The New Computer Age: Office 365 SharePoint on-line Vs Google and Dropbox
Differences in Software as a Service (SaaS)
This is the 21st century, the New Computer Age. Cloud services and SaaS are available for all to use.
Word on-line, Excel on-line and Power Point on-line are just such services. They are available to all who want them, they are free, if taken via One Drive Live, and they enable the creation, editing and viewing of Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PP presentations on ANY device that has a browser installed. This without any need to install software on the device used. The on-line software that is used to create the files is the same on-line software used to view them. There can be no incompatibilities and no missing fonts.
Open Document Standards, to which these most office applications conform, requires that any document file should contain the properties of style, layout, font etc. These elements are the property of the document file and will travel with it wherever it is stored or sent. However, issues can still arise when the recipient of a document file tries to view it locally on a device with Word, Excel or Power Point installed or third party office applications installed, but where the font set is either not present or is corrupt. The application should warn the user that there will be a font substitution and results may not be as expected.
Fixing the machine with the missing or corrupt font set often requires the intervention of an IT ‘techie’. But, for the user, listening to reasons why things don’t work and suffering the inconvenience of fixes are boring, time consuming and sometimes expensive. So why tolerate it when using SaaS means that you can get things done faster and more efficiently.
Using a SaaS on-line application that all users can access via the Internet browser means that they click the button and the software works as expected. If the file share is with an external user, who may not have access to the same SaaS application, the external user can be ‘invited’ to view, or even collaborate on, the file using the originating office application.
Google and Microsoft are competing to deliver SaaS to business users via paid for platforms and there are also offerings from Amazon and others. I prefer to recommend the Microsoft solutions at this time because -
1. Office 365 incorporates SharePoint on-line. This delivers a complete Enterprise Content Management system bundled in the package. None of the competition have this feature.
2. Some of the Google apps are not fully compatible with the standard Microsoft products. For instance, Google Sheets does not support all of the Excel formula.
3. Microsoft product are tightly integrated with the full MS Office suite, which is the software of choice for most business worldwide.
4. Microsoft are proactive in providing development and marketing of O365, they pour considerable resources into future proofing the services available.
Google on the other hand seem to be rather shy at pushing and developing their business app offerings. If they were to announce the development of an ECM I would feel more confident in recommending the services. The end story is that businesses will benefit from the use of cloud services and SaaS, using what software they want, when and where they want it.
Savings are there to be made.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris A Watkins provides help and support to a small number of businesses in the field of automated workflow. This is especially relevant for organisations wishing to utilise the full power of SharePoint online in O365.