OneDrive vs Google Drive – Which Is Best for Office Productivity?

Danny Stieben 27-05-2013

As the push towards web apps has evolved, we’re now met with two powerful cloud solutions — SkyDrive [Broken URL Removed] and Google Drive. These two options offer all the tools needed for file synchronization and office productivity.


However, while both of them can be great, only one of them can be the best solution for office productivity. In order to objectively evaluate which solution is more ideal, we will take a look at which file types can be edited, amount of editing functionality when working on files, compatibility with Microsoft Office as it is still the most used office suite today (despite an increasing emphasis on open source office suites like LibreOffice LibreOffice - A Free Office Suite For Windows, Linux & Mac Read More ), and the ease of sharing files from SkyDrive or Google Drive A Look At Google Drive, Google's Long-Awaited Cloud Storage Service After more than 6 years of rumors and a long-ago cancellation because "files are so 1990", Google Drive is finally here. Coming with 5 GB of free storage space, a Dropbox-like desktop sync client, and... Read More .

Accessing Files

skydrive vs google drive
Both SkyDrive (or more appropriately, Office Web Apps) and Google Drive can edit a number of different formats, including .doc(x), .rtf, .ppt(x), .xls(x), and other commonly used office file formats.

skydrive vs google apps
However, while SkyDrive can edit these files natively, Google Drive requires that you convert them to a Google Drive format before editing them. After you finish editing, you’ll have to re-export the file into the corresponding .doc(x), .ppt(x), .xls(x), etc. Otherwise, if you don’t convert the file, you’ll just have an office file that sits on Google Drive and cannot be edited — just stored or shared. SkyDrive can also edit a few more files than Google Drive.

While Google Drive focuses on documents, presentations, and spreadsheets, SkyDrive can also work on OneNote (which is great for notes and research How SkyDrive And OneNote Web App Can Help Your Online Research I was really excited to learn was that SkyDrive provides you with a free OneNote web app that you can use to do just about everything you do with your desktop OneNote application. When it... Read More ) and other Microsoft Office products’ files. People who are highly invested in the Microsoft Office suite may value this ability.

Winner: SkyDrive


Editing Capabilities

skydrive vs google apps
It’s also very important to be able to do what you need to do with your office files, so the amount of functionality is key. Both SkyDrive and Google Drive offer the basic formatting tools such as fonts, font sizes, bold, italics, underlining, and insertion of links, pictures, and tables.

skydrive vs google apps
However, SkyDrive offers better support for the use of different styles, and Google Drive offers a Research interface, more insertion options such as Google Drawings and comments. SkyDrive doesn’t even offer support for headers and footers, while Google Drive does.

Winner: Google Drive

Compatibility with Microsoft Office

skydrive and google drive
Compatibility is highly important because you want others to be able to read your files. While you won’t be able to be 100% compatible with everyone (unless your document is very simple), it’s best to make sure that your document is compatible with Microsoft Office as it is arguably the standard for office suites, especially in an office environment. Both solutions provide excellent support for Microsoft Office formats, and as such they both are very compatible.


skydrive and google drive
However, Google’s solution cannot be guaranteed to be perfectly compatible, and it’s safe to assume that SkyDrive is virtually perfectly compatible as both SkyDrive and the Office suite both come from Microsoft. Heck, you can even open a file you’re working on in SkyDrive directly into Word if you have it installed. So, while you can generally bet that both solutions will have good compatibility, at the end of the day you have to pick the better one.

Winner: SkyDrive


skydrive and google drive
Once you’re done editing your files, you’ll want to share it with other people so that they can either view and/or edit the document. Google Drive provides excellent sharing options, allowing you to share your documents to anyone with a Google account and assigning a number of different permissions, including view only, edit, and owner permissions. There is also a link you can email people who have permissions, as well as send the link over Gmail, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. The only downside to Google’s sharing features is that others, like yourself, can only edit files that have been converted into a Google format.

skydrive vs google drive
As for SkyDrive, you can also share files to whomever, and allow them to view only or edit, without having to convert the file. It’s straightforward and gets the job done.


Winner: Google Drive

Syncing & Desktop Apps

Of course, as a Windows user you may wish to use the synchronization features offered by both SkyDrive and Google Drive. This can be accomplished via their respective apps. Both apps are available for Windows and Mac OS X, and SkyDrive support is somewhat available in vanilla installations of the Gnome 3.6+ desktop environment.

However, Google Drive’s app also displays files that have been converted to a Google format (double-clicking on these will open your browser) and you can even be selective in which folders you’d like to sync. These features are not available under SkyDrive.

Moreover, Google Drive offers users 15GB of storage space, and SkyDrive offers 7GB. Besides this, both apps synchronize at decent speeds, as you would expect.


Winner: Google Drive


After five different categories, Google Drive wins 3-2, for a number of reasons. First, most office needs boil down to the three common file types — documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Anything besides those are just bells and whistles, or are special needs for some people. Google Drive supports these very well, and it offers plenty of functionality to accomplish a number of tasks.

Compatibility really isn’t an issue as support for the standard file formats is near perfect. Finally, Google Drive offers the best sharing options, and allows you to easily share links to the document via Gmail, Google+, Facebook, or Twitter. SkyDrive offers a decent solution, but the fact that it doesn’t offer as many features while editing is a big turn off for me as it is a major part of what defines “office productivity.” However, there may be other reasons for using SkyDrive anyways Is There a Good Reason To Use Microsoft SkyDrive In Addition To Dropbox & Google Drive? Read More .

You can also check out other great tips and tricks for using Google Drive 7 Tips & Tricks To Get The Most Out Of Google Drive Google Drive is a great service, but installing the Google Drive application and synchronizing some files is just the first step. These tricks will help you take advantage of Google Drive, both on the desktop... Read More  and a keyboard shortcut cheat sheet The Essential Google Drive Keyboard Shortcuts You Need to Know Knowing these Google Drive keyboard shortcuts will make you more efficient and save you tons of time. Read More , as well as find out which solution is best for mobile users Which Is The Mobile Cloud Option For You? iCloud vs. SkyDrive vs. Google Drive It seems the cloud is hard to escape these days - both in your daily tech life, and on websites such as ours. Only last week I wrote an article about cloud-based PowerPoint alternatives, the... Read More .

What solution do you think is the best, and why? What needs to be added next in that solution? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Cloud Storage, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive.

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  1. Gore
    December 11, 2015 at 8:18 am

    Skydrive is much more capable! I used both, and office wise, skydrive is better, using it with 100+ employees and np

  2. Avinash
    October 23, 2013 at 6:05 am

    both solution is best , depends on user .

  3. Avinash
    October 23, 2013 at 6:04 am

    for mobile use skydrive is best ,
    for desktop user goodle drive suites

  4. taymur
    October 8, 2013 at 11:39 am

    btw, Google drive has limits, example for that is Excel 400,000 cell limit in excel sheets, which might not look as major, but most of the times, it tells you that it cant convert the excel sheet to googles format, keeping you with a cloud space for you to store stuff. not really collaborate on getting work done.

  5. Neil Banerjee
    September 23, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Get Google drive and use that email to make a MS account. 15+7= 22. 3/5 + 2/5 = 1
    Best of both worlds.

  6. Joe
    September 21, 2013 at 3:52 am

    This comparison is straight up BS! Skydrive walks all over Google Drive. Google Drive has better editing capabilities? Don't make laugh. The sharing is about equal on both. Whoever wrote this comparison is an idiot. Not to mention Skydrive offers more free storage and a better UI.

  7. Babu
    September 20, 2013 at 6:58 am

    Is it possible to open an MS Excel 2007 file using internet , if I have not installed MS Office on my Laptop?

    I want all the macros and other features like filters to be working.

  8. Brain
    September 18, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    SkyDrive vs Google Drive – Which Is Best for Office Productivity?
    SkyDrive vs Google Drive – Which Is BETTER for Office Productivity?
    You can't use 'BEST' when you are only comparing 2 items.
    Also, there's no such word as 'anyways'.
    Please learn English.

  9. star
    September 11, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    how does xmarks compare ?

  10. Prasad
    July 10, 2013 at 4:38 am

    The writer is highly biased toward G drive. ( nobody is impartial in the web world - there are reasons behind that). In my opinion, Skydrive is the best and the most hassle free cloud storage. Seamless integration with MS Office makes it the best in the market. Libre and Kibre nowhere near MS Office. Why do you want to use an alternative when you can get Word,Excel, PPT and Onenote ?

    • Coast
      August 4, 2013 at 10:06 pm

      I agree. I just started testing both in the last couple of days. I like the setup of Google Drive, but overall, Skydrive seems to work the best. It was very easy to setup files, share them and EDIT them right there online. And folks aren't required to sign-up to do that - although, it appears that Skydrive does require you to sign-up if you are going to create a new folder/file (if I'm not mistaken). I also have issues trying to use G Drive with multiple accounts on the same system (Windows 8) cause the googlesync exec only runs under one user at a time. I had many problems with conflicts between two different users, when closing and opening googlesync from those various accounts - nothing to worry about with Skydrive. Since our little setup requires less than 7GB anyway, I think we'll be fine with Skydrive.

  11. Dave
    June 21, 2013 at 6:26 am

    Interesting, you say "As for SkyDrive, you can also share files to whomever, and allow them to view only or edit, without having to convert the file. It’s straightforward and gets the job done."

    Hmmmm, WITHOUT having to convert and WITHOUT needing the other user to also have a GDrive to convert, yet GDrive wins the honour!! Mate, that makes no sense, clearly SkyDrive wins that little head to head...

  12. null
    June 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    u dont have googledrive app 4 windowsphones
    skydrive is more organized in every manner
    more safe and can also be edited online
    I hav a lumia 820
    its superfast in both uploading and downloading frm skydrive
    while google drive in Note2 is a bit slow on loadin big files
    thats why i prefer Skydrive

  13. Mike
    June 10, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Nice comparison. My only complaint is where you say "... it’s safe to assume that SkyDrive is virtually perfectly compatible." Unfortunately it's not safe to assume that. I've run into just as many formatting issues going from SkyDrive to Office as I have from Google Drive to Office.

  14. Amrish Jhaveri
    June 7, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    The major advantage in using Skydrive is that it offers 7 Gb storages as compared to Gdrive's 5 Gb, otherwise Google drive is the best or may be GOOGLE is best at everything! #Google

  15. suzanne williams
    June 4, 2013 at 6:55 am

    I prefer Google drive

  16. suzanne williams
    June 4, 2013 at 6:53 am
  17. suzanne williams
    June 4, 2013 at 6:51 am

    i prefer using Google drive...

  18. suzanne williams
    June 4, 2013 at 6:50 am

    As it is about comparing Google drive with Sky drive and it depends on preferences i would rather vote for Google drive because the search option in Google drive adds an advantage to it where you can search for the meaning of the words simultaneously while editing or reading an article and moreover for its sharing functionality than Skydrive

  19. Sayon
    June 3, 2013 at 1:46 am

    Can you explain to me how Google wins on sharing when Skydrive also offers exactly all the same features with the added benefit of anonymous user editing?

    "Google Drive provides excellent sharing options, allowing you to share your documents to anyone with a Google account and assigning a number of different permissions, including view only, edit, and owner permissions. There is also a link you can email people who have permissions, as well as send the link over Gmail, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. The only downside to Google’s sharing features is that others, like yourself, can only edit files that have been converted into a Google format"

  20. Damien
    June 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I have a question for Drive users.

    When you share a document, is it mandatory to have a Google account to amend it ?

    I believe it is not the case for Skydrive and it is a huge advantage

  21. Aqil Nazeer
    June 1, 2013 at 9:30 am

    with 1 tb storage

  22. Aqil Nazeer
    June 1, 2013 at 9:30 am

    strongest is my pc

  23. Aqil Nazeer
    June 1, 2013 at 9:29 am

    both equally

  24. Aqil Nazeer
    June 1, 2013 at 9:29 am

    google drive

  25. Aqil Nazeer
    June 1, 2013 at 9:29 am


  26. Adly Asraf
    June 1, 2013 at 8:59 am

    I go for Google Drive. It easy for me by the way.

  27. Aqil Nazeer
    June 1, 2013 at 7:33 am


  28. chip White
    June 1, 2013 at 3:25 am

    google drive is weird

  29. Andrea
    June 1, 2013 at 2:04 am

    I use Skydrive and Google Drive for different purposes.

    I don't sync Google Drive with my computer because it bogs it down, although I haven't tried it in a while. No problems in that respect with SkyDrive.

    For working on docs online, Google Drive works much better for me. Working on docs on SkyDrive is painfully slow in comparison.

    I like Google Drive for sharing and working on docs simultaneously. I have had three of my kids and myself working on one doc at the same time, and Google Drive makes all of the changes without problems. I made the mistake of trying that with my husband on a document on SkyDrive and ended up losing all of my edits.

    I use SkyDrive for files that really need to be in Office format. I use Google Drive for files that need to be shared with and edited by multiple users if format isn't as important.

    • James Ludick
      August 24, 2013 at 7:56 am

      I created numerous documents through Google Drive as they originally allowed me to share the docs with anyone who has the link (without needing to login). Although they still state that anyone with the link need not login, Google have removed this function and I am now losing many viewers of my docs as they do not want to register with google as a requirement to view. THIS IS EXTREMELY ANNOYING! as I have done all this work on Google's false promises!

  30. Paul Mieczkowski
    May 30, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    I am in general a big fan of Microsoft. I work in .net technology on daily basis and enjoy it a lot. I used google drive for a very long time and when i tried skydrive I was like, wow!, how professional apps look, office integration wow!, and quickly migrated my docs to the skydrive. This was a big mistake. Although I converted the files to office format before downloading them locally and uploading to the skydrive, skydrive doesn't handle them properly. There are horrible issues with WORD app. It does not let you highlight the lines you want, cursor goes mental, it's basically unusable. This also happens with natively created apps.

    Now I use dropbox these days, as I don't trust google anymore. Google introduced a number of changes recently that really annoyed me. Picasa is gone, now im forced to use google+. On my blog i've got an interactive map of travel galleries. It takes to google api. After they made picasa redundant, i was not able to set location data for an album, as google+ doesn't have such option (you can only set individual pics' location), which basically broke my map. They no longer offer free business apps. I use online docs extensively and with google's recent moves, in my mind they became a bit unpredictable/unreliable.

    • Danny Stieben
      May 31, 2013 at 6:13 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Paul!

  31. Arxadius Stark
    May 30, 2013 at 11:35 am

    I have to say, ever since Google Drive was released I didn't need to go back to the clunky Microsoft Office. Seriously, even with Windows 8 the Office Suite is horrible!

  32. Ning Ning Sun
    May 29, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    I definitely prefer Skydrive. I have 45 GB of storage there because I am an old user so I get 25 GB as well as getting 20 GB from Office 365.

  33. Clarence Caldsman
    May 29, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Correction: For the Desktop App, it's 25GB if you have been one of the newer Skydrive users. In addition to that, Skydrive's editing Web Apps are simply free versions of Microsoft Office, but online. What did you expect from something simple, basic, and free, compared with an expensive Microsoft Office set.

    • Tina Sieber
      May 31, 2013 at 8:51 pm

      Thanks for the correction, Clarence!

  34. Saurabh Kumar
    May 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I trust Skydrive more...............

  35. Onaje Asheber
    May 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    SkyDrive is the Best!

  36. Daniel Sibisan
    May 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    Just thinking of Google World Wide Hardware Infrastructure, the one that it is used for searches, for gmail and for Google Drive - I suppose all other competitors ar far far behind - it is a good argument of using GDRIVE. If you just need storage, then use other services for back-up, one of this services may by Skydrive, but also or (the last one is the most crypted and safe...)
    If your concern is the lack of privacy that you may have by using Google services... relax... all other providers have the same issues...

  37. James
    May 28, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Odd that you didn't mention SkyDrive offers 25GB, despite what easy research would show, if you used the service prior to the changes they made. For people seeking storage space, that could be a boon.

    • Danny Stieben
      May 31, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      True, but that means not everyone gets 25GB. With Google Drive everyone gets 15GB no matter what.

      • Saptarshi Roy
        June 17, 2013 at 1:53 pm

        Google still hasn't rolled out the unified 15GB for all users; some mailboxes still show the total storage capacity to be a little more than 10 GB. I guess account activity matters.

  38. ashok
    May 28, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    i think sky drive gives u 25 gb of storage. One note itself is a big reason to use skydrive. Just open it on ur wp8 phone or windows 8 and it sync instantly. And I think ur underestimating skydrive sharing and office doc editing ability.

  39. Meidimi
    May 28, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I like both google docs and skydrive but i tend to use google docs mostly on my tab when I'm out of the office then just copy paste on word when I need the info in my office. Where I work most of the sharing is internal so no need for twitter or Facebook options.

  40. Krzysztof Buzko
    May 28, 2013 at 10:04 am

    I used both. I liked Google Drive a lot more. Maybe because i like Google, or just because it's better. SkyDrive is not so intuitive to me.

  41. Miles Cannon
    May 28, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I only now use Google for temporary things, e.g., searching
    I distrust Google for one reason: shutting down a service -- No way here! Ask yourself simply what would you do if Google shut down this service other than transfer your files...Simply note the services Google has shut-down
    Google proudly acts obtuse

    • Degenerated S
      May 29, 2013 at 5:24 pm

      well I dont think that Google would shut down this service as a new era of cloud computing has begun and atleast it wont do so to lose a market share from its competitors..

    • M V
      July 8, 2013 at 9:37 am

      They will not randomly shut down Google Drive, it is simply too big of a deal.

  42. James
    May 28, 2013 at 5:40 am

    I use both and know for fact that skydrive's word web app supports headers and footers. Also it has all the same sharing options as gdrive, but doesn't require a MS account to access. so the fact that you have to have a google account to access something shared on gdrive gives that round to skydrive. Compatibility is a huge issue! the fact that I cant seamlessly switch editing in a web app to a desktop app from gdrive gives another point to skydrive. Skydrive also does allow selective syncing. So based on your categories that makes it 5/5 to skydrive.

  43. Jaypee Cruz
    May 28, 2013 at 4:47 am

    prefer working with my physical computer and have a NAS for my back ups and storage.. .. better and safe :)

    • Jaypee Cruz
      May 28, 2013 at 4:50 am

      also .. i could use remote login tools whenever i wanted to access my files from a different workplace :))

  44. Degenerated S
    May 28, 2013 at 4:29 am

    I dont think google drive is the absolute winner as skydrive offers 25 GB to old users..

  45. Bill L
    May 28, 2013 at 3:04 am

    OneNote via Skydrive + Dropbox got me through grad school.

  46. Vishnu
    May 28, 2013 at 2:20 am

    I prefer Google Drive it sync is just perfect.

    • Mauricio Aviles
      May 29, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      i couldn't say it better myself.

    • Shrenik
      November 2, 2013 at 11:44 am

      Damn right

  47. Brandon Ragoo
    May 28, 2013 at 2:00 am

    Since Skydrive had no header and footer available it was a turn of for me as well since those are two features I require when typing documents.

  48. Febrian Adi
    May 28, 2013 at 1:57 am

    i use both Google Drive and SkyDrive. i use each of them for different purpose.
    i also use DropBox and Copy.

  49. Phuc Ngoc
    May 28, 2013 at 1:26 am

    SkyDrive sync is very slow :( I really hate it.

    • Degenerated S
      May 28, 2013 at 7:23 am

      I guess your system and internet connection are ancient

      • Phuc Ngoc
        May 28, 2013 at 8:57 am

        Hope so, then I wouldn't hate SkyDrive that much. The point here is, when I put a lot of new files into local SkyDrive folder, I have to wait for a long time to see them on the cloud. Trust me, I'm an engineer!

        • Hitesh
          June 7, 2013 at 11:05 am

          You don't have to sync in to local skydrive folder using one extension... Here is tutorial.... youtube com/watch?v=JPXVFtJBZMA

        • Phuc Ngoc
          June 7, 2013 at 11:27 am

          Thank you, Hitesh. It's the large number of files that slows the overall process. But, afaik, in the latest update, SkyDrive has improved its sync performance. It's better now, but not the best of choices.

    • Shrenik
      November 2, 2013 at 11:43 am

      Absolutely correct.
      Skydrive sync is too slow...

  50. LongShot
    May 28, 2013 at 1:15 am

    I still think aftr using both options that Ms version is slightly better if you have people suing windows, office and outlook/hotmail acounts... Else Google willhave the advantage of of sharring and destribution...


  51. Manoj
    May 28, 2013 at 1:14 am

    If these are the only choices .. skydrive is the best.

    • Danny Stieben
      May 31, 2013 at 6:07 pm

      Of course there are more choices, but I just compared those two. What makes you say SkyDrive is better?

  52. dragonmouth
    May 27, 2013 at 7:35 pm

    SkyDrive finished second while Google Drive finished next to last in your test. I think SkyDrive's finish sounds better. /grin/

  53. GamerJunkdotNet
    May 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    I used Google Drive as it was a quick and cheap solution for storing images/videos of my daughter. I moved away from it and put all of that in DropBox. I just can't trust Google anymore. Miscellaneous storage I need in the cloud I use SkyDrive for.

    • Josh
      August 2, 2013 at 10:02 pm

      Ultimately you cannot trust Dropbox either... They have had numerous issues over the last couple years when it comes to security and privacy.

      Also, they are just as weak to prism as Google is, because they are US based and subject to US law.

      Unfortunately, unless you encrypt it before you store it, you may as well assume someone, somewhere can get to what you are storing.

      This is why I encrypt anything sensitive before I upload to any of my cloud services.

  54. ReadandShare
    May 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Are people seriously putting WORK docs in either Google or Sky drive -- unencrypted -- and with access protected only by an email password??? I don't even do that for my personal docs!

    I open/edit/save documents using my desktop office suite (there are plenty of free and paid options). I encrypt (password protect) all sensitive files. They are then synced to my cloud storage -- which provides for a safe offsite storage location as well as 'anywhere' accessibility. And they are encrypted while they reside 'somewhere' in the cloud.

    I would never store sensitive files unencrypted in Skydrive or Google drive!

    • Degenerated S
      May 28, 2013 at 7:26 am

      with 2 step verification ....its much safer than residing in your harddisk ..

    • Danny Stieben
      May 31, 2013 at 6:05 pm

      I don't really have much of an issue with that. Even then, I can just encrypt them in a number of different ways.

      • Saptarshi Roy
        June 17, 2013 at 2:01 pm

        But are services like SkyDrive or Google Drive PRISM-proof (NSA’s global data surveillance program)?

        Also, how about the internal practises of these corporations? Do they have strict data-security policies? [Broken Link Removed]

        Could you throw some light on this?


        • M V
          July 8, 2013 at 9:35 am

          No services from big companies in the States are prism proof.

    • Vaibhav Jandey
      October 16, 2013 at 6:52 am

      I always think the same way.
      While saving/sharing files on cloud storage can be risky, the most risky thing would be to sink these kinda apps to your computer.