Before diving into the detailed comparison between Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel, some things must be cleared categorically. Excel, without a doubt, served as the most widely used spreadsheet software for quite some time. It was the very first high-level program that could handle tabular data perfectly. On the other hand, Google Sheets is relatively new but still promises to deliver par performance, if not more.
Google Sheets is nothing less than a perfect product for anyone who prefers to spend most of their time on a web browser and keep their data over the cloud. The following article will go through all possible aspects of such software programs. Hopefully, it will give you an in-depth face-off between Sheets and Excel.
Google Sheets vs. Microsoft Excel
Please note that this article does not advocate for any software. Instead, it is offered as a tool to identify the most appropriate program for yourself. Here is our article on converting an Excel file to Google Sheets.
Excel tends to take the lead regarding functionality and complicated features because it is developed for a more extended period. The initial releases of Sheets and Excel were more than 30 years apart. That speaks for when Microsoft had to chip in more and more functionality into their spreadsheet software. Besides, it is not just about having additional time to develop advanced features. Excel is designed to be operated on a local system, whereas the entire model of Google Sheets is based on the cloud. It somewhat limits the overall capabilities of Sheets compared to its feature-loaded counterpart.
Google did not have a level playing field in this regard. When you deliver your programs via the internet, there are a lot of restraints over the computational costs. One cannot afford to keep on adding subsidiary features. They had to keep the entire setup minimal while covering a significant chunk of user requirements. Also, the time it takes to complete similar functions and data analysis may favor Excel. It can use the computational powers of your processor, whereas Google Sheets is forced to handle the exact requests through its servers.
Keep in mind that it might end with a simple release of Google Sheets for desktop. It will enable Sheets to still offer its unique features with a new unexplored processing powerhouse on your device. Besides, as user feedback comes into play, Google is expected to shrink this functionality gap over time. Now that you have read through the advantages of Excel in functionality let us move over to the tools mastered by Google Sheets in response.
Knowing that Sheets could never tackle Excel in hands-on features for spreadsheets, Google aptly decided to perfect something else. They realized that their platform being hosted over the internet is a decisive advantage rather than a limitation. So they merged all their cloud-based services into a single ecosystem, Google Workspace, with continuous upgrades. That allowed Google to complete a collaborative overhaul of all its platforms, which was impossible in the past. Browse through the 5 things you need to know about Google Workspace storage.
Over the recent years, everything we used to install locally is slowly and gradually shifting over to internet browsers. It called for a general cohesion between different platforms so that the user benefitted from quick transfers and seamless integrations. Google Sheets has made it possible for its users to share spreadsheets. It even grants access to multiple accounts, enabling entire teams to work collaboratively on a single sheet simultaneously. Thinking with a new perspective allowed the developers at Google Sheets to recast possible drawbacks into huge leads.
While Microsoft has been trying to catch up with new collaborative tools, they are not as advanced as the ones you see in Sheets. Another thing driving people to Sheets in numbers is its integration with Google Drive. Being saved in real-time, the files on Sheets are easily accessible, quickly editable, and can be shared with anyone having a Google account at once.
Formulas & keyboard shortcuts
The most important aspect of a spreadsheet program is its formula base and shortcuts availability. When we put tabular data in any spreadsheet, we expect to have a range of mathematical and organizational functions. That enables quick and easy data analytics and processing. Hence, Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets extensively use such functions and formulas.
Most of the basic formulas you will use on these platforms are similar. They use an equal number of arguments with the same order and syntax. We want to point out that the underlying function implementation can vary considerably. Therefore, you may experience that some formulas run more smoothly in Excel while others feel noticeably inherent on Google Sheets. One more thing is that even though Excel has also announced support for dynamic array formulas, it was released far earlier in Sheets. It certainly improved the outlook of Google Sheets among many regular spreadsheet users.
Knowing some helpful keyboard shortcuts saves a lot of time and effort when you have to deal with larger data sets. Furthermore, since these programs are built upon the same foundational structure of tabular data formats, most of these shortcuts are also equivalent. Therefore, anyone moving from one software to another might not notice the shift. There is one obvious imbalance, however. Google Sheets can only be used through a web browser. Due to that, users struggle with conflicting keyboard shortcuts between Sheets and the browser itself.
Data analysis & automation
At this point, we can classify the Google Sheets and Excel for two different user bases. Excel is more suitable for users who perform highly professional data analysis. On the other hand, Google Sheets seems more reasonable for individuals who need such a program for regular tasks. We can even state that Google Sheets was not developed for data analysis. Even though it meets most expectations, you can still not rely on it for computational spreadsheets that carry hundreds of thousands of data points.
When you create a new file in Google Sheets, it only contains up to 1000 rows. For additional rows, you need to add them manually afterward. Contrary to that, Excel is famous for endless spreadsheets that go on and on in both dimensions. Besides, if you have a lot of data, you are not advised to handle it in a cloud-based application in the first place. That would put you in a situation where you are over-dependent on the internet speeds and connection availability.
Google Sheets vs. Excel – cost & user-friendliness
As soon as we move over to the cost and user-friendliness, Sheets wins over its hefty competitor. Google Sheets is entirely free to use if you do not already know. All you need to start using Sheets is an active Google account, and that’s it. That is not the case with Excel at all. Whether you want to use only Excel or are interested in the entire Microsoft 365 (also known as Microsoft Office), you must subscribe to a monthly or yearly plan.
The family package for Microsoft 365 starts at $100 / year, and the personal package is priced at $70 / year. The former plan is suitable for up to 6 users and supports a maximum of 6 TB of cloud storage. Please note that it has a free online rendition but lacks everything we love about Microsoft Excel.
Now, at last, let us summarize the user-friendliness of each of these programs. Because Excel is filled with a lot more features, you can expect it to be more overwhelming at first. On the contrary, Google Sheets feels a lot more user-friendly and intuitive. Thanks to simple tabs and a minimalistic outlook, you get to be comfortable with the interface as soon as the site launches.
Both Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel have their admirable pros and justified cons. However, it does not mean that they are great for everyone. Based on the differences described above, users can get a well-read idea of which of these products is best suited for their needs. Assuming that you have gone through every point, you now know everything needed to make this choice. Want to explore Sheets to the fullest? Learn how to create QR codes in Google Sheets.