Google Docs has won the office suite war among one generation

A recent Twitter trend indicated the office suite wars were over and Google Docs the clear winner. Find out how Jack Wallen came to this conclusion.

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I spend a lot of time on Twitter. According to some, I spend too much of my precious existence on that social networking platform. However, during last week's travels among the Twitterverse, I noticed something interesting had trended. Said trend was Google Docs. At first, I assumed the service was down, but given it was working fine in my part of the world, and after a quick Google search for "Google Docs down," I quickly realized it was trending for a different reason. So I pulled back the curtain and peered in.

What I found didn't surprise me one bit.

It turns out the younger generation—those who are currently in school at nearly any level or age—defaults to Google Docs for work. I saw Tweets that ranged from "When my teacher asks me to turn in a .docx file, I assume she means export from Google Docs," to "Why would I pay for Office365 when I can use Google Docs for free?" At the time there were over 100,000 tweets in the trend, all of them painting a very specific picture.

Google Docs has won the office suite war among the younger generations.

I pondered this conclusion for a bit and realized it was drawn for several reasons, some of which were perfectly summed up in tweets similar to those above. 

But I believe it's much more than that. 

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Many of us were weaned on the likes of client-based office suites like Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, StarOffice and WordPerfect. The interfaces and workflows became second nature to us. As much as we favored one or the other, we could all jump from one office suite to another, without so much as a hiccup. Sure, there were subtle differences, but for the most part, they all stuck to the same UX and we were good to go.

Younger users, on the other hand, were weaned on mobile interfaces, the cloud and an ease of use we would have scoffed in our early days. Google Docs perfectly typifies what Gen Z requires for an office suite:

  • It's cloud-based

  • It's incredibly simple to use

  • It offers just the features they need

  • It works on any platform

  • It's free

Let's break these down.

It's cloud-based

This speaks for itself. But, for those who aren't paying attention, Gen Z lives in the cloud. In fact, a good majority of them are working on their documents via the likes of Chromebooks and phones. Because of this, the standard office suite isn't an option. This means cloud-based tools are not an option, but a requirement. Anyone that's used Google Docs knows the service is probably the best cloud-based office suite on the market.

It's incredibly simple to use

No other office suite comes close to the simplicity found in Google Docs. Anyone who says otherwise is either speaking through the filter of familiarity with their tool of choice or hasn't bothered to try Google Docs. 

With regards to simplicity, it doesn't get any easier than Google Docs. This is a core reason why so many young people prefer the service. Unlike other office suites, there's zero learning curve with Google Docs. You log in and start working. If you're using the service from your phone, you simply open that app, and everything is as clear and obvious as it gets. 

Yet another winning feature for Gen Z. 

Of course, that's not to say Gen Z isn't capable of using complex tools—they are. Why bother with complicated software for the simple task of creating a document?

It offers just the features they need

One of the reasons Google Docs enjoys such simplicity is that it doesn't offer a plethora of features. Case in point: to us old school users, Google Docs sometimes seems a bit too bare-bones. That doesn't prevent us from using it, but it certainly makes for an attractive option for younger generations who don't want or need higher-level features found in some office suites. 

Instead of using a feature-full tool, Gen Z simply wants to get their work done efficiently. 

It works on any platform

Because it's cloud-based, Google Docs works on any platform. This is a no-brainer and any office suite that cannot work on any platform is already fighting a losing battle. I've been a LibreOffice user for years, but my usage of that suite has drastically declined because using it in the cloud is an absolute nightmare. Given that LibreOffice still doesn't have a mobile app, it's even farther behind the competition with Gen Z. No mobile, no cloud, no bueno.

No matter how good LibreOffice is, because of its platform limitations, younger generations aren't going to so much as give it a first or second thought.

It's free

This is huge. No matter how simple MS Office 365 is, it cannot best Google Drive's price. Free goes a very long way with students who have next to no budget for the likes of software subscriptions. Even though the free version of Google Drive limits users on storage space, it's still enough for most average users. 

The overwhelming number of tweets that referenced cost as a major factor in their choosing Google Docs made it clear that any paid office suite was already fighting a losing battle.

Conclusion

The conclusion was as easy to draw as any I've ever been tasked to come to. Google Docs is, hands down, the clear winner with younger generations, and there's next to nothing Office 365 can do—short of giving away the service for free. To make matters worse for the competition, the younger generations have little to no incentive to migrate from Google Docs. The only way that generation will adopt another office suite is if, once they enter corporate America, they are forced to use the likes of Office 365 by the company that pays their salary. Even then, there's no reason why they couldn't use Google Docs and export to .docx.

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