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Forrester Research Shows Steep Decline in Free Office Suite Stats 337

Posted by timothy
from the file-formats-rule-the-world dept.
An anonymous reader writes that although many Linux users (and others) are at home with OpenOffice and LibreOffice, typical organizations are as addicted as ever to MS office formats. In 2011 13% of organizations had OpenOffice variants installed on some computers. Today that number has dipped to 5% according to Forrester Research. ... The poll included [shows totals] over 100% as many organizations have multiple versions of offices installed. Also surprising, Office 2003 is alive kicking and screaming as almost 1/3 of companies and governments still use it even though EOL for Office 2003 ends with XP on the same date! The good news is online cloud-based platforms are gaining traction with Google Docs and Office 365 which are not so tied to Windows on the client."
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Forrester Research Shows Steep Decline in Free Office Suite Stats

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  • Office 365 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:13PM (#45183873) Homepage

    So to avoid locking our data into a Windows-only proprietary format, we'll lock it into a Windows-centric Microsoft-owned cloud? Oh yeah, that's going to work much better.

  • Re:Office 365 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:16PM (#45183895)

    So to avoid locking our data into a Windows-only proprietary format, we'll lock it into a Windows-centric Microsoft-owned proprietary format cloud? Oh yeah, that's going to work much better.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:20PM (#45183929)

    I don't think that's the full reason for the decline, but it didn't help. At first we were pushing Open Office at work, and then one day we had to start pushing Libre Office. So, people would say "What's wrong with Open Office?" and then you say "It's complicated... blah blah blah." And then they say "Okay, we'll just use regular Microsoft Office then."

  • by rudy_wayne (414635) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:29PM (#45184013)

    Office 2003 is alive kicking and screaming as almost 1/3 of companies and governments still use it

    I still use Microsoft Office 2003 and the reasons are simple:

    - It works. Creating a document today isn't any different today than it was in 2003 or 1983. You type stuff onto a page. I have yet to encounter a situation where Office 2003 can't do exactly what I need. Newer versions of Office simply add extra bloat.

    - Microsoft's god awful "ribbon" which has rendered all newer versions of Office unusable.

    - Office 2003 has none of Microsoft's "activation" bullshit.

  • by Goody (23843) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:33PM (#45184055) Journal

    I hated the ribbon at first, but it's actually quite usable once you get accustomed to it. I still think the classic menu is more efficient from a UI standpoint, but saying the ribbon makes Office unusable is unfair.

  • Re:Office 365 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyYar (622222) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:38PM (#45184103)

    As a practical matter, you are "locked in" to whatever Office program you use - online or otherwise. OpenOffice is free and open source, but unless you use it company-wide, you will have compatibility issues with whatever the next guy uses. For instance, if you bring your presentation to the conference room and they don't have OpenOffice installed, then you will have problems (yes, you can use PDF but that has limitations for presentations). Yes, there is no excuse for not installing a free program - except that you may not have Admin rights on the machine or other IT issues.

    At home we tried to use OpenOffice (actually LibreOffice) exclusively. We struggled, mostly with PowerPoint, but also with Word formatting glitches when collaborating. In the end, I sucked it up and loaded MS Office. My wife simply has to be compatible with the rest of the world - same reason I keep one functioning Windows box around. I can RDP into work, so I don't have that need.

  • by Morpf (2683099) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:40PM (#45184123)

    You may call me unfair from now on.

  • Want to fix it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trogre (513942) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:44PM (#45184157) Homepage

    Want to stop the decline? Make a version of LibreOffice or another FOSS odt/odt editor that works on my tablets.

  • Re:Office 365 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:50PM (#45184187) Homepage Journal

    Look at OwnCloud if you want to host your own stuff "in a cloud". But the sales pitch for Office 365 is that they do all the "icky computery" stuff, like backups and upgrades.

    Of course the drawbacks of cloud are well known, too: you need to be online, you need to pay them monthly, and it can be read by anyone with a warrant (or not a warrant, if they're the NSA. )

    Vendor lock-in changes, too. Sure, you can download an Office 365 document to import into Open Office. Today. And just because the TOS says you can today doesn't mean those terms can't be changed tomorrow.

    There's a lot to dislike about cloud solutions. But they sure meet the needs of a lot of people - at least those who don't think about it too much.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @07:57PM (#45184225) Journal

    I find using Office without the ribbon unusable. I can't find where anything is at now.

    Does that mean menus are inferior? No. It means I got used to a different way of doing them.

    Now if you want to argue that I am stupid and do not know how to use a menu I would like to point out I have used Office since the 3.1 days and knew it fairly well before 2008 when my brain still reserved these things in memory as it was important to remember. I also remember hating the hiding function in office 2003 where you had to hid the the arrow to get to anything. I always disabled it after a fresh install back then.

    But the fact of the matter is I can preview changes, make graphical effects and titles, and get to seldomly used functions in a fraction of the time now! Statistics back me up on this too as 80% of users only used 40% of the functions and kept requesting things Office has already been doing for years.

    Do not be offended when I say it is hard to change sometimes, as even people with great computer skills can get stuck with a particular gui like Firefox 3.x for years as it has 100 security exploits at this stage. It took a week for me to get someone productivity with the ribbon. After seeing how I did not need a mouse with the newer keyboard shortcuts which navigate the ribbon with smart tags and I was in bliss.

    Today I am happy feel Office 2010 is the best release.

  • Re:Office 2003 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @08:02PM (#45184261) Journal

    Have you tried Office 2010? Try the ribbon for a week? Afterwards you will see you can preview changes with just a mouse hovering over items. Hit the alt key and you have smart tags showing all the shortcuts with it which is nice with a laptop.

    Office 2010 is much better. I saw the research back then and was exciting to learn something new as real scientist had data to show it is better and statistics back them up with real usage. It is not Metro by a longshot or pushed by marketing folks unlike Windows 8.

    Office 2003 is old and it is a horrible pain in the butt to get to a custom function and will be very insecure after April of next year. I do not want to go back to that release.

    Want a reason to switch? How about file compatibility? You think the .docx of 2013 is compatible and a future manager will be able to read your resume in a few years when Office 2014, 2015, come out? Think again.

  • by ohieaux (2860669) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:13PM (#45184707)

    I find using Office without the ribbon unusable. I can't find where anything is at now.

    Does that mean menus are inferior? No. It means I got used to a different way of doing them.

    Sorry, but after 5+ years of dealing with the ribbon I still regularly use Google to find out how to do something I know I could do in Office. Many of the functions in tools like Excel are not easily found behind the limited ribbon.

    This whole ribbon thing was the start of a bad trend. From Unity to Metro, this dumbing down of the interface to the 3rd grade level shows how organizations see their customers.

  • Re:Office 365 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates (198444) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:15PM (#45184713) Journal

    I just had management freak out over this at my workplace last week. ... even though I am not the damn IT guy at the other company who setup Citrix!...

    Anyway you need to set the default printer and then open it Citrix remote desktop. If it is not default then they call you and expect you to fix another company's system that is remote ... and fix the internet while you are at it.

    Citrix cost some employees their job as IE pops randomly do not go up when it gets busy and they can't read HIPPA documents to customers on the phone. It freezes up even under a light load where the cpu usage is 15% and ram only 40%.

    I hate that thing with a passion and wish VMWare clients were cheaper.

  • by hessian (467078) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:32PM (#45184811) Homepage Journal

    There, I said it.

    I work with documents frequently.

    The open source alternatives are not as good.

    Further, pretty much anything can read/write to .docx format, which is XML-based, so you're definitely not locked in.

    There's just a discernible difference in quality and when you're trying to make a good impression on the job, that's important.

  • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:40PM (#45184843) Homepage Journal

    >saying the ribbon makes Office unusable is unfair.

    People said you just need to get used to the ribbon. Guess what? I has been 6 years now, and I still look for various insert commands on the Insert Ribbon. Where they are not.

  • by asmkm22 (1902712) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:42PM (#45184855)

    None of my clients use open source software, and it has nothing to do with Forrester.

    The fact is, if your business is in an industry where you have to share or read documents that other people send to you (such as anything in contracting, law, real estate, medical, etc), then you kind of have to stick with Microsoft Office. The free stuff just doesn't do a very good job of reading doc and docx formats (and spreadsheets are unusable if they have any macros in them). Yes, a company *could* go with free software and just take a little extra time with formatting and training, and it wouldn't be an issue for most of what they do.

    But why bother? It's just easier and cheaper for them to buy Office and move on with actual work. For that to change, entire industries would have to change, or at least the biggest players in the industries would.

  • Re:Office 365 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @09:50PM (#45184901)

    What is the benefit of cloud-based office software?

    If you work in an enterprise with 1000 users running Office, with cloud-Office all you need to do is give your users a hyperlink. No suites to install, no version management, no software to maintain, no IT staff that you need to keep employed. And if your users collaborate around the country or around the world you don't have all these giant email attachments flying back and forth - It's all in the cloud.

  • Re:Office 365 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @10:09PM (#45184977)

    And the NSA have a copy of everything, so there's no need to back it up yourself.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Sunday October 20, 2013 @10:22PM (#45185039)
    One of the failings of all these free Office suites is that they try to be MS Office and basically if they can be distinguished as being not office then they have failed. So my suggestion is to pretend that there are no existing office suites; what do people want to do? Then you move forward from there. A good start in that direction would be a product that I use called Bean. It is a very simple Mac word writing tool. The focus is on just writing words. It is fast to load, clean of interface, and doesn't do much in the way of formatting. Another good product is Scrivener; this product focuses on what you need when writing a complicated document such as a book.

    Google docs isn't too bad and brings the whole cloud thing to the table fairly well but I just don't see your average document generating office drone begging their IT department to help them with the switch.

    Here is a simple set of examples. Years ago I worked in an office where the secretaries used Word Processors. That is they used machines with big 8 inch floppies that could only do simple 80 characters per line word processing and print it to a printer that was basically a modified typewriter. In the office there was a shiny new IBM machine with Word Perfect and a sort of good quality dot matrix printer. The secretaries were super happy when I got it working and almost immediately were fighting over it. A few years later I witnessed secretaries demanding to upgrade to windows and Word for windows because it could make the new laser printers dance. The key there was that Word Perfect 4.2 for DOS liked to display things in 80 monospaced characters. But a laser printer could do around 132 characters per line and thus a WYSIWYG interface was a huge leap. Keep in mind that all of the above secretaries were very very good at using their previous systems and thus these switches were painful but there was something they wanted so they demanded it and learned it.

    So fast forward to the present and present your average Office user with Open Office. What is the win for them? For most people there is only a loss as things like the bad dictionary, and the slightly different interface will just be a pain. Maybe the CFO is happy with the lowered cost of operating but that is not how you win the hearts and minds of the average user.

    So the key to getting people to switch over to Open Source non Office environments it to offer them something that they really want. The reality is that they will give up many office features and put up with other pain if they are getting something super cool. So matching MS Office feature for feature is not needed in the winning product.

    This is where I come up empty. As I say the simple products like bean are good enough for me. Maybe the solution lay in a cool way to accomplish the work presently being done in the MS office suite using your mobile? Something where all the existing might of MS doesn't get them very far. Plus something truly innovative would no doubt be initially dismissed by MS as "missing the point".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2013 @11:37PM (#45185379)

    I think the answer is staring us all in the face... To appeal to Americans, but yet stay close to Libre in meaning... LibertyOffice. They could use a red, white and blue theme.

  • by Scarletdown (886459) on Monday October 21, 2013 @01:50AM (#45185823) Journal

    Geniune Office 2003 has to be activated. Oh you mean you have the warez version of 2003, ok fair game.
    But the warez versions of office 2007 and 2010 also don't need activation. So I don't get your point.
    Yeah I do get it, you prefer to use pirate software istead oif paying for Office or using a 0 cost free software.

    Who is to say that the GP didn't actually purchase 2003? He could very well have purchased it, but opted to keep it sealed in its package and installed a cracked version instead due to the fact that having to go online and get additional permission to use what you have already paid for is USDA grade A bullshit?

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