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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.