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If you’ve ever needed to get input from a large number of people, you’re probably already really well acquainted with Google Forms and Microsoft Forms. The two apps offer a similar solution to gathering a lot of data from respondents. If you haven’t run into these apps yet, imagine what you could do with a database of input from members of your organization, stakeholders, customers. or the public. While you may be in contact with your organization on a daily basis, a survey can capture a broader view on bigger issues than you might get otherwise. Today, we’ll offer a comparison of Microsoft Forms and Google Forms to help you know which is right for you.

Feature: Sharing

Forms are a good way of simply and securely conducting surveys, quizzes, and polls. By crafting meaningful questions, forms can generate quite a bit of useful information for you or your organization. The concept is simple: forms are a frontend that you send to your respondents, who then answer the questions. When the form is ready, you just send it to your respondents, who can then answer by visiting a link. Microsoft Forms conveniently generates a QR code to scan and visit the link. Forms made with both apps can be set up to be visited by anyone (if they’re hosted in the cloud), while Google Forms allows you to require an email address if you’d like.

Microsoft 365 also includes the integration of Teams with Forms, meaning that you can create forms directly in your Teams channels. One cool part of this feature is that you can create recurring surveys, which automatically get shared in the channel.

Feature: Writing Questions

Once your respondent gets to the form, they’ll find your questions. These questions can be in many different styles: Multiple Choice, Checkboxes, Dropdown, etc. The question types are basically the same across the two apps, although they have different names. You can see how the less obvious ones work—Microsoft’s Likert and Google’s Multiple Choice Grid, for instance—by setting up some example forms. Be sure to note how they populate the spreadsheet with the answers (discussed more below).

Questions in both apps can have video or other media embedded as well, which is perfect for quizzes that need responses to video, or for gathering feedback on the content in a survey. Setting up a Long Answer (Microsoft) or Paragraph (Google) question with a video can be a great way to collaborate on content with others in your organization.

Feature: Collaboration, and Data Exporting

As mentioned, the information from these forms usually goes to a spreadsheet populated by the responses. Once it’s there, you can work with the data however you need, like you would any other spreadsheet. There are other options that might work for particular kinds of forms, like getting an email of each response, but the main functionality here is to get the responses into a spreadsheet.

In both Forms apps, your data can be exported to Excel or Sheets. I prefer Google Sheets’ integration, because the spreadsheet just ends up in your Google Sheets interface, where it can be worked on in real time. This is helpful if you’re collaborating on building and managing the form and its data, and you can add collaborators the same way that you would anything else in Google Drive. In Sheets, if you wanted to download an offline copy, then you just download the spreadsheet; once it’s on your hard drive it won’t be updated with new responses.

Microsoft Forms’ collaboration and management is a bit more complex, since your Microsoft 365 account sharing and permissions changes how sharing works. For instance, if you create a Form in the Forms app, the “Link with Excel” button will only export a frozen copy of the data (so far). To have a live-updating spreadsheet to collaborate on, you’ll need to create the form in OneDrive or in Excel For the Web. These live documents can be shared within your organization or with other people who have active Microsoft 365 accounts, and sharing or co-authoring a form triggers many different scenarios about who owns the file in their OneDrive if you need to change it.

Feature: Visuals

One of the main things that distinguishes the two apps is the look of the forms they generate. Here, Microsoft stands out for using their “AI” designer, which gives you a wide array of possibilities within a color palette. If you’ve used the “AI” designer for PowerPoint, then you’ll be familiar with the kind of design that it “generates.”

Google Forms, on the other hand, are simply functional when it comes to their looks; you really just choose a background color and go with it. That’s likely not a dealbreaker here, because forms really don’t need to be the place where you deliver wow factor. While it can be nice to look more professional, being familiar with Microsoft’s design principles makes the visual aspects of their forms feel pretty meh.

The Choice is Yours

When it comes down to it, I would expect most users who are more comfortable with one company simply go with what they’re used to. They’re both fully-featured apps, and very few features stand out between one another here. The sharing features and design aspects are probably the two things that most distinguish the apps, but if you don’t feel strongly about the design aspects, it’s probably up to which app has the sharing functionality that you’re more used to. If you already use Sharepoint, for instance, the permissions will be intuitive and familiar instead of needlessly complex.

-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team