In 2010, when McNicholas High School first entered the technology revolution, the staff had a hard decision to make. Would they use a Google Platform or a Microsoft Platform? Microsoft won, and McNick identified as a Microsoft school. Since then, everything has been through Microsoft, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.
But why Microsoft and not Google? “Google does not have as big a presence in the business world as Microsoft,” Director of Technology Andy Ey said. Another deciding factor was because “Microsoft has OneNote,” Director of Educational Technology Emily Materna said. “The teachers are really dependent on OneNote, and the teachers here use it so much that I don’t think there is anything to replace that.”
Although the teachers seem to benefit from Microsoft, students don’t necessarily agree. In a recent Milestone survey, 60% of students who responded said they think Google is better than Microsoft. The responses ranged from “Google is more organized and easier to operate,” to “It’s easy to share documents with teachers and classmates.” And as the results show, 55% of the respondents came from schools who used Google-based programs.
Materna thinks that elementary schools primarily use Google due to the fact that, “For elementary use, they [the elementary schools] don’t really need all of the features that we [McNick] do. A Chromebook is suitable for elementary.” Since high school is more advanced in its technology courses and needs more features, Microsoft seems better suited for higher level education.
That still doesn’t change the fact that over half of the students who responded to the Milestone survey prefer Google, and for various reasons. “Google auto-saves my work, so on those late night papers when I forget to save it, it auto-saves it for me,” senior Caden Conrad said.
“While Windows 10 may have more features, but Google has minimized and simplified their systems for easy use” freshman Quinn Galocy said. Many responses touched on the fact that Google is compatible with more websites, and can therefore work faster.
On the other side, a handful of students actually prefer Microsoft. Freshman Christian Burt said, “I think Microsoft is cleaner and more organized; Google is better for non-school purposes.” Senior William Garvin agrees: “Microsoft is a software company; they make software products, which are very good in quality. What we have right now is fine and affordable.”
Unless Google can create some sort of program to compete with OneNote, McNicholas High School won’t be switching to a different platform anytime soon. Although the COVID-19 pandemic forced both companies to upgrade their programs and products, Microsoft’s are more impressive and impactful than Google’s. For example, before the pandemic began, when using TEAMS, only 4 people could be viewed at one time. Now, users can see up to 250 on one screen at a time. If Google did manage to make itself equal with Microsoft from an education-focused perspective, the decision would have to be carefully considered. Until then, McNick will stay a Microsoft school.