Microsoft bashes Google Docs offering with Office 365 comparison

By Tom Warren, on 22nd Apr 11 11:24 am with 37 Comments

Microsoft's Office Web Apps vs Google Docs

Microsoft launched its Office 365 public beta earlier this week and has now taken the chance to demonstrate it against Google Docs.

The software giant has created a mini-site to compare the Word Web App vs Google Docs. Microsoft highlights several inconsistencies when the same Word file is saved on Windows Live SkyDrive (or SharePoint) and Google Apps, including:

  • Header: Word Web App displays the header exactly the same as the original document, while the same header is moved to a different location and the style is modified when viewed in Google Documents
  • Watermark: Word Web App displays “Confidential” watermark exactly the same as the original document, while the same watermark is missing when viewed in Google Documents
  • Smart Art: Word Web App displays the Smart Art exactly the same as the original document, while the same Smart Art is removed when viewed in Google Documents
  • Table Format: Content remains intact in both versions. Word Web App maintains the original format, while Google Documents changed the table format
  • Chart: Word Web App displays the chart exactly the same as the original document, while the same chart is removed when viewed in Google Documents
  • Footer: Word Web App displays the footer exactly the same as the original document, while the same footer is removed when viewed in Google Documents

Microsoft doesn’t stop there though, the company has uploaded both versions to Word Web App (link) and Google Documents (link) for the world to see. Microsoft and Google have both been at war over the past year to wow businesses and governments onto their Cloud based services. Google filed a suit in the the U.S. Court of Federal Claims against The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) on October 29 for not considering Google Apps in its Request for Quotation (RFQ). The lawsuit alleges that the DOI did not properly consider Google Apps. Microsoft has also taken the time to bash Google’s Cloud Connect Office plug-in. Microsoft claims that the plug-in, which allows users to sync documents between Word and Google Docs, can lead to data and productivity loss, erratic behavior and has serious security and privacy implications for organizations that implement the new product.

Microsoft’s senior director of Online Services Tom Rizzo also claimed in November that Google is “failing” in the enterprise. “Let Google say we’re way behind as we continue gobbling up enterprise customers. Let Google underestimate us. They’ll be shocked when they see all the momentum we have inside this space.” The ill feeling between the two companies continued this year when Google kicked off a search engine war of words. Search Engine Land posted a broad investigation into what Google claimed was Bing cheating search results. Amit Singhal, a Google Fellow who works on the company’s search engine ranking algorithm claimed that Bing was simply copying Google’s results. Google allegedly caught Microsoft’s copying by creating a “Bing Sting.” The search giant created one-time code that would manually rank a page for a certain term and create around 100 synthetic searches searches that hardly anyone would ever enter into Google. The searches returned little or no results on Google or Bing but Google created a special honeypot page to show at the top of each synthetic results page. The result? Bing started listing the random queries only a few weeks after Google began listing them.

Microsoft was quick to deny Google’s claims with a blog post entitled “Thoughts on search quality.” Microsoft’s Harry Shum simply shrugged off Google’s claims as part of over 1,000 different signals and features in Bing’s ranking algorithm. Google wasn’t happy leaving it at just that though. Amit Singhal published a Google company blog post entitled “Microsoft’s Bing uses Google search results—and denies it.” The blog post outlines much of the original report from Search Engine Land but also called Bing’s search results stale and a “cheap imitation” of Google results. Microsoft and Google employees also traded jibes over Twitter. Microsoft eventually “set the record straight” and both companies swept the incident under the carpet.

However, the feud came to a head recently when Microsoft filed an E.U. antitrust complaint against Google. The complaint is part of an ongoing investigation in the EU into whether Google has violated European competition law. Microsoft’s concerns center around the following:

  • Google acquired YouTube – puts in place technical measures to restrict competing search engines
  • Google blocked Microsoft’s new Windows Phones from operating properly with YouTube
  • Google is seeking to block access to content owned by book publishers
  • Google is restricting advertisers from accessing their own data
  • Google contractually blocks leading Web sites in Europe from distributing competing search boxes
  • Google discriminates against would-be competitors by making it more costly for them to attain prominent placement for their advertisements

The most recent example of Microsoft vs Google came earlier this month when Microsoft posted a stinging blog post publicly attacking Google. Microsoft’s claimed that Google had mislead its customers by claiming it has been certified under the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA). Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel David Howard, explained that the United States Department of Justice had rejected Google’s claim that Google Apps for Government, Google’s cloud-based suite for government customers, had been certified under the FISMA. “So why did Google tell governments and the public that Google Apps for Government was FISMA certified even before it had applied for that certification? We’ll have to wait for Google to tell us what they were thinking,” said Howard in his original blog post. Google claims Microsoft’s blog post was breathless and irresponsible. “We’ve been open and transparent with the government, and it’s irresponsible for Microsoft to suggest otherwise,” said a Google spokesperson.

The war of words and products will likely continue throughout 2011 as both companies battle for search market share and enterprise customers. Microsoft appears to be moving aggressively to ensure it holds onto its key enterprise customers as more and more products move to Cloud hosted solutions. Google on the other hand is attempting to muscle into Microsoft’s key market share with products that don’t always cut the mustard, as Microsoft has proven once again this week.

Thanks to WinRumors reader Simon for the news tip

  • Wourelia
  • http://www.timacheson.com/ Tim Acheson

    Comparison? There is no comparison. Office Web Apps is the real thing, while Docs attempts to emulate a small subset of MS Office features.

    Docs is cool and trendy, but that makes those who use and worship it nothing more than fashion victims. Don’t settle for cheap imitations.

    • Anonymous

      Word is Microsoft’s proprietary format. Is it any surprise they do this better? The real question is why do we need to convert Office docs once the user is solidly using Google Docs? Conversion of Word documents is a very small aspect of what Google Docs does. It just happens to be one of the things Microsoft does better, but as I pointed out above, this should be how it works, anyways.

      How’s Office 365′s real time collaboration stack up against Google Docs?

    • Anonymous

      Word is Microsoft’s proprietary format. Is it any surprise they do this better? The real question is why do we need to convert Office docs once the user is solidly using Google Docs? Conversion of Word documents is a very small aspect of what Google Docs does. It just happens to be one of the things Microsoft does better, but as I pointed out above, this should be how it works, anyways.

      How’s Office 365′s real time collaboration stack up against Google Docs?

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      Word might be a “proprietary” format, but as of 2007 the format itself has been completely open. Any program that can open a zip file and read XML can read/write any office document, or you can use the “OpenDocument” SDK that Microsoft provides for free. So Google has NO excuses.

      The problem is exactly what the OP stated… Google docs only supports a small subset of what is standard in Office. This was fine when Google was the only one offering online documents for free, but not now…

      Why should people convert? Because every time someone emails me a Google Doc it looks like a document from 10 years ago or a document made by a 10 year old.

      Microsoft spent the time to make sure that the fidelity between desktop and online is maintained as much as possible and it clearly shows.

    • http://tech-buzz.net Thilak Rao

      Do you really wanna know why Microsoft does it better?

      See this Screenshot from Word Web App – http://i.imgur.com/phYx6.png

      Let the screenshot do all the talking LOL!

    • Bikeguy

      Thanks, Microsoft!

    • Bikeguy

      Thanks, Microsoft!

  • Grannyville7989

    Sounds like Microsoft are intensifying the forward batteries so that Google doesn’t get through.

  • Jeff

    Did anyone noticed that MS web apps tooks almost 10 times that Google Doc to load?

    • Brian

      Yea…that’s because it does more. notice how long it takes to download an app for you iSheep phone…or perhaps it’s your doogle phone? Well…there you go, holmes.

  • Jeff, MS Employee

    MS never had any product original ideas since their start.
    MS-DOS: based on CP/M
    Windows GUI: Stolen from Apple
    Word: based on WordStar
    Excel: Based on VisiCalc
    Visual Studio: the IDE and other ideas copied from Borland’s Turbo Pascal.
    C#: A new version of C++ influenced by JAVA.
    PowerPoint and FrontPage: Made by other companies first, MS bough the companies in the 80s and 90s.
    CRM: based on Salesforce.com
    Office365: MS was making fun of Google Docs all the time when they did nto have an equivalent product. Ballmer used to say the market is not ready for the cloud (because MS did not have any cloud based product). But once they patched something together, then they talk about O365 and the cloud.
    SQL server: Was based on code from Sybase SQL Server.

    MS could monopolize only 2 products (Office and Windows). the reason for that is there was no big competition at that time, since then they have had a hard time building a reasonable of any other product share, for example:
    - Windows mobile: they have been the looser since they started.
    - Search: Bing at the bottom of the search market.
    - O365: They are playing catch-up.
    - CRM: They have been using their muscle power to broaden their share but with no success.

    Microsoft only sti8ves when it locks in the customer, that is why they fought so hard to standardize the OpenXML format they have.

    Therefore from now on it is going to be downhill for them now that the cloud is giving the customer more choice and there are giants like Google, Amazon and Saleforce.com in the business.

    If I were Ballmer, I would cash my 400 million MS shares and leave.

    • Mark

      You seem to be having trouble keeping track of whether you’re an MS employee or MS is “they”.

    • http://chipotle.tumblr.com/ Watts

      Word is not based on WordStar, it’s based on Xerox’s “Bravo” word processor from the Alto/Star systems; part of the Xerox development team was hired away by Microsoft. Excel was a GUI derivative of MultiPlan, not VisiCalc; you can only call MultiPlan “based on” VisiCalc to the same degree that all spreadsheet programs are, and if we’re going to use *that* standard for bashing people for unoriginality, nobody has done anything original in the entire computing field since the 1970s. The Windows GUI was “stolen” from Apple in roughly the same way that the Mac and Lisa GUI were “stolen” from Xerox, for instance.

      Also, as someone who’s used both early versions of Visual Studio as well as Turbo Pascal, you’re really stretching things with that comparison, unless you’re alleging that Microsoft copied the very concept of an “integrated development environment” from Borland — and again, it seems like you’re singling Microsoft out for something that’s hardly unique to them. (The concept of “IDE” predates Borland, anyway.)

      But, this has been a charmingly retro Microsoft-bashing post, so thanks! I’m used to seeing people do this sort of blustery, ill-informed rundown with Apple these days. It’s nice to revisit the blustery, ill-informed rundowns of 1999. Hey, can you go back and do one for the Amiga vs. Atari ST now? That’d be awesome!

    • http://www.brandonwerner.com Brandon Werner

      You forgot one thing at the end of all those statements, “at first”

      C# has passed Java in language features, for instance.

      For the rest, I don’t wish to feed the troll :-)

    • Anonymous

      Apple couldn’t build an OS to save their lives, that’s why they stole BSD and just slapped their proprietary garbage on top.

      Meanwhile, Microsoft’s NT kernel is a world class system built completely in-house.

    • Quinn H.

      That’s why every Windows OS has some major security holes, while Mac OS X and the *nix community are pretty much perfectly secure.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, the Mac OS falls first every year at pwn2own. It has way more security holes, it’s just that nobody uses it so it’s not a huge target like Windows.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      Actually that’s a complete myth… It has been proven many many times over the years that Macs are far less secure than Windows. It’s not even a contest.

      The only reason why Windows has been the target of hackers and viruses is because they make up over 90% of the PC market. It has nothing to do with “security holes”

    • http://chipotle.tumblr.com/ Watts

      While this is a common misconception, OS X is not based on BSD. Many of the user space applications like command line utilities were ported from FreeBSD, but the kernel is not, and in fact most of the components that most users use on a day-to-day basis are not from BSD at all. You pretty much have to be working in the terminal to encounter most of them. (Barring things like the BSD network stack, of course, which one might note that Windows used from NT up until Vista.)

      Apple bought NextStep and that’s where the OS X kernel actually came from; it’s pretty silly to say that it isn’t a kernel built completely in-house. Meanwhile, Microsoft hired VMS’s chief architect and some of his team from DEC to write Windows NT. There are a *lot* of ideas in NT that originally started in VMS, to a point where former DEC engineers described NT as “VMS re-implemented.” This isn’t a bad thing; VMS was a great operating system that didn’t get a chance to move into the mainstream PC space, so it’s great that a new OS inspired by it did. Likewise, NextStep was a great OS that didn’t have any chance in the mainstream PC space, but its descendant — OS X — appears to be doing just fine.

      Now let’s all hold hands and sing “Kumbaya,” and dream of a world where Windows users and Mac users won’t feel a need to engage in d…esktop waving at one another, hmm?

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      Oh right because Google invented search engines and web crawlers right? Those things NEVER existed before Google came around…

      Not to metion that all of Google Docs is basically an exact clone of Office 2002….

      Not to mention that Android was basically an exact clone of iOS.

      The moral of the story is that ALL companies improve on existing ideas. That’s what we call “competition” boys and girls.

  • Tomridge
  • Grs_dev

    I like the quote from the movie Pirates of Silicon Valley where the character playing Balmer tells Gates when they’re backstage at Apple during Jobs unveiling of the Mac…”When did this stop being a business and become a religion?”

    • Tom

      We were asking that quesiton 25 years ago, and we’ll still be asking that question 25 years from now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001728072052 Paul Undernet

    Maybe the anti-MS people would do well to read Raymond Chen’s blog and see exactly what sort of innovative work went on “under the hood” to make Windows work as well as it did and does….

  • Quinn H.

    Also, anyone remember IE 6 through 9? They’re all shit. Version 1 of Chrome was better than them.

    • Vineethv3

      Were you been using any other browsers few years back. It has always been IE the world have been using. People have a trend to blame the older stuff even if it is still good. Google, Apple… how many products they have released yet? we can count them on fingers .. Comparison with MS is not very easy yet

  • rojer

    The Microsoft version of the document is just a collection of images. Try to select a fragment of text and see how well it works. This also precludes any sort of online collaboration: all you have is a soup of images, you cannot select or edit anything online. I bet that Microsoft’s version of the document is little more than a screenshot of Word working somewhere in the backend.

    • Quentin Calvez

      Ok, so clicking the “edit” button was too difficult for you ?

      I’m not saying that Office Web Apps are superior to Google Docs, but saying “you cannot select or edit anything online” is a bit too much don’t you think ?

    • rojer

      i would, but it’s greyed out. what am i doing wrong?

  • Grs_dev

    rojer you’re too dumb to read or follow instructions. But I guess anyone fiddling with Office XP still and or Open Office wouldn’t comprehend how to open then edit a word document in the modern versions of Office.

    Quinn H. For its time IE 6 was leaps and bounds ahead of its competitors. For its time IE9 IS CURRENTLY leaps and bounds ahead of its competitors. Chrome hit the market in 2008. IE6 came out in 2001. IE9 is the most mature and robust browser on the market.

    I guess you’re just happy with incomplete or partial products as long as they don’t carry the evil Microsoft logo on them anywhere!

    • rojer

      oh yeah? well, then. so i get this link to a nice looking doc from a colleague and i’d like to comment on a sentence. can i do that in a doc? no, i cannot. can i copy a fragment and email him my comment? no, i cannot. can i edit it in-place? no, i cannot. can i copy this doc, edit it and send my colleague a link to an updated version? no, i cannot. because all we have here is a pretty picture (i don’t have silverlight installed so i don’t know if silverlight adds some of the capabilities – but google docs work without silverlight or any other plugins, so i don’t care).

      now, *all* of these i can do with a google doc: i can invite my colleagues to collaborate, i can leave a comment (and he will be notified by email), i can copy the doc and edit. finally, i can email it as a link or finally, i can export it as a .doc or .pdf and email it as an attachment.

    • rojer

      …*and* i don’t need a $500 piece of software installed on my pc. all i need is a browser that is less than 10 years old. if i have that, i can do all of that, anywhere in the world.

  • Grs_dev

    dumb dumb, I mean rojer. When you open a document in word 2007 or later or word for web, by default it’s protected and meant for read only purposes. You must enable editing to be able to do any of the things you described. But since you’re too dense to figure that part on your own and you’re clearly satisfied with docs and the way an productivity suite of apps functioned 10 years ago, I suggest you stick to what you’re best comfortable with and not try to miserably and foolishly bash something you know nothing about… I guess I could have just replied with a simple STFU, but then again, I wouldn’t have made the world a better place by enlightning yet another idiot who doesn’t like to get with the times.

  • Grs_dev

    dumb dumb, I mean rojer. When you open a document in word 2007 or later or word for web, by default it’s protected and meant for read only purposes. You must enable editing to be able to do any of the things you described. But since you’re too dense to figure that part on your own and you’re clearly satisfied with docs and the way an productivity suite of apps functioned 10 years ago, I suggest you stick to what you’re best comfortable with and not try to miserably and foolishly bash something you know nothing about… I guess I could have just replied with a simple STFU, but then again, I wouldn’t have made the world a better place by enlightning yet another idiot who doesn’t like to get with the times.

  • http://www.appatic.com Avatar X

    I think that the most impressive thing about Office Web Apps is that it managed to get as many users as Google Docs in a year. Right now it actually got more users than Google Docs already. Hell, it got as many users as Google Docs, Zoho Office and Live Documents put up together.

  • Jeffmanster888

    I always find it funny that Microsoft fanboys refuse to believe they’re fanboys just because they’re not apple or google fanboys.

    Let’s look at this rationally. Microsoft has a very, very solid office suite. I have no reason to believe this isn’t true for the cloud version as well. But, I likely will not use it, because 1) I don’t really care about whether I can insert graphs into my essays; if it can handle a picture or two, and I can collaborate quickly and efficiently, it’s enough (for me). If I (personally) want to get any more graphically complex work done, I’ll use desktop software, most likely Office. 2) I primarily use a Google account. If anybody wants to point out that this will having the stealz Mai data, I will promptly lose my faith in humanity. 3) If I was a hardcore office collaboration guy, I’d probably go with this. 4) Don’t bullshit statistics. All varieties of fanboys do this, it’s just that Microsoft fanboys seem to be the worst offenders.
    If you want to call me an applefag or googletard (is that the word you youngsters use these days?) go ahead; I’m going to go ahead and check out the windows 8 leak.