Review: Microsoft Office Online vs. Apple iWork for iCloud vs. Google Drive


If a Web companion to desktop Office is what you seek, Office Online has the edge. That said, don't expect to view and edit Office docs in Office Online with nary a hiccup. While simple Office documents can go through a round trip to Office Online and escape unscathed, even moderately complicated documents can end up in shreds.

If you relax your requirement for desktop Office compatibility, both Apple and Google offer excellent alternatives. Apple's iWork for iCloud feels like it was designed to unify the concepts behind word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. The user interfaces are all remarkably similar, minimalist, and easy to follow. The design is at once elegant and accessible. And though Apple's online word processor and spreadsheet may not measure up to Microsoft's or Google's in features, for those who tend to build documents rich in visual flourishes, iWork for iCloud brings more tools to bear.

By contrast, Google's Docs, Sheets, and Slides feel like they've been cobbled together from spare parts -- much like Office 2003. They cover a whole lot of ground, but in a meandering way. Taken together, though, they comprise the most feature-rich online productivity suite. The word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation apps are all highly functional. The same can't be said for Office Online.

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Woody Leonhard

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