Blog | Tips and Tools for Diagramming & Visual Communication | Gliffy

Can Google Drive Replace Microsoft Word?

Written by Liza Mock | Mar 16, 2016

We at Gliffy consider ourselves to be a tech-forward office. We’re usually up on the latest gadgets, software, games and Kickstarter campaigns. And while Gliffy diagrams can be added to Word, PowerPoint and Google Drive with equal ease, most of us will choose Google Drive over Microsoft hands down. Is it really because one is better than the other? We decided to dig deeper and compare the two.

For decades, Microsoft Word has set the standard for word-processing software, with powerful tools for managing documents on both PCs and Macs. Now, its dominance is being challenged by other systems offering comprehensive writing and editing tools, spreadsheet and presentation functions, and much more. Topping the list of rivals is Google's cloud-based Google Drive, which is drawing a growing share of Word's market.

Can Google Drive replace Microsoft Word as the go-to document-management system for business and personal use? As the two programs continue to evolve and extend their basic functionality with an ever-growing list of add-ons and features, the answer depends largely on a user's budget and need for expanded options.

Word's Evolution

In the years since it was introduced as a part of Microsoft Office, Word has gone through a series of incarnations and updates that extend its range from term papers to business briefs and beyond. It's included in a number of Microsoft packages, and a version has been developed for Mac.
Although Word comes bundled on many computers, its standard versions are not free. Purchased alone or as part of a package such as Microsoft Office Home, it can cost $100 or more to install on a home computer or laptop. Until recently, that was the only way to use Word. To share documents, users had to email them or move them from one device to another via flash drive or disk.
In all its forms, Word offers a full range of tools that allow users to create documents for a variety of purposes, add images, annotate and footnote, and format in a variety of styles. Word allows for collaborative editing with its "Track Changes" feature. And it provides a number of templates and allows users to save and export documents in an array of formats.

Google Drive: Free and Shareable

What does Google Drive have to offer? A price break, for one thing. Google Drive is free for home and school use, and business users who need more features can get them for a small subscription fee. Drive also includes Spreadsheet and Presentation, counterparts to Office's Excel and PowerPoint. Each of its word-processing tools has a counterpart in Word, with options for adding images, links and notes. Most significant, because it's completely cloud-based, documents created in Drive or imported from other programs (including Word) can be collaboratively edited in real time and shared instantly on any device with apps available from Google.

Word Stays Competitive

Flexibility and easy sharing were once Google Drive's clear advantage over Word, but Microsoft recently leveled the playing field with new offerings that take Word to the cloud and make it mobile. Office 365 is a web-based version of Word that can be accessed across devices, like Google Drive, while Word Mobile can be installed on any Android device to edit documents and share them.

The Verdict

Since these days both Word and Google Drive offer similar basic features and cloud-based sharing, the real difference ends up being personal preference. People who have a history of working with Word tend to like Word, arguing that it’s more robust and feature-rich. On the other hand, people who are used to Google Drive tend to prefer Google Drive, citing the fact that it’s less complicated and more intuitive. Also, while Word’s addition of cloud options is fairly recent, it’s been Google Drive's claim to fame since day one.

So after doing a side-by-side comparison and finding little real difference, for team Gliffy it does end up being a question of preference. What's more, we've recently added a new integration so you can save, share and search for your Gliffy diagrams in Google Drive if that's your tool of choice. We’ve given our heart to Google Drive and that’s where it’s going to stay for the foreseeable future.