Microsoft argues while its products are pricier, they're better

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) isn't exactly shy about letting us know about how it feels about Google Inc.'s (GOOG) productivity suite -- Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides -- and its cloud storage solution, Google Drive.

With the relatively well-recieved launch of free Office 365 for the iPad (well, free for Office 365 subscribers) and with its new SkyDrive replacement OneDrive, Microsoft appears to have gotten a little cocky.  In a posting, Sanjeevini Mittal, a Office Live Workspace project manager at Microsoft, lambastes Google's offerings, writing:

[If] someone on your team moves the file to Google Drive and opens it to make changes, you no longer experience that familiar Office look and the formatting is a mess, will likely be recreating the formatting and making sure no content was lost. No matter what kind of group project you’re collaborating on, you don’t want to waste time reformatting and finalizing the collective work of your team, or worrying whether one or more of your team members is unable to share in the rich Office experience on their devices.

Why settle for a suboptimal experience using Google Docs, Sheets and Slides when Office provides you the best experience available with the modern Office experience on PC and iPad already.

To be fair, he's got a point -- somewhat.  Early in the post he raises the valid point that Office remains the most widely used and familiar document format.

And while some Android users will likely prefer Google's tightly integrated word processing software on their PCs, it occasionally has issues with Microsoft's latest Office formats, particularly in media-rich documents or documents with scripts.

Google Docs
Google Docs and its brethren do occasionally run into compatibility snags.

On the iPad, the situation is interesting.  Both Google's and Microsoft's productivity apps are free to users, although Microsoft's will only be free to those who subscribe to Office 365 on their PC.  Both suites are relatively barebones compared to some third-party competitors' offerings, but also more reliable and visually appealing.  Again, Mr. Mittal is right about at least one thing -- Microsoft does have a familiarity advantage.

On the flip side, for individual users, Google Docs is free on the PC, while Office is not.  While there are various discounted SKUs, it is still far from free.  And while Office 365 integrates cloud connectivity and other nice perks, it exacerbates this problem to some extent, as you typically will wind up paying much more if you update your devices and your Office install infrequently.  And that brings to mind another problem -- too many options.  A user has to pick between 2 or 3 versions of Office depending on your viewpoint (Office traditional, Office for Mac, or Office 365).  Given the number of guides on the topic, there's clearly not a strong consensus about which one consumers should pick, which is bad news for consumers.

Office editions

It's understandable why Microsoft is a bit testy. Google is offering enterprises productivity software that's a third the cost of Microsoft's.  Google claims that 5 million businesses now use its paid enterprise apps.  

Google apps business

Of course small businesses could also consider LibreOffice (OpenOffice, now free of Oracle Corp.'s (ORCL) meddling), which is cheaper than either Microsoft or Google's offerings (hint: it's free).

Libre Office
Libre Office is free.

This isn't the first time we've heard this kind of rhetoric from Microsoft.  Just last year it was blasting Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iWork suite.  And in 2010 propoganda against OpenOffice, it made the interesting accusation that using open source software harms students' grades.

While this debate will likely continue to roll on, one interesting side note that slipped out during the anti-Google rant was this:

Office will be available on other platforms [besides iOS, Windows] soon. These Office experiences will continue to make collaborating across devices easier, richer and more complete than ever.

Is Office going to come to popular Linux distributions like Ubuntu?  Are Office 365 apps preparing to make an Android appearance.  The latter seems more likely, but either way, this was an interesting confirmation of rumors we've long heard of coming Linux versions of Office.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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