Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word

Updated: 08/31/2020 by Computer Hope
Google Docs vs. Microsoft Word

If you're looking for a word processing program, you have many options. Two of the most popular are Google Docs and Microsoft Word. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Below is a chart to help illustrate the major advantages and disadvantages of each of these word processors.

Topic Google Docs Microsoft Word
Price Google Docs is available for free to everyone with a Google account. There is no one-time or periodic subscription fee. Microsoft Word is available as part of the Microsoft Office suite. The current version of Office is Office 365, which requires an annual subscription fee of $99.
Installation No software installation is required to use Google Docs, as it is available in the cloud. It can be accessed with an Internet browser from almost any networked device, including a desktop computer running Microsoft Windows or macOS, and most smartphones and tablets. Before Office 365, Microsoft Word and the Office suite required a software installation on a computer. With Office 365, Microsoft Word is now available in the cloud and can be accessed with any Internet browser, eliminating the need for software installation. However, you can download the Office suite, including Microsoft Word, and install it on your computer if you prefer.
Features Google Docs includes nearly all the features as Microsoft Word, including text formatting, line spacing and indentation, bulleted and numbered lists, inserting images and tables, and others. However, it lacks some of the more advanced features that are available in Microsoft Word, like page borders, background color, watermarking, and comparing two versions of a document. Microsoft Word provides many features, including the most common standard features used for creating and formatting documents. Word includes other more advanced features that are less commonly used, but can be quite useful, like page borders, background color, and watermarks to name a few.
Ease Of Use Being available in the cloud and having a user-friendly interface, Google Docs is easy to access and navigate for all users. Creating, editing, and saving a document in Google Docs requires minimal effort and expertise. Users of previous versions find Microsoft Word easy to use. However, those who are new to Microsoft Word may find it less user-friendly, requiring more effort to locate common features and formatting options. The user interface in Word is not as streamlined as other software, and Word also turns on options by default that users may find annoying, like some auto-formatting settings.
File Types for Saving Google Docs automatically saves documents in the cloud. Consequently, files are stored as one type. However, you can download a file as a different file type. There are 7 file formats currently available, including Word document (.doc and .docx), PDF, RTF (rich text format), plain text, and HTML. When saving a document in Microsoft Word, you can choose between multiple file types to save the document. There are about 15 file types currently available, including Word document (.doc and .docx), PDF, RTF, plain text, HTML.
Sharing Files Sharing a file with other people in Google Docs is very straightforward. All you have to do is enter the e-mail address of individuals with which you want to share a document. Anyone with a web browser can view a document that is publicly shared, and anyone with a Google account can edit a document. With Microsoft Word available in the cloud as part of Office 365, files can be shared with other users who also have an Office 365 subscription. Because of the cost of Office 365, you may find it harder to share Word files with other people because they may not want to pay the subscription fee. The alternative is to e-mail a copy of the Word file to other people to share it with them.
Updates Because Google Docs is in the cloud, it is automatically updated by Google and does not require users to manually apply any available updates. Google Docs is always kept up-to-date with the latest features and bug fixes. As a part of Office 365, Microsoft Word is available in the cloud and is automatically updated by Microsoft. If you download and install Microsoft Word on your computer, updates are automatically applied through the Windows Update process, which is automatic in Windows 10.
Security Google takes security very seriously and has implemented strong security in Google Docs. Users must have a Google account to access Google Docs and can set up two-factor authentication for additional protection. Accessing Office 365 and Microsoft Word in the cloud requires a Microsoft account. Two-factor authentication can also be configured for stronger security.
Support Google provides online training guides and documentation for Google Docs to help users who struggle with the program or have questions. There is also a strong online community for Google Docs where users can get help from other users and professionals. Microsoft provides help and training documentation online at There is also a large community of Microsoft Word users who can provide answers to your questions.