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posted by martyb on Saturday May 03 2014, @05:14PM   Printer-friendly
from the most-employees-are-not-in-Office-most-of-the-day dept.

A recent article in PCWorld reveals that many companies are simply throwing money away:

Organisations 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. Conclusion: many users could easly be migrated to far cheaper cloud applications such as Google Apps.

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. 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.

That email is popular and spreadsheets and presentations less so is not a surprise. The latter are occasional applications that non-specialist employees use only when they really have to and their importance can't necessarily be measured in terms of how often they are used so much as the impact that use has.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Subsentient on Saturday May 03 2014, @05:37PM

    by Subsentient (1111) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 03 2014, @05:37PM (#39281) Homepage Journal

    And avoid all the cloud eeeeevil.

    --
    "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." -Jiddu Krishnamurti
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Nerdfest on Saturday May 03 2014, @07:15PM

      by Nerdfest (80) on Saturday May 03 2014, @07:15PM (#39304)

      My development team has been running Linux (Ubuntu) for the last 3 years now as a pilot project. We do have a Windows VM running the corporate Windows install available, but there's only one application that it's required for, other than IE testing. To my knowledge, nobody has used any Microsoft applications at all. Perhaps professional editors or similar might need some features that LibreOffice doesn't have, but your average (and well above average) office worker is unlikely to need them.

      Personally, I use it for LibreOffice for my own documents (resumes, course papers, etc) with some fairly advanced formatting. I find the editor handles styles and most things at least as well as Word. I don't have daily use for spreadsheets, but the LibreOffice application has done everything I've required of it, and even runs all the Excel macros that I've run across.

      Large organizations should realize that extracting themselves from Microsoft (Office and IE) is the first step is unlocking themselves from Microsoft and allowing then top open up options like Linux or Mac. Until they do it, it will very difficult.

      The sad part is, iOS has even more lock-in because of the hardware lock, and people are eating that up as well. I guess it works up until they do something you don't like (Windows 8), and which point you're screwed. Most people don't think that far ahead though.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03 2014, @09:04PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03 2014, @09:04PM (#39324)

        even runs all the Excel macros that I've run across

        As news goes, this is pretty old.
        Going back to 2006, Go-oo, Novell's fork of OOo, had good VBA support.
        Noel Powers was the dev who got the most-used stuff working first.

        will any Excel macro work in Calc? [linux.com]

        'No,' Noel said, 'support for VBA is not complete, but we think we cover a large portion of the common usage patterns.
        Those macros that we've come across mostly use a manageable subset of objects in the Excel API
        (such as the Range, Worksheet, Workbook, etc.).
        We have concentrated on supporting those objects, and the most commonly used method/properties of those objects

        VBA support was folded into the main trunk fairly quickly.

        -- gewg_

      • (Score: 3) by frojack on Saturday May 03 2014, @09:05PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 03 2014, @09:05PM (#39325) Journal

        Pretty much the same here, I've been off of Microsoft Office products for over 10 years now. OO and LO solve every issue.

        I know many of my customers in corporate and government offices and get into Outlook in the morning, and stay there all day. Every document, spreadsheet, email, note, reminder they touch is done directly inside of Outlook. They literally do not know how to do anything on their computers, and are helpless without outlook running.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2, Insightful) by jim302 on Sunday May 04 2014, @12:22AM

          by jim302 (582) on Sunday May 04 2014, @12:22AM (#39347)

          Speaking of Outlook (and Exchange), these seem to be the biggest barrier to LibreOffice for a lot of companies. I haven't owned a license for Microsoft Office since Office 2000... I switched to OpenOffice.org so I could have something cross platform when dual booting between Linux and Windows. Over the years, compatibility with Microsoft Office and overall functionality & reliability have improved greatly, especially since the LibreOffice fork. Compatibility with Office isn't perfect, but even Office itself has issues between versions.

          I can get by without Outlook - IMAP and CalDAV clients are good enough for me. However, it is hard to deny that calendar sharing and mobile device synchronization work pretty darn well with Exchange (email is just OK - nothing special there). The desktop version of Outlook is by far the most functional Exchange client. Zimbra is not bad, but has never taken off... the previous Yahoo ownership did not do it any favors (especially when it looked like Microsoft might acquire Yahoo). VMware never really pushed the product. Time will tell what the new owners do with it. It is hard to have a lot of long term confidence in a product that has been passed around between owners like this, so gaining market share will be difficult.

          Better competition with Exchange and Outlook would make open source solutions such as LibreOffice much more practical. While it is possible to get Outlook by itself, most people seem to just buy the whole suite. Exchange isn't perfect but it is easy enough to install and manage, and if it ever has issues, documentation and support are easy to find.

  • (Score: 1, Redundant) by marcello_dl on Saturday May 03 2014, @05:42PM

    by marcello_dl (2685) on Saturday May 03 2014, @05:42PM (#39283)

    What about libre/openoffice instead?

    Question: what is the internet used for?
    A: It is used to replace the mainframe. Google & c. as the new microsoft. They don't need to close down the software because they own the infrastructure.

    Q: what is the internet needed for?
    A: the exchange of DATA. The data can then be processed in different environments by software tailored for that environment, with the interface tailored for that environment. Guys it's the internet 1.0, the one that actually worked, plus a debian like system to get and deploy apps in a safe and free way.

    Web apps can be part to this model too, as the guys at unhosted [unhosted.org] know.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04 2014, @01:39AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 04 2014, @01:39AM (#39359)

      Gmail just got worse. Now if you want to send a file over 25MB it asks you to use Google drive or something (which requires setting your privacy preferences or something, who knows how that works and how I can just send a simple one to one e-mail without having it set to share it to everyone in between on Google drive or if I must change a privacy setting) and even then there are limitations if you don't pay.

      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Monday May 05 2014, @03:27PM

        by urza9814 (3954) on Monday May 05 2014, @03:27PM (#39818) Journal

        How is that worse? 25MB was always the attachment size limit in Gmail. So instead of simply rejecting the attachment, they're now offering to transfer it via Drive. Sure, Drive sucks, but it's better than nothing at all...

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Tork on Saturday May 03 2014, @06:04PM

    by Tork (3914) on Saturday May 03 2014, @06:04PM (#39287)
    Office's entire purpose on this planet is communication. The reason a whole company uses it is so when one employee receives a document from another, it is rendered exactly as intended. Teasing aside from the anecdotal stories about how Office messed something up, frequency of use of these applications is not a measurement of money wasted. If my job doesn't require me to use Excel every day, but once quarter an executive sends me a spreadsheet I need to review, then Office has earned its keep.

    I'm sorry but you'll have to find another approach to support your agenda. The reason my company doesn't use Office is the alternatives have advantages that work in our favor. Maybe you should focus on the positive benefits instead of 'well leaving it wont hurt as much as you think.'
    --
    Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by cbiltcliffe on Saturday May 03 2014, @10:16PM

      by cbiltcliffe (1659) on Saturday May 03 2014, @10:16PM (#39333)

      The reason a whole company uses it is so when one employee receives a document from another, it is rendered exactly as intended.

      As long as you all have the same default printer driver, sure. What happens when you don't? Word completely changes its formatting, depending on the printer driver. WTF kind of an "enterprise" feature is that?

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by emg on Sunday May 04 2014, @07:31AM

        by emg (3464) on Sunday May 04 2014, @07:31AM (#39406)

        Don't forget that you also need the same version of Office if you want to see documents the same way, or even be able to open them at all. So you have to keep updating to read documents from customers, even if Office 2000 had every feature you actually needed.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by VLM on Sunday May 04 2014, @01:59AM

      by VLM (445) on Sunday May 04 2014, @01:59AM (#39361)

      "so when one employee receives a document from another, it is rendered exactly as intended"

      At my employer we also have MS Office, etc, but the employees have invented their own strategy to ensure proper rendering, where they alt-prtscrn into the clipboard, then crop or scribble on it in MSPaint, then print it out, then scan the printout, then send the scan via email. Unfortunately this is the best bug submission system I've been able to set up, so far.

      It all makes sense in an insane sort of way, where they need to share exactly how something appears (like a bug) and they don't understand the "file" analogy so the easiest form of data interchange between programs (like paint-into-email) is using paper as an intermediate step. Also for awhile (admittedly a long time ago) the email virus scanner killed any image attachment over X kilobytes in length (silently discarding the entire message, of course) but whitelisted anything that came from the scanner.

      So yeah, love that data interchange thats "only available from MS products" LOL.

      Of course at my volunteer gig, everyone uses google docs/drive. Everyone. It actually works, believe it or not.

      • (Score: 1) by OffTheWallSoccer on Sunday May 04 2014, @02:34PM

        by OffTheWallSoccer (1010) on Sunday May 04 2014, @02:34PM (#39475)

        > where they alt-prtscrn into the clipboard,
        > then crop or scribble on it in MSPaint,
        > then print it out,
        > then scan the printout,
        > then send the scan via email.

        Are the print/scan steps done because the scan produces a particularly global file format? Why not replace print/scan with "convert to PDF"?

        • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday May 05 2014, @12:17AM

          by VLM (445) on Monday May 05 2014, @12:17AM (#39613)

          Where would you save the file if you're "not too good at that computer stuff" like knowing the concept of a file or directory.

          If you ever have to re-send it, and you will, its easier (for some) to find the paper.

          Some folks skip the MS Paint step and scribble on the printout. They tend to be completely illiterate so I can't read their writing. Ideally everyone would enter text in MS Paint and draw lines by hand, but whatever.

          Also insert draconian rules about all emails older than 90 days are deleted so if it ever becomes important in the future, like for annual reviews, you need hard copy.

          Finally insert draconian file storage quotas. Its not that a gig of disk space is expensive, its a gig of disk space total for a fraction of a million employees times exhaustive backup procedures starts adding up.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by lx on Saturday May 03 2014, @06:15PM

    by lx (1915) on Saturday May 03 2014, @06:15PM (#39290)

    I used my shower every day for 15 minutes, which means it sits unused 98.9% of the time. All that money spent on something that is hardly ever used. What a waste!

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by chromas on Saturday May 03 2014, @06:57PM

      by chromas (34) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 03 2014, @06:57PM (#39299) Journal

      It's okay because, while the shower was expensive, it came with a free house.

    • (Score: 2) by RamiK on Saturday May 03 2014, @07:42PM

      by RamiK (1813) on Saturday May 03 2014, @07:42PM (#39311)

      Problem solved:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XaudUAHZinw [youtube.com]

      --
      compiling...
      • (Score: 2) by lx on Sunday May 04 2014, @11:08AM

        by lx (1915) on Sunday May 04 2014, @11:08AM (#39428)

        Oooh Jerry has a Twentieth Anniversary Mac!

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03 2014, @07:36PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03 2014, @07:36PM (#39309)

    Unless I happen to be the most unlucky person who has randomly managed to encounter only clueless people, for the past 20+ years, most office workers have had Office, or WordPerfect, or whatever and had minimal use for it. Most use it like a typewriter and have no grasp of any features like style sheets, and have no clue about document production.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by lx on Sunday May 04 2014, @11:21AM

      by lx (1915) on Sunday May 04 2014, @11:21AM (#39430)

      Most use it like a typewriter

      Which is fine by me. The problems usually start when they try using Word like InDesign or Photoshop. (Not a joke BTW. This happens far too often.)

  • (Score: -1, Redundant) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03 2014, @07:50PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 03 2014, @07:50PM (#39313)

    the Outlook email client
    No real details == crap article.
    Did folks use any other M$ widgets in combination with that?
    Would Thunderbird+Lightning have accomplished the same thing?
    Was there another layer involved that, again, could have been replaced with a cheaper, more open substitute? [googleusercontent.com] (orig) [techrepublic.com]

    Maybe a MICROS~1 specialist can tell us if it would be significantly cheaper to put Outlook on an app server instead of installing it on every one of n desktops in a company.

    -- gewg_

  • (Score: 2) by mendax on Sunday May 04 2014, @02:40AM

    by mendax (2840) on Sunday May 04 2014, @02:40AM (#39368)

    There are very few things writing-wise that I have had to do in my work life that I could not do in Wordpad. I think that fact says a lot about the usefulness of having access to MS Office or any other office suite for most people. So, if a company is going to provide an office suite to its employees, why not provide a good but cheap one? OpenOffice and LibreOffice are as cheap as you can get and are pretty well-featured and stable.

    --
    It's really quite a simple choice: Life, Death, or Los Angeles.
  • (Score: 1) by isaac on Sunday May 04 2014, @09:54AM

    by isaac (500) on Sunday May 04 2014, @09:54AM (#39421)

    ...but if you need them, you really need them.

    Anyone touting LibreOffice as a viable Word or Excel replacement has never actually needed the functionality of Word or (especially) Excel.

    Even Excel for Mac is not a viable replacement for the real (i.e. Windows) Excel for many purposes and it's ostensibly "Microsoft Excel." (Try sharing a workbook with complex pivot tables, for example.)

    -Isaac

    • (Score: 3) by moondrake on Sunday May 04 2014, @01:30PM

      by moondrake (2658) on Sunday May 04 2014, @01:30PM (#39453)

      May be true, but it can be inverted as well. I have several rather complex spreadsheets in gnumeric that do things that Excel cannot do because it does not have some of the extended functions that gnumeric offers. So people came to me to see how I calculated the thing and now run their own version of gnumeric specifically for this use case because it is far easier than trying to hack it together with some macros. Not that Excel was not "viable", it was just easier to do it in gnumeric.

      Similarly, for me, Word is not a viable replacement for some of the things I do in Libreoffice (better X-platform and version compatibility, better SVG support, better legacy format support, and _much_ stabler for large documents in my hands).

      So, if you get used to Libreoffice, you can do 95% what Excel does, and for the remaining 5% you need to spend some more work. But the opposite applies at well. If you happen to use something that is easier in Excel and you do not want to spend time to learn how to do it different, well, than by all means keep using it. But do not be so blind and look whether your work-flow cannot be improved by using something else when office falls short.