Microsoft Office vs Apple iWork vs Google Docs: which is best?

Apple has also made iWork for iCloud available, and this suite moves Pages, Keynote and Numbers into the cloud, to be worked on and accessed totally via the web browser. (This works on either Windows or OS X devices, of course). Adding this brings Apple in line with Google and Microsoft, but the depth of services offered by Apple is currently not as impressive.

Office 365

Office 365 has been pretty well received, on the whole

Strength of Redmond

As the behemoth of office applications, Microsoft's software is likely the strongest and will, ultimately, serve you best if you are a normal customer or a business. With the addition of Office 365 last year – and the frequent upgrades to both features and infrastructure – Microsoft has pulled ahead of both Apple and Google's offerings.

For a monthly, or yearly fee, Office 365 will enable downloads of Office and a fully-formed cloud suite which syncs between all devices that are logged into your Microsoft account.

Google Docs works in a similar way to Office 365 and iWork for iCloud, minus the ability to work offline (unless, as previously mentioned, you use Chrome and can put up with some missing features). That said, this may not be an issue in a city or home anyway, as Wi-Fi or fast mobile connections are generally always available.

Closely fought battle

Ultimately, all three companies offer solutions that work well and enable you to produce the content you need, either for personal or business reasons. Unlike in the past, the three companies are becoming increasingly open about who can use their services.

Apple's iWork for iCloud works on Windows machines and Office for iPad was recently announced, bringing the option of using a Microsoft product onto an iOS device. The only hitch is that Microsoft doesn't allowing saving in Pages, Keynote or Numbers file formats which can preclude sharing, although the iWork suite is happy to work with Word, PowerPoint and Excel files.

If a winner must be decided, then Microsoft comes out on top. The company's almost eternal focus on office applications works in its favour, as Redmond's suite is the most rounded and offers the best features overall, both online and offline.

If you're already tied up in the Apple universe, iWork is best, and the same is true if you're heavily invested in Google's ecosystem, if you can handle the offline restrictions in the latter case.

Max Slater-Robins has been writing about technology for nearly a decade at various outlets, covering the rise of the technology giants, trends in enterprise and SaaS companies, and much more besides. Originally from Suffolk, he currently lives in London and likes a good night out and walks in the countryside.