Yes, Microsoft has launched a subscription based web application. Remember the time Microsoft bunged internet explorer for free into their OS that brought Netscape navigator down? Seems it’s going head-on for the battle of supremacy with Google now. For its operation, Microsoft 365 uses hybrid cloud technology, and as we all know, Google Docs (now Google Drive) is a web based office suit and data storage service which works on cloud as well. Go figure!
Google Docs became available to public on January 13, 2010 and has grown since then. It started with 1 GB space and has been increased to 10 GB since then. The main features of Google Drive are document, spreadsheet, presentation and the most important of all – “real time collaboration”. The Drive is available on your mobile device as well. Microsoft, however, declared about this web based app during the autumn of 2010 but it became publicly available on June 28, 2011 (1 year 5 months 15 days after their competitor). The main features here are document, spreadsheet, presentation, onenote and Microsoft Server support (Exchange, Lync and SharePoint). Exchange emails can also be synced with any your mobile device now.
Regarding the feel of both the products, Microsoft scores a +1. The MS office apps give you very attractive themes to choose from, while Google uses the default black and white.
Both Google Drive and Office 365 are web based platforms and they work, more or less, on all the browsers. Needless to mention, Google Doc works better on Chrome and Office 365 on Internet Explorer.
Office 365 is available to Mac users as well, provided they have Office for Mac 2007 SP1 or later installed on their machines. Google doesn’t have any such pre-requisites. One can go online, create any document and send, share or just save. All one need is a Gmail account. Though usability of Office 365 is very sketchy on different operating systems, Outlook web access can be used from any platform, including Linux (i.e., if you are on Microsoft Exchange Server).
Microsoft, with office 365, has targeted the business sectors that rely on web apps to carry out their day-to-day functions. The subscription varies from $6 to $27 per month, according to the size of the business (small, medium and large ventures). Google Drive, on the other hand, is free (default space: 16GB) and can be upgraded to 25 GB and 100GB paying $2.49/month and $4.99/month respectively.
The real time collaboration is where Google beats Microsoft. It has been a primary selling area for Google. One can create a document on Google Drive, share it with another Google account with ease, and not just that, the users can see the editing in realtime (as it happens). Google has voice calling features and instant messaging inbuilt into Gmail, so that any user can do an audio/video call or instant message with their contacts (while using Google Drive) without being overwhelmed. Microsoft, even after buying Skype, seems to ignore this feature.
Though many people are used to Microsoft products, especially corporates who rely on Microsoft Office bigtime, the fact that Google pushed Microsoft to the edge with a document-system on cloud, makes it an interesting battle to watchout for.
Only time will tell who wins this battle of the titans.