Why I prefer Microsoft Office over Google Apps (and Excel over Sheets)

These notes are prepared in advance of a collaborative article with another CPA. The proposed article is meant for accountants about the benefits of Microsoft Excel vs. Google Sheets. This is why I prefer Microsoft Office and Excel:

  1. I am paying Microsoft for a service so there is a legally enforceable contract. I have the right to presume that contract law applies in any breach of service. Since I am paying for Microsoft’s best efforts in protecting my data and making its services available, I have legal recourse (presumably as part of a class action) in the event that these basic expectations are not met.
  2. I opt to pay for privacy of my data to the maximum extent possible. In contrast, Google is fundamentally a data mining firm that uses Apps and Sheets to gather data for marketing purposes. I can imagine scenarios where data mining from the content of my Office and Excel documents would not be appropriate or desirable. Some of the factual allegations stemming form a recent series of lawsuits against Google for alleged inappropriate use of user data are disturbing and I prefer to simply avoid the risks stated by the complainants in these lawsuits.
  3. The reliability and support for this service has been impeccable, especially over the past year or so. The only time I needed paid premium personal support (several years ago) the service was great. There’s that old rule “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. I’ve been using Office for 20+ years and see no reason to switch given the strong track record.
  4. It is so easy to cut and paste or import/transfer from one Office application to another. I commonly transfer Excel data to/from Word documents and OneNote and occasionally to Powerpoint.
  5. The “included” services with Microsoft Office are great: OneDrive for storing and sharing, Skype for collaborating. These are generally recognized as “best in class” services. (I have not used Excel to share within a Skype call and would concede that Google/Sheets is recognized as having an advantage in that aspect of collaborative work).
  6. It’s a phenomenal value. At around $10 per month, I can have 5 PCs and 5 tablets. Each household member can have their own account.
  7. Accountants prefer Excel over Sheets. An informal poll titled “Excel vs Sheets: which do you prefer” in the LinkedIn CPA Sole Practitioners forum, seven out of seven CPAs who responded indicated a preference for Excel.
  8. The business, government agencies and professional firms I work with prefer a Microsoft Office environment. Job descriptions I see commonly say something like “competency with Microsoft Office required” but rarely do I see a similar statement about Google Apps.
  9. Office has more features than Docs. Excel has more features than Sheets.

I understand that “free is good” especially in situations where mass deployment of sharing is desired. In those cases Google Docs might be the way to go. I also understand that there is a some current of resentment against Microsoft for its tactics use to build a dominant market position but believe that issue is completely outside the scope of this comparison. In my professional practice, Microsoft Office and Excel are clearly the preferred choice.


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