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Google Docs vs. Zoho

We've looked at Zoho here recently. But now it's time to delve into a bit more detail about Zoho's productivity ("office") applications and how they compare with Google Docs.

Google Docs

Apart from Microsoft, Google is probably the best known provider of online productivity applications. Google had a slow start, but seems to have put real effort into developing its suite in the past few years. The current crop of apps includes Documents (word processor), Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form, Drawing and the Table apps. The Collections menu option lets you group documents into folders.

Google Docs Features

Google Docs Features

Zoho Productivity

Zoho's productivity apps have generally all been around since Zoho's inception, with only minor upgrades along the way. The newest addition is Microsoft Sharepoint integration, although Zoho has had a plugin for Microsoft Office for as long as I can remember.

Zoho Productivity Features

Zoho Productivity Features

As we've done in other comparison articles, I'll compare Zoho and Google on a handful of attributes, then present a final score at the end.

Features - Winner: Draw

Comparing features between the two is a bit difficult, because Google and Zoho's apps don't exactly line up. In purely numeric terms, however, Zoho wins, but there's more to the comprison than that.

The Zoho word processing app (Writer) seems to provide a greater set of features, such as the 'Mailings' feature that's akin to Microsoft Word Mail Merge function. The following are a couple of screen shots of the apps, to give you a flavor of what the user interfaces look like.

Zoho Writer Word Processing App

Zoho Writer Word Processing App

Google Documents Word Processing app

Google Documents Word Processing app

There's not much difference between the Spreadsheet applications, with Zoho allowing macros but Google having the integration of 'Gadgets' and other useful features. One sticking point if you're UK based and trying to use Zoho is that date input in UK format is not allowed. You can set display in UK format, however.

Zoho does not have a drawing application, but Google does—a definite plus for Google. But many of the features in Google Drawings are available in Zoho's Show presentation app.

Zoho has Planner and Notebook apps while Google does not. (Google killed off its Notebook app some time ago.) Zoho Planner can be a handy organization tool with reminders, while Notebook allows you to organize a range of content on Notebook "pages".

Google has Forms, which is useful for getting online feedback. Although not listed under Productivity, Zoho Polls provides similar features.

While the general interface for Google Docs is more polished, Zoho has a more tightly integrated solution through its desktop view shown below, which is a plus over Google.

Zoho desktop

Zoho desktop

Both suites can view and import many file types, which are summarized below. Google appears to have an edge here, particularly for graphic files like Photoshop, AutoCad and others.

Supported file formats

Supported file formats

Table 1 compares the apps available for Zoho and Google. But, as I've noted, this doesn't tell the whole story. The bottom line is that both sets of apps will provide all the features most basic and intermediate users of Microsoft's Office apps will ever want to use.

Zoho Productivity Google Docs
Writer Document
Sheet Spreadsheet
- Drawing
Polls Form
Show Presentation
- Table
Calendar Calendar
Planner -
Viewer Document
Notebook -
Table 1: Productivity Apps comparison

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