FreeForm Dynamics: Office suite wars

Dale Vile, research director of Freeform Dynamics has published a very nice study on the use of office suites. Respecting the copyright, I won’t use the research graphics shown in his post, so head on over there to see them.

The research itsself does not bring any big news with regards to marketshares, etc. The new insight to me was the fact that although I did know that OpenOffice was the only office suite outside Microsoft Office with a marketshare larger than all others combined, it also seems it is largely used in companies with less than 10 employees …. 

… There has been a lot of speculation lately about threats to the dominance of Microsoft Office on the desktop. The argument is that the anticipated cost and disruption of upgrading to the latest Office System 2007 release will drive businesses to look at open source alternatives (e.g. OpenOffice) or give up on desktop resident software altogether in favour of software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings (e.g. from Google).

One of the big challenges in researching this area is that there is so much emotion, religion and political advocacy tied up with it, so the truth often gets very distorted. Highly vocal open source advocates, for example, pounce on news of any organisation considering something other than a Microsoft desktop as proof of the beginning of the end of the evil empire. Then we have the hype around Web 2.0 and SaaS, within which separating fact from fiction is extremely difficult. And let’s not forget Microsoft’s huge and powerful marketing machine that is loud enough to make everyone else sound like they are shouting from behind a thick wooden door.

Against this background, how can we get more of a feel for what’s really going on? …

The conclusions confirm Microsoft’s position and I am glad to see also the uptake of Office 2007 :

… To summarise the findings and our analysis:

  • Microsoft Office is still completely dominant for business use, particularly among organisations with more than 10 employees, where it accounts for 90% plus of the current installed base. Anecdotal feedback (in the form of freeform comments elicited during the study) suggests people stick with Microsoft Office for reasons of functionality and compatibility.
  • Businesses are generally either not aware or not interested in SaaS office solutions at the moment. Anecdotal feedback suggests that they just cannot compete with a desktop office suite in terms of convenience, functionality or compatibility right now, which makes any cost related argument somewhat irrelevant. Evolution of rich client Web 2.0 technology may go some way towards dealing with these objections in the future, but there is a huge gap to close here.
  • OpenOffice is the only serious alternative Microsoft Office at the moment, though the evidence suggests that its use is currently focussed on technical enthusiasts and small organisations with a good amount of in-house technical expertise that see the open source route, rightly or wrongly, as a way of saving money on licence fees.
  • Microsoft Office System 2007 looks like it is off to a slow start, but is already on a par with open source alternatives in terms of penetration. This is despite it only being in the market for a matter months, while the leading open source solution, OpenOffice, has been available for years.

Source : ITdirector.com

Peter de Haas
Peter de Haas

Peter is gepassioneerd door de grenzeloze mogelijkheden van technologische vooruitgang. Met meer dan 35 jaar ervaring in de IT heeft hij talloze ontwikkelingen zien opkomen en hun impact op organisaties en mensen meegemaakt. Met een scherp oog voor het identificeren van oplossingen waar anderen alleen problemen zien, is hij een ware expert in digitale transformaties.
Peter helpt individuen, teams en organisaties bij het ontwikkelen van nieuwe vaardigheden en het implementeren van baanbrekende oplossingen. Zijn inzichten en ervaringen maken hem een gewaardeerde bron voor iedereen die de nieuwste technologische trends wil begrijpen en toepassen.

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