Stephanie Hurd

By: Stephanie Hurd on December 30th, 2021

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How Millennials Introduced Google Docs to the Workplace

As a fellow elder millennial, Iliza Shlesinger said, “Gather round Snapchat children, let me tell you the story of the landline.”

Or, in this case, the story of how millennials introduced Google Docs to the workplace.

There was a time when Microsoft Office exclusively ruled the corporate world and still does in many ways. But as the first wave of millennials started entering the professional workforce in the early 2000s, they expected online document sharing and collaboration capabilities.

We were early adopters of the 2006 launch of Google Docs, some simply because it was a free alternative to the pricey Microsoft Office software suite. But we quickly learned to enjoy the benefits of online document sharing and real-time collaboration.

Our workplaces often forced us to use Microsoft Office. And to be fair, the user experience in Microsoft Office desktop software was superior to the online-only Google Docs experience of that era. But Google offered the ability to upload the files we created in MS Word and Excel to Google Docs and Google Sheets, where we could share and collaborate with our peers online and in real-time, a feature Microsoft didn’t offer until 2013.

Enter Microsoft Office Online

Microsoft introduced this online, real-time collaboration functionality in 2013 with their Office Online product. By then, the early adopters of online collaboration were already rooted in the Google ecosystem. These early adopters were young professionals, technology power users, and in industries where gig work and collaboration between remote employees and contractors were commonplace more than a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic brought remote work mainstream – think graphic designers, advertisers, and web developers.

More traditional corporate offices – think bankers, accountants, attorneys – were slower to adopt new technologies, and in 2013 the early adopters in those sectors were just starting to entertain the value in online document collaboration. Microsoft perfectly timed bringing online document collaboration technology to their Microsoft Office suite for these traditional environments, and Microsoft remained king in those spaces.

Today's Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace: Comparable Options

Today, there’s not much difference between the real-time editing and online collaboration functionalities of Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. Your preference probably has a lot to do with which suite of products you used when you first embraced those functions.

Learn more about deciding factors between Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace. 

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