Google Docs is Google's online and free answer to Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint products. Google Docs offers users a word processor, a spreadsheet application and a presentation builder. Users can upload their documents to their Google Docs account, which also allows for online backup plus the interactive sharing of content.
Google Docs is described as Google's "software as a service" office suite. Google Docs also allows its users to save files in many different formats (including .doc, .docx, ODF, HTML, etc.). One really nice feature of Google Docs is the ability to recover old revisions. In fact, users can compare versions side by side, with the edits showing up in a different color.
Finally, Google Docs will backup and save a users work as they are compiling it, which helps users not lose any data or having to worry to click on a Save button all the time.
Internet giant Google started in 1998 as a search engine. Since then it has expanded it offerings include a number of cloud-based and ad-supported products. One of those products is Google Docs, which was launched in 2006. Google Docs' word processor was based on the acquisition of Writely, a basic web-based word processor which also allowed for online collaboration. This was pretty innovative in 2006. Google Spreadsheets launched in 2006 and Google Presentations launched in 2007.
Google Docs is pretty well known. In September 2011, for example, they had over 4.4 million unique users. This number is growing even as competitors such as Zoho and Microsoft ramp up their products.
Google Docs is a solid word processor and spreadsheet application, especially considering it's cloud capabilities and that it is free. However, it is also relatively basic compared to the competing suite offered by Microsoft. For example, spell and grammar checks and the font offerings are not as robust. Word and Excel simply offer more capabilities.
Another downside to Google Docs is that it limits to the amount of storage one can have online (a 1 GB storage quota was announced in January 2011).
Google Docs is easy to jump into and begin using right away, especially for users accustomed to Microsoft Office. One minor irritation is that since the product is online, it will pause at times to backup a user's progress. This interrupts the user's work and they sometimes have to click on the document where they left off to continue typing. These are small annoyances overall. For a free product, Google Docs is not bad.
Like most Google applications, one will need to sign up for or have a registered Google account in order to login and get access.
Google Docs is a free service that offers its users up to 1 GB of storage space for documents. For those requiring more space, they can purchase packages starting at $5/ year for 20 GB and going up to $256/ year for 1 TB.
Google Docs is a great product for anyone who doesn't have money to spend on software but has an internet connection. It helps meet the basic needs to create and share documents and spreadsheets.
For those with a little money, investing in a more robust office suite (i.e. Microsoft's) is a good idea since they will be provided more functionality. Plus, those products just work better.