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Performance - Winner: Draw

Neither Google nor Zoho apps are performance slouches. Both fire up quickly, letting you get to the business of your spreadsheet or word processing without significant delay. However, Zoho takes a second or two longer than Google to get going. While this is not a significant issue, Zoho is noticeably slower. Once up and running, however, there isn't a significant difference in responsiveness when working with documents.

It should be noted that I wasn't even running Google Chrome in my comparison test, which you might think would give Google the edge. At the moment, my preferred browser is Mozilla Firefox 11.0, running on Windows 7 Ultimate and Google still had the load-time edge over Zoho.

One additional thing to note is that Google apps have an automatic save feature that starts to save and update your document as soon you start writing. With Zoho, you need to save your file first and manually thereafter or you edits will be lost.

Sharing/Collaboration - Winner: Google

To be honest, I've not had much call for sharing or collaboration in either Google or Zoho, but I appreciate that this is important to others.

Google has many sharing and publishing options, which vary depending on the app. You've got your normal share by email options, with read only or read/write permissions. There are also moref publishing options, especially in Sheet. So many, in fact, I've given you a screen shot of them below.

Google Spreadsheet Sharing Options

Google Spreadsheet Sharing Options

The range of options for publishing your data may open up new possibilities for sharing your data, an RSS feed for that spreadsheet you're updating? Or direct access to the CSV while continuing to edit in Google Docs?

Zoho also has share-by-email (screenshot below), with the same permission choices. There are also publishing options that let you publish as a web page or embed on your pages. The choice of how you share and/or publish varies depending on the applications in Zoho, just as with Google.

Zoho Sheet Sharing Options

Zoho Sheet Sharing Options

Both companies cover the basics of publishing and sharing well, but I think that Google wins due to the range of options you have for publishing data. Google matches what Zoho can do, and offers more.

Accessibility - Winner: Google

It's important these days to be able access your content while on the move, but this is one place where Zoho seriously disappoints. Zoho will present mobile versions of its apps when it detects mobile device browsers. But it doesn't have downloadable apps for iOS or other mobile OSes other than Android, and then only a few for Google's mobile OS.

The brand-new Docs app is shown in the screenshot below taken from an ASUS Transformer running ICS. Zoho says that it intends to focus more on mobile apps in 2012.

Zoho Docs Android app

Zoho Docs Android app

I don't deny that Zoho's mobile web interface works quite well, but I would have expected to see them develop dedicated apps. On the other hand, Google has mobile apps for both Android and iOS, as well as providing the usual web interface. It seems Google has recognized the importance of accessing data on the move, not really a surprise when you consider it developed Android.

Security - Winner: Draw

The security aspects of both Google and Zoho seem to be similar. Neither encrypt user documents, basically because of the impact on performance that comes with encryption. User account details are encrypted, however. Communication with the servers of both Google and Zoho is done through HTTPS, so they're equal on that score.

Google does however offer two-factor authentication for account logon, while this doesn't seem to be available from Zoho. So this gives Google a slight security edge.

On a side note however, I have to admit I don't trust anyone with my sensitive data. If there are sensitive documents I don't want shared with anyone else, I encrypt them before storing online.

Microsoft Office Integration - Winner: Draw

Both Zoho and Google integrate with Microsoft Office. The Google option, known as Google Cloud Connect, provides a range of features. You can update documents using Microsoft Office and have them sync'd to Google. But there are a range of collaboration and versioning features, too. Check the Google video below for more details.

Zoho has two plugins available for working with Microsoft, one for use with Microsoft Office (video below) and the other for Microsoft Sharepoint. The plugin for Microsoft Office provides similar features to Google's, while the Sharepoint plugin allows documents created in Zoho to be managed in Microsoft Sharepoint.

The Google Cloud Connect solution does seem to have advantages over Zoho's solution. But Zoho supports Sharepoint and Google doesn't. So in this case, we'll call it a draw.

Bottom Line - Winner : Google

  Zoho Productivity Google Docs
Features X X
Performance X X
Sharing/Collaboration   X
Accessibility   X
Security X X
Microsoft Office Integration X X
Total 4 6

In a way I'm disappointed. I started off this article with the idea that Zoho would come up trumps in the battle with Google. But an objective review shows that Google wins, although not by a landslide. With more ties than outright wins, the results show that the two sets of apps are more alike then different. On the other hand, Zoho didn't win any of the categories outright, which is accurately reflected in the final total.

In many cases, the choice between Google and Zoho will come down to preference and frankly, which one you start using first. That's exactly what happened in my case. I started using Zoho during school because of its Polls application and expanded my use from there. And since it continues to meet my needs just fine, I have seen no need to change.

So Google is the winner in this little matchup. But Zoho is still worth consideration if either you're not a fan of Google or like the range of other applications available at Zoho.

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