Today’s post is the first in our five part series on How to Survive Life After Microsoft Office. For the complete story, you can download the Life After Office ebook here.
THE END OF OFFICE AS YOU KNOW IT
They’ve taken away your Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint—and replaced them with something called Google Drive (or maybe Google Docs…or is it Google Apps?). After years of using a familiar set of tools for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, your IT staff now expects you to learn a whole new suite of office applications—and they live in your web browser.
Not to worry; Google Drive isn’t as different as it seems.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOGLE DRIVE, GOOGLE DOCS AND GOOGLE APPS
First, let’s get some terms down. Google Apps is Google’s complete office productivity solution, which replaces (more or less) everything in Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft OneDrive. As such, there are lots of moving parts in Google Apps. Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Contacts replace Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Exchange (and we’ve got a whole other guide to help you cope with the Outlook to Gmail switch).
Google Drive is a substitute for Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and the file-sharing aspects of Microsoft SharePoint and Microsoft OneDrive. In some respects, Google Drive is very similar to MS OneDrive; it’s a web-based file sharing and syncing system that does more than your old Documents folder could ever dream.
Google Docs is the word processor built into Google Drive that replaces MS Word. Google Sheets similarly steps in for MS Excel, and Google Slides is your new MS PowerPoint. Gdocs, Gsheets and Gslides all live within, and are included as part of, Gdrive.
EVERYBODY HAS THEIR OWN MOBILE APP
For you mobile users, it should be noted that Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides all have their own, separate mobile apps. Just because you download Google Drive for Android or iOS doesn’t mean you can create and edit Gdocs, Gsheets and Gslides; you’ll need their standalone mobile apps to do anything besides view and share your Gdrive files.
THE PARETO PRINCIPLE OF OFFICE PRODUCTIVITY APPS
The first thing you’ll notice about Google Drive and its component applications are all the MS Office options that aren’t there. Google has gone out of its way to make Gdrive easy to use, and as such has embraced the Pareto Principle of user interface design. The 20 percent of word processing, spreadsheet and presentation features used 80 percent of the time are all that Google exposes in Google Drive. It’s a minimal set of controls, so new users aren’t intimidated with too many options. This avoids confusion and makes getting started easier.
For veteran MS Office power users, this sparse interface can be a little frustrating, as each of us has a niche Office feature or two we feel we can’t live without—and odds are that feature isn’t obvious in Google Drive. Not to worry, there are relatively few Office functions that aren’t in Gdrive somewhere and, for those that aren’t available, there are ways of bringing those features back into Google Drive.
DOCUMENTS ON THE WEB, OR WHY YOU CAN’T MISPLACE YOUR FILES ANYMORE
Google Drive is a cloud storage system, first and foremost. That means any files you save in Google Drive can be accessed from any web browser. No more carrying around USB drives or making sure you don’t mix up your “work laptop” and your “home laptop.”
So long as the device you’re using has an internet connection—be it a laptop, desktop, smartphone or tablet—you can access all of your Google Drive files. Effectively, every computer is now your computer.
Still feeling uneasy about the switch from Microsoft Office to Google Apps? Grab the “How to Survive Life After Office” survival guide below which walks you through life after Microsoft Office - what’s different, what’s the same, and what you need to know to succeed. Over the next few weeks we’ll post blog updates on how to help get your Microsoft-dependent team to love and embrace all things Google.