What is an office suite?

The question of what is an office suite is debate-able as the computing culture warms up to web-based applications with little to no install footprint.

In this page we will discuss and update the profiles of some of the more popular office suites on the market.

More exists at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_office_suites

This is a work-in-progress. This post will move to a page in a week or so.

Microsoft Works

This product was a low cost office suite for the masses. Bundled by oems at the cheap cost of $10, Works was everywhere. Its younger versions could not open MSWord documents which caused Microsoft loyalists wondering “What will we use?” This product has been rebranded as “Office Starter” which is basically a stripped down version of MS Office.


Coming in at the three figure retail value mark per seat, Microsoft Office boasts cash cow status for Microsoft. While some corporations swear by integration into other Microsoft products such as Outlook/Exchange and Sharepoint, Microsoft lacks market share in the email and web content management system markets. Corporate customers who do by MS Office, will find themselves pressured to upgrade and open their wallets every 3 years.

No one but Microsoft knows how many copies are legally activated each year. If anyone has any figures as to how many are purchased, that would help a lot.

OpenOffice.Org and derivatives

When one executes a Google search on the term “office suite” the first non-ad post which appears is OpenOffice.Org. Now sponsored by Oracle, the OpenOffice.Org suite provides free software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and other desktop productivity tools. It’s commercial version is now called Oracle Open Office.

Market share for such a product has been traditionally tricky considering that it is free to download and redistribute. Moreover big vendors like IBM and smaller folk since Open Office Suite have re-banded OpenOffice.Org with other free and non-free components. By all means, I applaud everyone who gets in the business of marketing and selling OpenOffice.Org. Heck, even Novell has gotten in on it.

Certainly OpenOffice.Org derived products are not the only ones in the office suite game. While they are widely available via over one hundred distribution channels on CD with hundreds of ebay listings, Microsoft still claims 80+% market share.

Sorry Microsoft, hiring Forester to interview “152 IT Decision Makers” on what office suite they use is not a true indicator of market share.

This a blatant disregard for the home office suite user market. Do they really think all the 100,000,000 downloads as of 2009 are to be ignored?

With that said, let’s just focus on corporations. Forrester did a similar market share poll in 2008 with 62% out of 102 IT executives involved in decision making in Large Western European Enterprises already using Open Source office suites with another 19% promising to adopt in the next 12 months. That would put OpenOffice.Org and other Open Source cousins with 81% market share!!!

Desktop/Office Productivity Open Source software in use in2008 out of 102 European companies


Services (n=28)


Services(n = 18)

Gov. and Public

Sector (n = 24)


(n = 15)


(n = 17)

2008 & Trend 2008 & Trend 2008 & Trend 2008 & Trend 2008 & Trend
68% 96% 50% 89% 50% 92% 80% 87% 71% 88%

Moreover, I could just as easily stack the deck and find 122 other corporations who do not use Microsoft as an office suite.

Google Docs and Google Apps

Google has two web-based application suites for word processing, spread sheets, and presentations. Google Docs for consumers is a no-cost product that is heavily tied to Gmail. For companies, they can buy Google Apps where Google Docs happens to be one component of the commercial “Apps” product.

Numbers of businesses who use Google Apps:

1million in 2008 with 100 million active users

2 million customers as of 10/2009

Nick asserts that Google Apps users are using an office suite because it is an opt-in product yet Docs is not.

Beth Lynn asserts that both products are office suites because the cover word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation within the same tool set. Users who does not have an office suite installed on their computer can still click on their attachment to open their documents via Google Docs applications.

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