Interest in Web-based alternatives to Microsoft Office is increasing, but not yet enough to put a major dent in the software giant's market share in the business sector. However, the uptick in interest in rival products, such as Google Apps, is causing some companies to delay upgrading their Microsoft Office accounts while they try out free trials of new products, according to a Forrester research study released yesterday.
“Adoption of alternatives relative to Microsoft Office is paltry, but interest remains high, with more than a quarter of companies actively looking at or experimenting with web-based alternatives,” Forrester’s Matthew Brown noted in the report. “While the free versions of these programs make it easy for companies to try, concerns over user acceptance and compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats continue to hinder broader deployments.”
Of the 150 IT decision makers polled by Forrester, only 3 percent said that they are actively implementing a Web-based alternative to Microsoft Office, according to CNET. However, 10 percent said that they are piloting or experimenting with a rival product, 15 percent indicated that they are actively looking and 44 percent said that they are somewhat interested. Only 27 percent noted that they have no interest in looking at an alternative to the Microsoft Office suite of products.
Respondents who indicated some level of interest in an alternative solution pointed to worker productivity as the primary motivation. Reducing licensing fees and minimizing their dependency on Microsoft were the next two most common motivations for considering a rival product.
Even with the high level of experimenting among companies, Forrester doesn't see Web-based alternatives to Microsoft being a singular, viable solution for most companies.
"Content and collaboration professionals should only consider them as replacements for casual users," CNET quoted Forrester as saying. "However, they can provide complementary collaboration features for all users."
Meanwhile, Microsoft is taking the Web-based movement very seriously. Just last month, the company released the public beta version of its own cloud-based collaboration and communication suite, Office 365. The business-focused Web apps product offers hosted alternatives to Microsoft Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Lync. Office 365 also boasts a number of today's popular collaboration tools, including Instant Messenger, document sharing, email and online meetings.
The suite will be kept in beta for a few months while Microsoft works out all the kinks.
Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.Edited by Rich Steeves
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