Microsoft Office fends off open source OpenOffice and LibreOffice but cloud tools gain ground

Microsoft Office fends off open source OpenOffice and LibreOffice but cloud tools gain ground

Summary: Despite its cost and surfeit of features, Microsoft Office retains a clear lead in enterprise productivity software.


Any threat from free and open-source alternatives such as OpenOffice and LibreOffice to Microsoft Office's hold on enterprise office apps is fading — but cloud tools are on the rise.

Nine out of 10 firms simply give staff the installed version of Office, with only six percent offering some or all employees a non-Microsoft alternative, according to a Forrester survey.

When the research firm last conducted a similar study in 2011, some 13 percent of organisations were using at least one of the open-source Apache OpenOffice variants. That figure has now fallen to five percent of respondents supporting OpenOffice or its LibreOffice fork.

"The past two years have been tumultuous for open-source office productivity. OpenOffice and LibreOffice are still serviceable lightweight alternatives on the desktop, but they have been overshadowed by web-based tools that differentiate with superior support for mobile devices and collaborative document editing," report author and Forrester analyst Philipp Karcher wrote.

Office 2010, which sold faster than any other Office version, still holds sway in most organisations, with 85 percent saying they use it.

Only 22 percent of firms may be on Office 2013 now, but 16 percent plan to upgrade within a year, and a further 20 percent have longer term plans to do so, giving a total of 58 percent using or planning to use the latest version.

Almost seven out of 10 organisations cite the absence of a compelling business case for their decision not to move to Office 2013 to date. Some 16 percent say it costs too much.

Forrester believes the growing use of cloud email could ultimately have an impact on the installed base of office productivity apps.

"Web mail represents a step in changing how firms work. If IT can wean employees off standalone software like Microsoft Outlook and IBM Notes and adopt lightweight, cloud-connected applications for email, they will be part of the way to accepting browser-based document, spreadsheet, and presentation editing tools," Karcher said.

At the moment one in five firms is using cloud email, with a further 25 percent planning a move at some point. Office 365 and Google Apps are in use at almost one in four organisations.

Office 365 leads on 14 percent against Google Apps' nine percent. Forrester attributes Microsoft's lead to Office 365's support for hybrid deployments.

Given the hype about staff using their own tablets and smartphones for work, Forrester is intrigued by the low priority given to multiplatform support for office applications by the 155 survey respondents.

"Most surprising of all, multi-platform support is not a priority. Apps on iOS and Android devices were important to 16 percent of respondents, and support for non-Windows PCs was important to only 11 percent," Karcher wrote.

"For now, most technology decision-makers seem satisfied with leaving employees to self-provision office productivity apps on their smartphones and tablets if they really want them."

According to Forrester, Microsoft Office has more features than most staff need and is expensive to license. But the impetus to switch to low-cost alternatives is being driven by IT, not by employees — many of whom have used Microsoft Office all their lives at home, in school, and at work.

"If they wanted to use alternative tools, they could — and some do choose to complement or replace their use of Office with alternatives. By making their solutions available for free, Apple and Google may slowly win users over, but it will take time."

More on Microsoft Office

Topics: Enterprise Software, Cloud, Consumerization, Microsoft, Open Source

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  • No surprises.

    When it comes to productivity, nothing comes close to MS Office.
    • Yep.

      It just works. ;-)
      • MSFT didn't even try to fend

        Tells you about what kinda product OpenOffice and LibreOffice are.
        • I hate that this is true

          I am a huge believer in FOSS. I use it whenever I can. But you simply cannot survive using anything other than Office. Such is life.
          x I'm tc
          • never would have guessed

            that you're a "huge believer in FOSS" given your previous comments, but who knows...
            I survive using GNU Emacs LaTeX and some bits of LibreOffice or Gnome office at times.
            No bloat and lame tools like MS Office are ever necessary at all.
          • I never use Office

            I don't use Office. I configured LibreOffice as my default .doc editor. All Microsoft products are slow because they are blotted. LibreOffice is fast and I can read a document and edit it and save it before Microsoft Office even opens up. Office is slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow
            Tim Jordan
          • New Rules

            as some of you may have noted,-- a while back msft strong-armed the ISO into accepting their ooxml based "standards" as ISO standartds. this opens up the game,-- to -- cloud services as well as to the Open Software projects. such as LibreOffice -- which come standards on certain popular Linux versiosn,-- Ubuntu, MINT ...

            I have found that LibreOffice version 4 is now much better vis a vis compatibility with msft/office. msft is still a bit deficient though as they are likely to balk at the .odt format -- which should be accepted as the open standard -- although they do take the .docx as formatted by LibreOffice 4 -- in my tests.
        • Microsoft responded by giving it away for free, dude.

          Microsoft is allowing any manufacturer who produces a device with a 10.1" or smaller screen to throw in Office Home & Student for free.
          Tim Jordan
    • when it rather comes to mediocrity

      nothing comes close to the wonderfully incompetent MS Office!
      • Imagine then how awful Libre Office and Open Office and the other

        alternatives are, when they can't even begin to compete against the "mediocrity" and "incompetence" of MS Office.

        Seems to me then that, the only one dealing with mediocrity and incompetence, is you, if you couldn't see how your comments point to how awful those other "competitors" to MS Office are. ;)
        • There is no competition here

          First axiom: most IT "staff" is bribed long ago by Microsoft. You know, free training, free attendance to conferences, free Microsoft software for personal use and enjoyment. Anything, to make these folks "special" and... loyal.

          Second axiom: Anyone who does not want to use Microsoft Office already does. Not a big deal. Those however, not being from the loyal crows were never asked.

          The thing is, that all this is an delusion in which Microsoft lives. Just as with their "mobile strategy". They pretend everything is fine, and... the world goes by.. without Microsoft.

          So, keep the praises coming. We have already watched this movie, but hey -- this is all Microsoft can do.
          • Really?

            I've been in IT for the better part of 30 years and have yet to receive more than a pen or a pad of paper from MS.

            Where so I sign up for the bribes?
  • Microsoft Office fends off open source OpenOffice and LibreOffice but cloud

    Of course, Microsoft Office has all the features you need in an office suite without the hassles of trying to look for them like you find in the open source alternatives. Microsoft also prepared itself to be a leader in the cloud for office applications.
  • I wonder

    Microsoft is allowing any manufacturer who produces a device with a 10.1" or smaller screen to throw in Office Home & Student for free. One wonders whether we're fast approaching the moment when Office Home & Student becomes a free, or very inexpensive product to compete with Open Office and other open source alternatives.

    Microsoft's bread & butter is the enterprise, so as long as they've got that covered they'll be OK.
    • Or it's included into the price of the OS?

      And it's up to OEM's whether they buy that version, so as to have that enticemnt to get people to buy their product?
      • Important distinction too many people miss...

        "Included" is not the same as "free". Microsoft doesn't give away their bread-and-butter software to anybody without a really good reason, however that doesn't stop many people from including that cost in the price of their products.
        • included vs free

          It's included in the $350.00 Asus T100 tablet. At those costs and given what you get for the money, whether it's free or just "rolled in" is basically academic.
    • Re: Microsoft's bread & butter is the enterprise

      What happened to the One Microsoft and the rest of the wishful thinking?
  • Whether accurate, the perception of Libre/Open is that it is a copycat...

    ..and the problem with being a copycat product, regardless of the "free-ness" of it, is that it will always trail behind the real thing..

    In the meantime, the real thing continues to improve and stays ahead of the copycats. For instance, two absolutely killer features have been added to Excel 2013 which bring real improvement to productivity:

    1) FlashFill:

    2) TimeLine Slicers (for PivotTables):

    The common war-cry of open-source fanatics is that LibreOffice/OpenOffice can do 90% of what everyone needs them to do. While that is true, it is usually that missing 10% that makes the biggest difference in user productivity. As long as they are playing catch-up (particularly where spreadsheets are concerned), that 10% will still make "free" too expensive for most businesses.
    • catching you on words

      >> As long as they are playing catch-up (particularly where spreadsheets are concerned)

      Simply not true, gnumeric is allegedly the best spreadsheet software. For statisticians at list. Of course, if you're doing some serious statistics, resort to another free professional software, the R environment. It's the industry standard. AMOF, gnumeric has a plugin for it, and can utilize the R libraries in a pretty seamless fashion.
      Remember also that MS Office is non crossplatform software. This is a huge disadvantage. It is also quite a bloat, recalling that every ARM Windows tablet would have to occupy more than 12gb of space partly thanks to MSO.

      The catch-up game is initiated by Microsoft. Constantly changing formats for the last 20 years.
      Have to say a few words about the Microsoft ways in formulas mark-ups. Word Microsoft Equations is still abominable. The idea to use embedded graphics, pictorial representation for formulas and other complex formatting is just dumb and incompetent. Had recently to deal with this mess. Open or LibreOffice had been using something similar MathML text representation for it for years. It's a piece of cake to convert the latter to the professionally rendered document in (La)TeX, it's a pain in the butt to do it starting from the Microsoft Messy Binary Crap...