Study: Microsoft Office barely used by many employees anymore; companies wasting money licensing Office

“Organizations are wasting money licensing Microsoft Office applications that the majority of employees barely use, a study released this week by application analytics startup SoftWatch has found,” John E. Dunn reports for CIO. “The firm carried out a 3-month analysis of Office suite use in 51 global firms representing 148,500 employees, revealing that seven out of ten employees weren’t using any single application heavily, launching them only for viewing or light editing.”

“The average employee spent only 48 minutes per day using Office, largely the Outlook email client, which consumed about 68 percent of that activity,” Dunn reports. “Excel was in second place with 17 percent, or an average of 8 minutes per day, leaving Word and PowerPoint trailing with only 5 minutes and 2 minutes per day each.”

“What the study seems to be telling us is that the age of the all-purpose Office suite based on monolithic licensing has probably had its day because most users simply don’t use applications often enough to justify the cost,” Dunn reports. “In SoftWatch’s view, the obvious answer is that organisations should start by moving inactive users – 70 percent in the case of Word and 30 percent for Excel – off those applications in favour of cheaper alternatives.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Sleep tight, Satya.

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Apple shows Keynote users more love with significant point update – April 2, 2014
Apple updates iWork for Mac, iOS, and iCloud – April 2, 2014
Associated Press: Don’t overlook Apple’s iWork – March 5, 2014
LAPTOP Magazine reviews Apple’s iWork for OS X: A compelling content creation platform – November 20, 2013
Hands on: Using Apple’s new iWork for iCloud collaboration tools – November 15, 2013
Apple releases next-gen 64-bit iWork and iLife apps for OS X and iOS; free with new Macs and iOS devices – October 22, 2013


  1. Windows = dead
    Windows server = dead
    Office = dead

    That just leaves bing and Xbox. No wonder Billy boy the Gates is dropping MSFT faster than hot potatoes.

    1. Warren Buffett warned Gates in the late 90s and shortly after the turn of the millenia, Bill bailed and now will not own any MS stock in another few years.

      Now who are the suckers buying MS stock?

    2. Server Dead… thats a good one, clearly your not a network admin, or have been living under a rock since The release date for Server 2008.

      Server 2012 R2 is the most fun piece of software that I own.

    3. You may have 1 and 3 correct, but server is still ticking and Azure is going to remain a money maker for them. MS is not going away from the back office anytime soon.

  2. I think about 90% of supposed “Office” needs could be met with WordPad or Google Docs, and about 99.9% with Open Office or Pages.

    In a few years even the brain-dead IT guys are going to realize this and that Cash Cow Office is ground beef.

    1. Google Docs, that seems like a good idea. Google could drop it at any moment and meanwhile they scan every word of everything you write. I’d bet my company on that scenario.

    2. I’m an Excel power user, I’m in it all day long. But if I have to share data I use GoogleDocs.

      I do 95% of my text manipulation in BBEdit and the rest in InDesign.

      I only ever use Word and PowerPoint when someone sends me Word or PowerPoint docs. The DOCX gets immediately imported into InDesign or is copy and pasted into BBEdit. The PPTX gets printed to a PDF then is opened in Illustrator.

  3. We use Office for everything at my place of work, but now that I think about it, we rarely if ever do anything in those Office apps that couldn’t be done in something else. I think the only documents where I regularly see what I would call “advanced features” used are Excel spreadsheets. Certainly the Word documents would work just fine in any other word processor.


        1. “Just buy Excel” = Are you considering a more practical option?

          Just use a Mac and Numbers is free which reads & writes Excel which is good enough for 95+% of users.

  4. I worked in IT in a mostly Mac network and we had a new administrator come in and wanted to move to Windows because the hardware was cheaper. Not even getting into the fact that the windows hardware they were pricing was lower quality, what we would have save on hardware we would of had to put out 10 times that in software licensing just on the server side. There is virtually no need for MS Office anymore, with option like open office or iWork. I would never recommend google docs to anyone due to security issues i.e. google reads all your stuff.

    1. Damian – How did things work out with the new administrator who just arrived from the cave? Did they get their way or did your organization stay with Macs?

      1. We stayed with Mac’s, fortunately one persons ignorance can be trumped buy cold hard numbers and the accountants that understand them. And this was back when OSX server was still $999 for an unlimited client licenses the different would be even bigger now that server is so cheap. We had already done everything we could to save cost including running out main database on linux servers. Our network spanned thousands of pieces of hardware when you count printers, servers, network gear and end user systems over 13 different locations and it was all handled by 5 IT guys. If we went windows I don’ t even want to think of the increase in staff that would be needed.

        1. “If we went windows I don’ t even want to think of the increase in staff that would be needed.”

          that’s why the IT doofus wanted to go with Windows. More employees, more standing, higher salary. With 5 IT people to oversee, he will never qualify for a fancy title.

    2. I just had to buy 400 office licenses for my company. I know about 99% of the company doesn’t even use office. But i bought them anyways.

      Some things are outside of the departments control, others are just pure laziness.

      I work as the IT Manager at a community clinic. We have all windows products. I would buy something else, problem is our EMR vendor is only windows compatible. Our cost for a new Dell is like $250 bucks, I just toss them out when they don’t work. It is really just that simple. Yes i could install an iMac on every desk, then load windows, but then whats the point. Or i setup Terminal servers and have the iMac connect to it. But again whats the point. 99% of my workforce uses an application that is only windows and they do all their work in there. Because of this i am force to buy PCs.

  5. This research is yet another toll of the Bell of Doom, whose sonorous reverberations will prevent Satya from “sleeping tight.”

    Unless, by “sleeping tight” we understand a spirits-induced comatose state. I recommend the Blue Martini — there’s one in Bellevue — and don’t forget the designated driver on the way home, Satya.

  6. Microsoft was extremely successful and profitable back when “apps” mattered. Windows had most of the apps. The Mac platform was at a distinct disadvantage. And “everyone” used Office, whether they wanted to or not.

    Then, the Internet came along. “Applications” slowly became web-based, and accessible using any modern web browser on any platform. “Programs” that run on a specific OS matter less and less. And that’s Microsoft’s double-whammy. Most users no longer need Windows or Office.

    The true irony here is that Apple made apps matter again. On mobile platforms. When the screen is small and processing power more limited, using distinct (optimized) “native” apps provides a much better user experience than web-based apps in a general web browser. And this time, Apple has most of the apps on its iOS platform. Apple has the “app-advantage” and Microsoft has “app-lack.” So, let’s make that a triple-whammy on Microsoft.

  7. I rarely use Microsoft office. I prefer pages. My kids use google docs. Microsoft Office is too expensive, too hard to use functions on it. The version I have on my computer is office 2008. How stupid Balmer is by not putting Office on the iPad immediately. Now those that were using Word have found and alternative and will never go back to paying too much for clunky software that doesn’t work right. Microsoft shot itself. The 80’s and 90’s are gone – change or die.

  8. Who comes up with this stuff? Office rules everywhere you look. Office for iOS rocks and humbles all other comers. Outlook alone is so far ahead of any other application and the ways it interacts with calendar and contacts is unmatched. Love Apple hardware and some parts of OSX but MSFT Office for Mac is simply better than iWorks.

    1. ‘Who comes up with this stuff?’

      DUH! People whose experiences differ from yours–including me. i’ve used MS Office at my employers, and disliked doing so. I now word as a freelance translator/publisher and don’t use Office at all, or bloody Windows either.

      For general office tasks, I use Apple hardware (Mac OS X, iOS), Apple software (mostly Mail, Pages, Numbers, Safari), and Omni Outliner. For formatting publications, I turn to InDesign, with Photoshop, Illustrator and Freehand for the graphics. They fill all my professional needs, and my systems are all MS-free, and always have been.

      I confess to once buying a copy of MS Office, but in mitigation it was an elderly copy of Office 90-something for Mac; it cost about $1 on a junk stall at an Apple Expo, and I bought it ‘cos I needed a couple of the bundled fonts for one of my projects. Never used the crappy apps.

      However, I accept that there are a few who like MS Office (some people do have strange tastes, don’t they!). I, like so many others, neither like it nor need it — how hard is that to understand?

    2. “Love Apple hardware and some parts of OSX but MSFT Office for Mac is simply better than iWorks.”

      This is such a paid comment. Or just a troll.

      Office is not better than iWorks. Excel is the only piece that people really seem to need. Pages is infinitely easier to use than Word & Powerpoint just plain sucks. I only use Outlook because my job requires it, but Mail is much nicer.

      Basically, 3/4 of Office really isn’t needed at all.

  9. Apparently my group is the flip side of these statistics.

    I spend maybe 75% of my day composing in Word, maybe 10% in Excel, an the rest in email or talking on the phone with engineers.

  10. This makes sense. Most people don’t create formatted documents that Word was intended for. We send unformatted text in emails, fill in forms on the web or fill in PDF forms.

    I wonder how much Excel use actually involves calculations? All of the excel sheets I am asked to fill in are just tables or lists that would be better handled some other way. I understand that some people intensively use the calculation functions, just wondering about the rest.

    At this point Office is overkill. The one saving grace it has is ubiquity. I’m not sure that is worth the cost.

  11. Mass delusion going on here.
    Office and M$, like it or not, are not going anywhere.
    The reason? M$ may lack taste and imagination but they have done one key thing right: Ensured Office is ubiquitous.
    In corporations with over 20 employees iWork is a joke. Any IT manager would be mad to trust a company that has no problem ripping out features without warning. But that is what Apple does with alarming regularity.
    PC Magazine:
    “As usual, Apple has put tremendous effort into features that look terrific and make work seem less like drudgery. But for hard-core users who need the raw power that only Office can provide, well…Office is still the only suite that provides it.”
    This is their review of iWork 09 BEFORE Apple decided to dumb it down. Think of the new iWork as Final Cut Pro X; Apple learned the hard way that you can’t jerk around serious professionals… Except that they didn’t learn.
    Sorry folks, Apple is too busy suing Samedung and working on the iPhone 6 to bother taking on M$.
    Office ain’t going anywhere any time soon.

  12. Oh, and if you guys actually took the time to read to the end of the article, surprise!! –
    “SoftWatch currently has agreements with Google Apps resellers….”

  13. I find that I am using Office less and less. I still have to use Word but more and more, I author original work in Scrivener and Pages. For business graphics, I use Scapple for quickly grabbing ideas and for the more heavy-duty stuff, OmniGraffle, which does an excellent job of generating an output of Visio XML files should the client needs to modify any graphics. Likewise, if the client just has to have a Gantt chart, I have OmniPlan that can also generate MS Project output. No complaints so far.

    More and more I find that I am using a client’s copy of Office apps to open files, verify that they work on their standard image computers, and then I exit stage left when the contract is up. No one even blinks when I show up with my Mac. For my money, I think it would be more cost effective to have, on the client’s network, a set of floating licenses, say 15 percent of the workforce, and forego the individual licensed copies.

    There is so much good software out there that is fully compliant with Office but it is generally cheaper and a lot more friendly to use. Using Office is like being forced to eat at McDonalds as opposed to finding that gem of a family restaurant. Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives should do a similar show for software: Apps, Boat Anchors, and Millstones.

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