Microsoft Office squashes Google Apps, open source alternatives

Google may dream that Google Docs will one day rival Microsoft Office but a recent Forrester report makes it clear that's only a dream. Especially in enterprises, Microsoft Office remains the gold standard, and Google Docs and others mere also-rans.

Forrester's Office 2013 And Productivity Suite Alternatives surveyed 155 Forrester clients that use Microsoft Office, to see whether alternatives such as Google Docs and open source suites are making headway. The answer is clearly no. Google Docs is only being used in 13% of companies. And only 5% support open source alternatives to Office. That number has been declining -- in 2011 13% supported open source alternatives.

Forrester's Phil Karcher writes:

"Microsoft continues to have a stranglehold on office productivity in the enterprise: Just 6% of companies in our survey give all or some employees an alternative instead of the installed version of Microsoft Office."

Office 2010 is the overwhelming favorite version of Office, with 85% of companies using it. At the moment, only 22% of companies use Office 2013, although 36% plan to move to it. Many companies support multiple versions of Office.

There's more good news for Microsoft as well -- companies don't particularly care if an Office suite is available on multiple devices aside from Windows PCs, such as Android and iOS. Karcher says:

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

Google Docs works cross-platform, and Office as of yet doesn't. So Google Docs' biggest differentiator simply doesn't matter to enterprises.

The upshot of all this? For the foreseeable future, Microsoft will continue to dominate Office suites, and Google and open source alternatives will remain also-rans.

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