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Study: OpenOffice five times more popular than Google Docs

But both still lag behind Microsoft, which hopes to cement its lead with Office Web

By Eric Lai
November 14, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Confirming recent comments by Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer, an independent study released Friday found OpenOffice.org's free office suite to be five times more popular among adult U.S. Internet users than Google Docs.

Microsoft Office remains dominant, with 51% of U.S. Internet users over age 18 using it, according to a six-month study conducted by market research firm ClickStream Technologies PLC.

OpenOffice.org was used by 5% of people, versus Google Docs' 1%, according to the survey of 2,400 users on their home PCs conducted between May and November of this year. OpenOffice.org was also found to be used more often, 8.7 days, versus 1.5 days; and longer, for an average of 9.3 minutes, versus 3.4 minutes for Google Docs, according to ClickStream's panel members, two-thirds of whom were women.

During a keynote speech at a Gartner Inc. conference last month, Ballmer said, "We have better competition today than Google Docs and Spreadsheets. We get more competition from OpenOffice and StarOffice, frankly."

Microsoft hopes to cement that domination with its upcoming Office Web, as well as online versions of its Exchange and SharePoint products to be announced on Monday.

OpenOffice.org may provide some resistance, however. The latest version, OpenOffice.org 3.0, had a strong first week in October, with more than 3 million downloads. After one month, OpenOffice.org 3.0 had been downloaded 10 million times, the group said.

ClickStream also found that 68% of Google Docs or Spreadsheets users also used Microsoft Word at least once, "indicating that Google Docs has yet to be considered a stand-alone product by most of its users."

In contrast, 74% of OpenOffice users didn't use Word at all.

"Although Google Docs and Spreadsheets has been touted as a potential competitor to the Microsoft Office Suite, OpenOffice is currently the more likely app to take that position, possibly indicating the value of offline and local processing enabled by installed applications," said ClickStream.

A Google Inc. spokesman said in response to ClickStream's finding, "Google Docs has millions of active users and hosts tens of millions of documents. It has seen strong and steady growth since it launched two years ago as people have increasingly shifted to the cloud in order to access and collaborate on documents online."

ClickStream's figures are not surprising. An NPD Group Inc. survey reported similar findings last year.

But the ClickStream findings may arouse some skepticism. The company's CEO, Cameron Turner, formerly worked at Microsoft doing similar market research on Microsoft Office and its competitors.

Turner said ClickStream was not paid by Microsoft to conduct this study.

He added that ClickStream does paid research projects for a number of software vendors, including Microsoft and a major competitor, Adobe Systems Inc. It also monitors the use of Mac and Linux software.



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