About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

Summary: One statistic that Microsoft officials cited on June 15, the day Office 2010 began selling via retail, seemed off to me. According to Microsoft (based on comScore numbers), there are 1 billion copies of Office installed across the globe. Here's the fine print behind that figure.

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One statistic that Microsoft officials cited on June 15, the day Office 2010 began selling via retail, seemed off to me. According to Microsoft (based on comScore numbers), there are 1 billion copies of Office installed across the globe.

Hmmm. Aren't there also just over 1 billion Windows PC users out there? Does that mean every single Windows user also has Office on her/his machine?

I asked Microsoft Business Division Senior Vice President Chris Capossela about the data during the Office 2010 consumer launch party in New York City last night. (To see some shots from the party, check out blogger Long Zheng's pictures of the orange-themed event.)

Capossela said Microsoft and comScore aren't claiming there are 1 billion Office users out there. Instead, the company is now saying they believe there are about 750 million of them worldwide. (That's up from the 500 million figure that Microsoft's Office team has been touting for the past couple of years.)

ComScore is estimating the total number of PCs upon which Office has been installed, which means it includes PCs where Office trialware that may or may not have been upgraded to a full-fledged copy is part of the count, he said. The 1 billion figure also includes pirated versions of Office, as well as situations where individual users have Office running on more than one PC.

"They're doing extrapolations," Capossela said. There's no way they've actually gone and counted what's running on 1 billion PCs, he added.

The comScore Tech Metrix service, which the company launched in 2007, is like the other measurement services. It monitors information from individuals who agree to share tracking data with comScore. The measured Tech Metrix hardware data includes system manufacturer, processor name/type, operating system, service pack, CPU, RAM, hard drive size, CD or DVD drive, screen resolution, video and sound cards, and more. The software tracking includes installed programs and version number, interactive duration, default browser and browser settings, number and size of data files, and multimedia file types.

Other new numbers shared by Microsoft this week include the Redmondians' prediction that more than 100 million consumer and small business PCs will ship with Office 2010 over the next 12 months. That figure includes new PCs preloaded with Office Starter 2010, which is the replacement for Microsoft Works. Capossela said that Works was installed on about 40 million consumer and small business PCs in a typical year.

Another statistic Microsoft is touting is the speed at which Office 2010 users will be able to install the new suite, as compared to previous versions of Office. Using the new "Click-to-Run" streaming technology, customers who decide to install any of the full SKUs will have to wait only one or two minutes to start using Office 2010 (as the rest of the bits stream onto the user's PC behind the scenes). That's a lot quicker than the 15 minutes to hour-plus that Office customers had to wait when installing previous Office releases, including Office 2007.

One last point worth mentioning again: Microsoft said earlier this year it was doing away with cheaper upgrade SKUs with Office 2010.  I agree that it seems crazy counter-intuitive that Microsoft isn't offering its existing Office user base any kind of real deals/incentives to stick with Office in the face of more competition from Google Docs, etc., as well as from the "the Office I have is good enough" syndrome. But that's what the Softies are doing. You've got to hunt a bit for an Office 2010 deal, as my ZDNet colleague Ed Bott noted, but there are some out there.

Topics: Hardware, Collaboration, Microsoft, Software

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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30 comments
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  • I'm confused.

    Microsoft knows how many licenses it has sold, right? I mean, isn't that a fairly accurate number with which to begin your calculations?
    tricktytom
    • RE: About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

      @tricktytom

      I don't think it's that simple. You have to account for installed older versions on new computers, which is tough to account for, especially on older versions which do not require activation.

      And do you count 60 day trials as "installed" versions? According to this article they are. And what about Mac versions of Office? And what about computers that were retired or destroyed after 2 years of use, how do you count them?
      Michael Kelly
    • I too wonder...

      Why Microsoft wasn't queried by the blogger to get a handle on how many licenses they have sold, and to compare that against ComScore's "approximation." But hey, this is zdnet where clickbait is "the thing" to do.
      zkiwi
    • The only figure that counts

      "Microsoft knows how many licenses it has sold, right?"

      But MS needs a win, making up inflated numbers for a press release is all they have.
      Richard Flude
  • RE: About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

    "Another statistic Microsoft is touting is the speed at which Office 2010 users will be able to install the new suite, as compared to previous versions of Office. Using the new ?Click-to-Run? streaming technology, customers who decide to install any of the full SKUs will have to wait only one or two minutes to start using Office 2010 (as the rest of the bits stream onto the user?s PC behind the scenes). That?s a lot quicker than the 15 minutes to hour-plus that Office customers had to wait when installing previous Office releases, including Office 2007."

    That figure is believable. The install experience of "click-to-run" is very fast, and I'm pretty sure it's because it installs a bare-bones version and continues downloading features as the user uses them.

    The install from a DVD also seems very streamlined - it's not much more than selecting a couple of options and waiting for a progress bar. The whole "wizard" idea with the eternally clicking "next" on many screens is pretty much gone.

    I'd say Office's installers should be setting the new standard for [b]any[/b] application that needs an install. It's about time we got away from crazy 10-page wizards.
    CobraA1
    • Unless you actually want to install it to run off the hard drive...

      @CobraA1
      "as the rest of the bits stream onto the users PC behind the scenes"...

      Yeah... real useful... If you want to be forced into keeping the install disc in your PC at all times...

      In the real world, this is as useless as Microsoft.
      i8thecat
    • RE: About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

      @CobraA1

      The only Microsoft installers I've used that are actually worth the code they're written with are the Windows 7 and Office 2007 "Blue" Edition that was floating around on the internet for a while; Windows 7 just asks a couple of questions and goes along it's merry way, and that Office 2007 copy would INSTALL EVERYTHING without asking.

      If the installer would automatically install everything without asking first, then maybe the Wizard could finally retire. Until then, truly easy installs are relegated to the Mac (when the Registry and Package Manager go away, then maybe Windows and Linux users can enjoy drag and drop installation and uninstallation...)
      nix_hed
      • who wants to install every feature they wouldn't use...

        @nix_hed If they want to send a free terabyte hardrive then i could see that happening.
        dougogd@...
  • With a grain of salt

    Our company got some sort of deal (hup.microsoft.com) where I bought a legitimate Office 2010 copy (even before June 15th, odd) for 10 bucks as well as a Visio copy for 10 bucks. I must say, I haven't even installed it, yet, it seemed like such a deal. Given that it appears to me Microsoft is a bit desperate to reclaim the market. (Isn't it at least $399,- for the full-blown package)? Again, this wasn't some sort of shady site but directly from Microsoft. Do they believe that corporate users are somehow going to rip off a company copy anyhow and thus give it away for quasi-free? It struck me as highly unusual.
    rernst99@...
    • RE: About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

      @rolf.ernst@...
      This is a common option (home user program) for employees of companies and organizations (HP, US Military, etc) that have large volume licenses for Microsoft products. This isn't a new desparate attempt to reclaim market share either, as it's been around for several years (and many iterations of MS software). I have the same deal through work, as does my wife.

      I have to agree, it is a great program to get people using MS software, and is one of the key reasons I use MS software rather than a free version. :)
      kevsor1@...
    • RE: About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

      @rolf.ernst@...

      It is a great deal when you can take advantage of it, but ...

      As kevsor says, variations of the HUP have been around for a long time. I first ran into it when my office was upgrading to Office 97. People who had taken advantage of the program in the previous version were suddenly SOL. The HUP was no longer valid for Office 97 and officially, since the company site license had been upgraded the home users were no longer licensed and if they wanted to continue running Office at home they were supposed to buy a full version. In other words, at that point in time it became a "bait and switch".

      Note: if you ever leave the company according to MS rules you will no longer be allowed to run that HUP copy, you too will have to buy your own full license. But, till then it is a great deal.
      Ron_007
  • Bulk Discount "Bargain-Barn" MS Office

    The biggest reason asking MS for a count won't work is because most MS software products are volume licensed desktops. A company can buy a license to install 1000 or 10000 Windows and/or Office installs for all of their office machines. There isn't a requirement to actually install all of those licensed. Call it a "desktop copy-charge". Company I work for has a 5000 unit license(s) for Windows Vista and MS Office 2007. We don't have that many desktops but its cheaper sometimes to buy more than needed just to have the flexibility. The more you buy, the cheaper per unit it is to install. Sometimes its cheaper to buy a "bulk license" than exactly what you need. It might also keep you from getting BSA audited.
    mileswade
  • RE: About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

    Maybe the reason MS do not offer a discount to upgrade to Office 2010 is because they are attempting (under competitive pressure) to move away from the traditional software purchase model to usage models that in the long term may continue to fill their coffers?
    napierwi
  • RE: About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

    I guess the moral of the story is "Never believe statistics unless you falsified them yourself".

    The corollary to this is "Another useless statistic is fabricated every three seconds, including this one!"

    Why don't they just say Microsoft Office still is the predominate office productivity suite on the market and leave it at that. Quoting fabricated statistics just makes them look bad.

    Not offering an upgrade incentive for Office 2007 licensed users also makes them look bad... or does it?

    The productivity boosts my people got from moving from action menu based Office 2003 to process ribbon based Office 2007 was huge and the time saving meant the ROI was only a matter of weeks. If we can see the same kind of gains in time saving and additional functionality again, then Office 2010 will be worth every penny and doesn't need to offer a special discount (essentially cheapening and devaluing their own product).
    jbmetrics
  • They don't need an incentive.

    It looks as though the vast magority of people want MS over "competing" apps, regardless.
    John Zern
    • Then why do it, John

      Sounds like a monopoly that isn't terrible secure about their monopoly. If they were, then according to you this would be a non-story and they wouldn't have to FUD their figures.
      ubiquitous one
  • Installs doesn't mean usage

    Every car comes with a cigarette lighter too.

    Between work and home I have about 5 Windows computers, not counting single boxes with several separately bootable disks. Between Office 97, 2007 Home & Student and 2007 Professional I have about 7 installs of Office. I basically don't do presentations or spreadsheets, and my wordprocessor of choice is WordPerfect. I basically just use Word to print documents received from clients or when I'm sending documents I save them from WordPerfect to RTF and then import that into 2007 and save as Word 97-2003 format. So, yeah, I have about 7 Office installs, but I rarely use any of them.
    Rick_R
    • Say it ain't so, Mary Jo!

      According to M$ philosophy, every CD-ROM that leaves the factory and sits on the shelf in the warehouses, counts as a sale.<br><br>Every unused key generated in their database also counts as a sale. Never mind that no money has been exchanged at the cash register or the key hasn't been activated.<br><br>It's typical, arrogant corporate 'reasoning', as usual...
      ubiquitous one
    • cigarette lighters WERE once the standard but not any more...

      @Rick_R
      That WAS once the case, but in the last 10 years, car companies have been getting quite cheap in that respect. For instance, my 1999 Honda Civic has a lighter SOCKET - but the car didn't come with a lighter - just a plastic cover over the socket. Come think of it - the car did NOT come with any ashtrays either. From what I've been able to divulge from research - ash trays and cig lighters were an option that required a different console. One that when I got the car was no longer available.

      I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume that other car companies are doing the same. Smoking isn't quite as popular as it once was. Leaving out the lighter, ash trays and such is less expensive to make and increases their profit margin. They include the port for the obvious - charging cell phones and the like.
      Wolfie2K3
  • RE: About that 1 billion Microsoft Office figure ...

    I have to laugh about their unwillingness to cut Office users any kind of deal.

    Can you say "Microsoft shoots themselves in the foot"?

    Sure...I knew you could.

    The OpenOffice suite is FREE, and provides ALL the functionality of MS Office, and can create, read and modify ALL document formats that MS Office uses.

    I ask all of you who read this....why are you shelling out hundreds of dollars for MS Office, when you could have a program for free that has the same functionalities and features as the Microsoft Office Suite?

    Seriously, I feel that people who want to throw their cash at MS on such a thing should go take several hundred-dollar bills out into the street, burn them, and toss the ashes to the wind. It makes just as much sense to do that, as it does to use the overpriced bloatware that is MS Office.
    OfficeGod