The Spreadsheet War: Google Sheets vs. Excel

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For the better part of the last several decades, Microsoft Excel has reigned supreme as the program people would turn to. While there have always been other spreadsheet options out there, nothing has attempted to compete head to head with Excel, until the release of Google Sheets. Google has a competitive advantage over other spreadsheet software out there due to it's collaboration features, mobile compatibility and it's ability to connect with a plethora of services. In order to help any casual or business user identify the right solution for their specific needs, it is necessary to compare the pros and cons of these 2 uber popular spreadsheet solutions.

Similarities

Both titles offer similar services. The programs are powerful, capable of handling mathematical calculations, data analysis and compatibility within their respective program suites (Microsoft Office and Google). For basic spreadsheet use, each can do the job but here is where the similarities end.

 Performance

Google is cloud based whereas Excel is locally installed on user's computer, although Office 365 is the latest release that is cloud based. Coupled with this architectural difference is a huge difference in performance between the 2 programs. Since Excel is a desktop software, it is really fast and able to handle hundreds of thousands of records at ease. On the other hand, Google Sheets needs internet to function and is browser based, so it really slows down when there is significant data (for eg. 10K rows with 40 columns in each row)

Standard Tools

While it does make it possible to perform complex calculations, store information and generate coding, Sheets is dwarfed by the tools offered by Excel. When looking at two programs side by side there's no comparison. The latter solution comes with advanced graphs and the flexibility to create your own program extensions called as macros, both of which are yet to be seen in Google Sheets.

Collaboration

This is one area where Google Sheets is an instant hit. An user can share her document with others who can then view and edit it in real time as the original user. This single feature helps improve team productivity who rely on document updates from each of the team members. Thereafter, Office 365 also has introduced collaboration but it does require OneDrive to work.

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Custom Add-ons

project update

Each suite has it's own add-on store where users can download free and paid apps to extend the functionality of their spreadsheet tool. As of the writing of this blog, Excel has 282 add-ons in the Office 365 store within categories such as CRM, Data analytics, education etc. with the most add-ons from financial management and Sales & Marketing categories.

In comparison, Google Sheets has 49 add-ons within categories of Business Tools, Education, Productivity, Social & Communication and Utilities with the maximum add-ons in Business Tools and Productivity categories.

These add-ons are extremely useful to extend the standard functionality, besides fueling the developer economy. For example, using the respective Kloudio add-ons , one can seamlessly connect either Excel or Google Sheets with their corporate database, configure ad-hoc reports, schedule uploads within minutes, all without any IT assistance. Thousands of business users around the globe have become self-sufficient with respect to their data reporting and uploading needs in this way. One can even invoke any external REST API such as Google translate or LinkedIn candidate search all from within Excel or Google Sheets.

Price

For many companies, this is often the deal breaker. Google Sheets is free for individuals and is bundled alongwith Google Apps for Work for a price of $5/user/month for business users. Excel is bundled with Microsoft Office which does not have any free plan. The perpetual license is priced at $230 and the subscription for Office 365 Business edition can be purchased at $8.25/user/month. If you require collaboration, that is another $4.25/user/month as collaboration requires OneDrive to work.

The Right Program For Buyers

Ultimately, only the consumer can decide what program works for their particular needs. However, larger companies in need of more extensive analytical data, security, code creation and tools typically go with Excel. Those who need a simple spreadsheet to track expenses or even a small business just starting out and working collaboratively typically goes with Google Sheets (due to the free price tag).

Summary of features 

 
Category
Google Sheets
Microsoft Excel
Limitations on cells/rows
2 million cells
1,048,576 rows by 16,384 columns
Performance
Great for low volume data (Less than 400,000 cells) Great for even high volume data
Analytics Support/Functions
Great for web based data analysis such as GOOGLETRANSLATE GOOGLEFINANCE, IMPORTHTML Comprehensive and includes a wide array of functions for all possible analysis tasks
Collaboration
Yes Yes, but requires OneDrive
Keyboard Shortcuts
http://bit.ly/2bJekZL http://bit.ly/2c0n6od
Macros
No Yes
Scripting
Apps Script VBA
Add-ons
49, Mostly in business tools and productivity categories  282, Mostly in financial management and Sales & Marketing categories
Price
 Free for individuals. As low as $5/user/month for businesses  $8.25/user/month
Cloud Drive
Google Drive OneDrive

If you have any other questions or comments on this topic or anything related to integrating spreadsheets with data sources for downloading or uploading structured or unstructured data, feel free to contact us below.

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Krishna Bhat
About The Author: Krishna Bhat

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