Google Apps Premier Edition review

You can choose for bullet points to appear one at a time but there are no facilities for setting delays or saying how words, shapes or pictures appear. Importing a fairly simple Microsoft PowerPoint presentation mangled the bullets, lost all the transitions, animations and speakers notes and let the text run off the bottom of virtually every slide. It was unusable without spending far too much time editing it to fit.


The user interface for all the applications is starkly functional. There are a couple of menus and a row of toolbar buttons. Nothing fancy but quite sensibly arranged. You’ve not got many places to look to find the function you are after, or to find that it doesn’t exist. It can however be confusing that the same command can be called two different thing on different menus; for example, “Change Row…” and “Modify Row Properties…”.

Importing and exporting

Support for importing from and exporting to other packages is basic. Microsoft Office 97-2003 format (doc, xls and ppt) is catered for as are OpenOffice ODF files but Microsoft Office 2007’s OOXML (docx, xlsx and pptx) aren’t supported, nor are the translations particularly accurate. There are far too many features missing from Google Docs to make a good translation of even a moderately complex document. If all you deal in is plain text with simple formatting (bold, italic) and simple headings you can probably import and export documents successfully.

Tables with merged cells, footnotes or just an unusual text colour can all cause problems and Google Docs won’t warn you on importing that you’re not seeing the document as the author intended or on exporting that the recipient won’t see exactly what you wrote. There are also severe limitations on the size of documents you can import. Word-processing documents can only be up to 500KB, presentations up to 10MB (2MB when uploaded from the web) and spreadsheets up to 1MB.


Up to ten people can all edit the same document at the same time (50 for spreadsheets) and any document can be viewed by up to 200 people at once. Spreadsheets and presentations get a “Discuss” or “Chat” pane to allow the collaborators to have an instant message conversation about their changes. It is easy to share documents with other people, you just have to select the document, click the “Share” button and give their email address. They are sent an invitation with a link to the document.

They just have to click the link and, providing they have a Google Docs Account, they can view or edit the document too, depending on the permission you gave them. If they don’t have a Google Account they can only view the document. They would need to sign up to edit it. Of course, even two people editing a document at the same time can tread on each other’s toes. There is a limit to the usefulness of this kind of free collaboration and sometimes you might benefit from something more sophisticated.

Mail and Calendar

Google Mail and Calendar are both distinctly separate offerings, not really integrating into the other Google Apps except that they will all look at the same list of Contacts for sending email, scheduling meetings or sharing documents. Calendar is starkly functional but does let you set up multiple calendars or share them with friends and colleagues.

Mail brands itself as “different” because it gathers all your emails and the replies to them into “conversations” but the user interface is a confusing mishmash of icons, buttons and hyperlinks surrounded by gadgets which implore you to use them to chat to people or invite them to use Google Mail too. Thank goodness that as a paying customer you can turn off the advertising if you want to.


Software subcategoryOffice software


Processor requirementNone

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported?yes
Operating system Windows XP supported?yes
Operating system Linux supported?yes
Operating system Mac OS X supported?yes

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