The Poor, Neglected Office Suite

Perhaps it’s because desktop productivity applications such as word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software are so ubiquitous and have been around for so long (relatively speaking) that many people take them for granted.

When will our suite be upgraded?

People have been using computers to process words for decades but the ante has been raised significantly in the past five years, as knowledge workers have come to rely upon basic desktop productivity tools to not only provide basic functionality but to either offer or work in concert with applications that support the levels of knowledge sharing and collaboration that are de rigueur in the twenty-first century Knowledge Economy.

Microsoft has long owned what is considered the office suite market although a host of companies have been nipping at its heels, offering everything from free, open-source suites to free online suites.

The two most prominent competitors, OpenOffice.org, which offers the OpenOffice.org Productivity Suite, and Google, which offers the free Google Apps as well as the paid Google Apps Premier Edition, have captured a tiny percentage of Microsoft’s 600 million users yet the amount of mindshare these offerings enjoy goes well beyond their actual market presence.

Many organizations have sat out the last one or two upgrade cycles in both the Microsoft Office and Windows arenas and they also haven’t upgraded their PCs, which, in many cases, may be five years or older.  As a result, the clock is ticking and these organizations will need to make decisions about new office suites this year and next.

While free software may sound appealing, the reality of the situation is quite different.  Since the market for desktop productivity tools is so large, and office suites comprise the single most-used tool or set of tools used by knowledge workers, we decided to put Microsoft Office 2010 under a microscope and see what has changed and how those changes impact the knowledge worker.  In addition, we also dissected and compared Microsoft Office 2010 and its two closest competitors, namely the Google and OpenOffice.org offerings.

We put our findings in the form of two very detailed reports and they are now both available to you online.

Jonathan B. Spira is CEO and Chief Analyst at Basex.

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