Office 2003 and earlier) are not supported unless they are resaved with a more recent version of Microsoft Office.
  • It may not be possible to edit large documents, especially large Excel spreadsheets.

Converting Microsoft formats for collaboration

Collaborative editing (described in Chapter 6 of Google Drive & Docs In 30 Minutes) is not possible when Microsoft Office files are opened for editing. However, it is possible to convert Office files to the equivalent Google formats for collaborative editing (see screenshot, below). Conversion can take place automatically during the upload process. Alternately, you can select the uploaded file in Drive and use one of the following methods to convert it:

  • Right-click over the selected file and choose Open with.
  • Click the More Actions icon (which looks like three vertical dots) at the top of the screen and select the option to open it in Google Docs/Sheets/Slides.
  • Preview the file, then select the Open with option

Google Drive Office Compatibility mode vs. collaborative editing

Microsoft Office vs Google Drive: An honest overview

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A reader recently emailed to ask me about Microsoft Office vs Google Drive. He noted that Microsoft has invested millions of dollars refining its Office Suite over many decades, and the suite has now evolved to Office 2013 and the subscription-based Office 365. He added that Microsoft Word, although not perfect, is full of extremely useful functionality. Moreover, Microsoft Office has Access (a pretty powerful database tool), for which Google doesn’t even offer a corresponding product.

Microsoft Office vs Google Drive honest reviewAs I read his email, I found myself nodding in agreement. Microsoft Office is a powerful suite. Although I have written an in-depth guide to Google Drive & Google Docs, I am by no means a Google zealot. The Drive suite competes poorly against its Microsoft counterparts in several key aspects. However, it also has some functionality that Office does not have. Here’s my response to the reader asking about Google Drive vs. Microsoft Office:

If Access is a must-have application in your business suite, I would say that you should stick with Office. Likewise, if you need advanced formatting options in Word and PowerPoint, Office beats the Google Drive suite, hands-down.

The formatting options in Drive are very basic, suitable for basic business letters, reports, and spreadsheets, but for professional looking business-grade documentation or presentations Office is superior. Tracking changes in Word is also superior to Google Docs’ rudimentary functionality.

As I explained in my guide, where Google Drive excels is in its collaboration features and online integration. The real-time collaboration and permissions are very powerful, and the ability to publish documents to the Web for external review or other purposes is unmatched. Google Sheets also has neat features that let you publish online forms to the Web to gather data (for instance, a simple survey or customer contact form) and the data is automatically flowed into a spreadsheet or emailed to the account owner. Sheets can also publish a spreadsheet to the Web so audiences can slice and dice the data or even add their own data (if permission is granted). I describe how to use all of these features in my guide.

In the end, I have to acknowledge that the Microsoft Office suite is a superior tool in many respects to Google Drive. However, the powerful online features of Google Drive, not to mention it’s browser-based functionality are attractive to millions of users across the globe. In addition, it’s possible to work with both suites (I use Office and Google Drive for my business) and there are many conversion tools in Drive, which make it possible to convert a PDF to Google Drive or Microsoft Word, or convert a Google Sheets spreadsheet to Microsoft Excel.

Finally, Google Drive offers a powerful reason for newbies to at least try it out: It’s free for the basic storage plan offered by Google. Microsoft is experimenting with low-cost or free programs with Office Online, but for the full-featured Office suite, you’ll have to pay.