Microsoft Excel Web Apps vs Google Docs

Everybody grab the popcorn, Microsoft & Google will be engaged in one more fight other than search; Office web apps! In a direct comparison, between Google Docs & Microsoft Excel Web Apps, which one would you choose? Is Office Web Apps a better choice for sharing documents?

Microsoft Office Web Apps vs Google Docs Round 1

Today I received the email below from the Microsoft Office Web Apps, in which Microsoft is clear they are looking for a fight with Google. The subject line reads:

See how Office Web Apps Compare to Google Docs

See how Microsoft tries to trash Google Docs in the email, calling Google out no less than 6 times! .

Microsoft Excel Web Apps DM

Microsoft Excel Web Apps DM

I love excel, it's probably my number 1 tool in my toolbox for my work. I always feel lost if I need to work in a Google Doc online just to be able to share the information with others. Usually I rather work in excel, and send the document through email. So curious to see if Microsoft is able to bring the rich excel experience to the web, and to become a good competitor for Google Docs, I click on both the links, for Excel Web App and the Google Doc, to open in a new browser. Result: Big Fat FAIL for Microsoft!

Microsoft Excel Web App Fail

Microsoft Excel Web App Fail

I wonder what went wrong here, who didn't test the email, and clicked on all the links to make sure these work! QA Fail!

Ok, moving on, I click on OK, and get to the directory of public files shared as demo's. As there is one selected, I click on the link for the file, and a beautiful excel spreadsheet unfolds before my eyes. Full Excel functionality galore online, nice... .

Excel Web App Olympics demo

Excel Web App Olympics demo

Compared to the Google Doc, the Microsoft Excel Web App is a much richer experience!

Google Doc Olympics example

Google Doc Olympics example

According to the Microsoft email, Excel Web Apps will let you share functionality, which would go missing in Google Docs:

  • Images
  • Charts
  • Sparklines
  • SmartArt
  • Filters
  • Footers
  • Headers
  • Conditional Formatting
  • Watermarks

In their words:

You didn't want that chart there, did you? Because, if you share it with someone using Google Docs, it could disappear. If you don't want that to happen (and really, why would you?), use Office Web Apps* for free instead. It's the best way to help protect the integrity of your uploaded Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote documents.

I wonder if more people will start using Microsoft Excel Web Apps given these extra functionality, or if habits and network effects make people reluctant to switch. What do you think?



  1. Serbay says:

    Finally, microsoft made a good thing for online World:) I am mostly using google docs. but now with full function office web app i am thinking to use it. One bad thing is i am not using my hotmail account so much:)

    Thanks for sharing

  2. Opsoft says:

    Excel Web Apps is more compatible with Excel workbooks and they upload with less errors. However, Google Docs still provides greater functionality, although more conversion work is required. Microsoft’s comparison is therefore somewhat one sided.
    Excel Web Apps does not currently have Validation – a key feature for me. Google Docs does.
    I havent’ check Excel Web Apps’ use of array formulas yet but that is another big plus for Google Docs, although you need to convert them to Google’s functions. 
    Perhaps Excel Web Apps will develop more functionality. As it stands, it’s possibly a better solution for basic workbooks but Google works better with advanced functionality.

    1.  @Opsoft I totally agree with your opinion on the one sided comparison. The eMail I received was a DM because I was signed up for updates on Microsoft Office because I use the product everyday! Naming your main competitor 4 times in communication with your client, shows the gloved are off!

  3. AmyVernon says:

    Interesting. I have long been a fan of GDocs, but also often do work in Excel spreadsheets and send them via email, depending on how in-depth they need to be. If Microsoft’s Web Apps really are that good and can easily be shared as GDocs can be, they might give Google Apps a run for their money, so to speak.

    1.  @AmyVernon Well, I think it’s clear Microsoft is protecting the Goose with the golden eggs. Better to compete with yourself with a free product, than have your customers flee to one of your bigger competitors.
      I still simply prefer to work in Excel with all the functionality, than work in a Google Doc.
      However, the sharing of a document, and working together, is one functionality I really like in Google Docs.
      Thanks @AmyVernon for your comment!