He quickly added: "However, the other 20% of Office users are using actual applications they have developed or have paid consultants such as myself to develop." For them, Google Docs is not happening, precisely because they use much of the power that Office can deliver.

Which camp do you belong in?

Christa Scherck, who runs her own public relations agency in Los Angeles, gave her side of the story: "My laptop came with a trial of MS Office but with Google Docs being free and available, I'd rather invest in the latest marketing tools not software. I've been using Google Docs ever since and it's been working for me. I don't see the need to return to Office."

Heather Summers, a Texas software trainer, said she spent 15 years teaching people how to use Microsoft Office; now she teaches them Google Docs. She admits that, for power users, Excel - Microsoft's mature spreadsheet app - is significantly more robust than Google's Sheets. Excel, she said, is "one of the hardest things for people to give up" when they move to Docs.

She claimed, too, that Google Docs has an ace in the hole - the app called Forms - which, she explained, is much better than anything in Office. "In Office the only way to create a form is by creating a Word Template with the Forms toolbar and then locking that template so that people can't change it but can still answer the questions," she said. "You have to either print or save each form in a folder and then collate the answers by hand."

By contrast, this is seamlessly done in Google Docs.

"You can create a form by using Google Forms," she said. "You don't have to protect or lock anything. The form is accessible through email or by a link. The answers are automatically saved into a spreadsheet for you and the answers are collated for you. They are also automatically made into graphs so you can graphically see the results."

Not all sing the praises of Google Docs. Suken Shah, CFO at Neatpost, which provides tools for searching and managing classified ads, said that Google Docs has "a long way to go" before it catches up with Office."

He specifically pointed to Google Presentation and insisted it lacks the bells and whistles feature in PowerPoint.

Additionally, just about nobody would say the email and calendar tools offered by Google are on a par with Microsoft's Outlook. The latter is the gold standard and, really, the only question is: do you need that much power?

The pennywise solution: use Google Docs for a week and keep tabs: are there functions you wish you could perform more easily? Can they be performed better in Office?

You just may find Google Docs is all you need and the price, definitely, is very right. If not, give Microsoft 365 a trial.

Note: This reporter switched to Google Docs about four years ago, with no complaints. But your needs may be different.

--Written by Robert McGarvey for MainStreet

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