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Differences Between Google Docs and Microsoft Word

Jan 16, 2020 | Google Workspace

For the longest time, Microsoft was the #1 word processing software. Now with Google Docs in the picture, they have become top competitors. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages over each other. We’ve written a list some of these differences:



As a computer application, Microsoft Word holds very strong for its functions. For example, Microsoft Word has more access to table formatting, fonts, templates, and PDF editing. Yet, Google Docs offers a variety of similar functions that can be added through add ons. If you’re not happy with the default templates provided, you can search the G Suite Marketplace. In particular, the Marketplace offers these extra templates:

As far as functionality goes, if you only need simple features, a free Google account is more than enough. Even if you are missing a feature in Google Docs that you would normally have in Word, G Suite Marketplace is great to find something similar.


A Google Account has Microsoft beat for collaboration. Within the same Google Doc, a total of up to 100 users that you shared the document with can make edits! Doing so is in real-time. Unlike Microsoft Word, where you have to send the document to one person at a time. Google Docs makes it super easy to collaborate with your team members. At AB Web, we are a huge fan of this feature and use it daily.

Real-time collaboration with Google Docs


As long as you know your Google account credentials, you can log in into any device (phone, tablet, computer, etc.) connected to the internet and access your Google Doc. If you are using Microsoft Word, you would have to save your document either on a device or on some other storage. The difference between Microsft Word and Google Doc is that once a Word document is saved, you have to open it up in the application itself to make edits. In Google Docs, you never have to save. You can access it anywhere, anytime, and on any device to make changes or to view it.

In terms of offline access, you don’t have to be connected to the internet to create or edit a Word document. A free Google account now offers offline access as well. Before, you had to have a G Suite Business account to do so.


As mentioned before, Microsoft word has access to a lot more functionalities than Google Docs. When looking at the interface in Word, you can see all the functionalities in tabs. For new users, this can be confusing to navigate. Google Docs interface is very easy to go through and keeps it all in one “tab”. Depending on what you’re looking in a word processor, you may go with Word for its advanced functions. For new users, Google Docs is a great start.

Google Doc Interface


Microsoft Word Interface


Google Docs offers the option to download your Doc as a Microsoft Word document. Along with a few other files type such as ODT, PDF, RTF, HTML, TXT, and EPUB. The difference is Microsoft Word doesn’t offer the same compatibility as Google Docs.


A free Google account gives you access to Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. With a free Microsoft account, you have access to online versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. These online versions from Microsoft have very limited functions and capabilities when compared to their desktop applications. Not to mention, the online versions tend to be glitchy and not as reliable when compared to Google Docs. If you want the full desktop applications, there is a fee of $6.99/month or $69.99/year. Keep in mind this is for 1 computer only. They also offer their Home version which is $9.99/month or $99.99/year for up to 5 computers. A personal Google account is completely free and comes with the full versions of Docs, Sheets, and Slides. No installation is needed and no manual updates are required. Installation of the Microsoft Office programs can take up to an hour.


Key Differences:

  • A free Google account offers access to the full version of its programs, unlike Microsoft Word where a subscription is required (for full versions).
  • Microsoft Word offers some functionality that Google Docs doesn’t have.
  • Real-time collaboration is only offered in Google Docs.
  • You can save a Google Doc as a Microsoft Word document.
  • Google Docs has a simple, user-friendly interface. Great for new users.

Google Docs and Microsoft Word are both very powerful applications. It all depends on what you’re looking for yourself or your business. Going forward, a lot of businesses are going to be cloud-based. Meaning accessing your business documents, spreadsheets, and presentations no matter where you are in the world, is easier when it’s online.

If you have any questions about Google Docs or Microsoft Word, you can ask us! We offer both Office 365 and G Suite for businesses.

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