I have never ever really understood why people use Microsoft Office.
I mean, I do know that large companies and government departments like the comfort of dealing with a big company like Microsoft but even the average man-on-the-street seems enamored with it.
For the last ten years or so, I have been using Open Office and then swapped over to Libre Office for most of my needs and I don’t seem to miss Microsoft office.
Instead of Outlook, I use a variant of Thunderbird, Icedove, for my emails.
In fact, Thunderbird/Icedove is even better than Outlook in that I can read newsgroups (a very eclectic Internet genre) and i can use Twitter, none of which Outlook can do.
I think I can install plugins to help Thunderbird/Icedove organise calenders and meetings as well.
From personal observation, I have noticed that most people hardly ever use any of the more sophisticated features of Microsoft office at all, like the macro functions or the pivot tables.
Believe me, I have encountered thousands of Microsoft Office installations over the years and I think I have only seen one instance of a macro being used 🙂 And yes, it was a macro I wrote for a friend to help him maintain his fleet of forklifts.
And yet, the Microsoft Office juggernaut continues to steamroller all competition.
I mean, how many people know what Lotus Notes is? 🙂
So, naturally I was curious when I came across this article.
Have a read and tell me what you think 🙂
Why Microsoft Office has had its day
October 5, 2015 – 7:15AM
Microsoft Office 2016 for desktop and laptop computers is joined by versions for Android and iOS, but can the software dinosaur keep up in a mobile world?
According to Microsoft, the future of work hinges on the sorts of collaboration that come from using a package of software like Microsoft Office. This has been especially embodied in its latest version, Office 2016, released last month.
Crashes and freezes
Unfortunately for Mac users on the new version of the Mac OS, El Capitan, the new version has proved anything but a boon to productivity with constant crashes and freezes. Microsoft has yet to address these problems despite them being a constant feature over the past few months of beta releases of El Capitan.
The poor quality of the software may be a result of CEO Satya Nadella’s push to make Microsoft more responsive, releasing software and new features far earlier than was done in the past. At the same time, Microsoft has broadened the platforms it will now try and support with versions of Office that have been released for both Android and Apple’s iOS platforms.
Microsoft Office is a huge product with the Mac version supposedly consisting of more than 30 million lines of code. The code is extremely complicated and is thought to be like a jumble of spaghetti with paths weaving in and out to such an extent that it makes it very hard to follow, change and when it goes wrong, fix.
The other challenge is that Microsoft believed that constantly adding features to a product was the only way to make new versions of it attractive enough to users to encourage them to upgrade. Microsoft rarely removed features on the assumption that there were always users somewhere wanting to use even the most obscure option.
A product underused
This has led to products that are not only buggy, but are also bloated by features most users never use. In fact, in a survey of 148,500 employees of 51 companies, 70 per cent were only using Office to view documents for a total of 48 minutes each day. Most of that time was spent in the email application Outlook. These employees spent on average 5 minutes a day using Word.
When people use Word for editing, the 5 most common commands that account for 30 per cent of all commands used are:
These results are what inspired Google to produce its own web-based office productivity tools Google Apps which provide a fraction of the features of Microsoft’s desktop products.
It’s a mobile world
Microsoft’s world of software is sadly very much a feature of the past. In that world, people wrote large documents with a desktop publishing finish. Unfortunately, with the move to mobile, these documents have become impossible to read and more importantly, are a hangover of a time when quantity trumped quality.
The move to mobile has meant that people are communicating in more frequent bursts and in real time. Lengthy documents are not read past the executive summary and so the general need for sophisticated desktop publishing features is unnecessary for the majority of workers.
The differences in the way that people work is reflected in the profiles of companies that adopt Google Apps as opposed to using Microsoft Office. On the whole Google Apps companies have younger employees, are smaller and have been in business for fewer years.
Another driver away from Office is the increased use of Chromebooks in schools and the number of universities using Google Apps.
Students are entering the workforce having been brought up using lightweight and mobile tools for communication. This makes the future of products like Office in the long-term future much less likely.
The future for Microsoft and Office
Although Microsoft may succeed with different versions of Office adapted to mobile and the web, the challenge will be for it to make money from those apps in the amounts that it has managed with its PC products. Holding it back is the fear that the mobile or online products will cannibalise the enormous revenues from the desktop Office suite. Given Microsoft’s track record for the past 15 years, it would be forgiven for being pessimistic of its chances in pulling that off.
David Glance is director of UWA Centre for Software Practice, University of Western Australia
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.