Sunday, May 16, 2010

Google Documents versus Open Office

I have just bought a new lap top and refused to pay for $200 plus for Microsoft Office. So I have been using Google Documents, and now Open Office for all my "office" work. Both systems are free and are worth considering if you do not want to buy into Microsoft Office. Jerry Brockmeier has written an in-depth comparison of the two systems "Small Business Software: vs. Google Docs". Here are some thoughts I have from my own personal experience.

1. How can I integrate Google Docs and Open Office with Microsoft Office?
The main concern I had about moving to Open Office was how I was going to manage the huge amount of work I have in Microsoft Office formats? And further more, how can I collaborate with people who are still using Microsoft?

The beauty about Google Docs and Open Office is that they convert Microsoft files into formats you can work on, and then convert them back to Microsoft. And I think (but don't quote me before I check this) that you can now save files in an Open Office format in Microsoft.

2. Google Docs and Open Office are integrated
The beauty of both products is that you can switch back and forth and save documents and presentations in formats that can be opened in both Google Docs and Open Office.

3. Google Documents is portable
This means you can take your work wherever you have Internet access - this is particularly useful if you move between a number of computers. The downside to this is you're stuck if you have no Internet access. In contrast, Open Office is embedded in your computer, as is Microsoft. So you have to install Open Office on every computer you work on.

4. Which is more secure?
Any data you store in Google Docs is hosted on a server somewhere in the world. This means that if the server goes down for whatever reason, you will not have access to your data. I have to say that I have never had this problem in the two years I have been using Google Docs but the potential is always there.

The other potential problem is that your data is not as secure in Google Docs as it is when it is stored in Open Office on your own private computer.

5. Which is best?
I think that Open Office is better than Google Documents for what I call 'long term' work. It has more functions and is easier to manage. But Google Docs is brilliant for collaborative work - more than one person can work on a document at the same time which gets rid of emails going back and forth with track changes and so on.

What are your experiences of using Google Docs and Open Office? What would motivate your move to Open Office? What do you feel are the benefits of staying with Microsoft Office?


Pamela Harnden said...

I also have open office, google docs and microsoft office.

I like the collaborative element of google docs but I still have trouble uploading my documents and then finding them. I've had particular trouble recently with one document but for the life of me I cannot work out why I can't find it listed as one of my documents after it has uploaded.
Open office is great obviously because it is free. i am also going to encourge my kids to use it. I just find it lacks some variety on the templates for presentations.
Obviously microsoft office is the one that I have used most frequently and I like the variety and ease of use.
I just need to persevere more with open office so that I become accoustomed to it.

Sarah Stewart said...

I'm still getting my head around Open Office so any hints or tips on how to get the most out of it will be gratefully received.

Hervé said...

-4. Which is more secure?:
The data on your computer is also not secure. The PC needs to be protected by an up-to-date and reputable anti-virus/firewall. It does not make the system 100% safe, but it goes a long way towards it.

-I have had mixed luck with importing word and excel documents into Google docs, to the point when I think that you cannot consider the two compatible.

-I might play with Open office in the near future, to see if it fares better.

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Herve, I have to secure is any of the things we do in an digital environment or anywhere for that matter? I might think my data is secure in my paper notebook by the side of the bed, but it might get stolen by a burglar or destroyed in a house fire.

The point I am trying to make is that I agree with you...things are as secure as we make them...