7 in 10 office workers barely use Microsoft Office anymore

Survey finds the only Office app still used daily is Outlook, which is bad news for Microsoft.

Microsoft has two cash cows: Windows and Office. They help offset losers like Bing and Windows Phone and provide the big profits that the non-sexy groups, like tools and server apps, don't provide.

So Microsoft won't be happy to see this new survey from SoftWatch. In a three-month study involving 148,500 employees at 51 global firms, SoftWatch found that seven in ten employees were barely using Office, and those who did just used it to view documents or for very light editing. The report is available as a PDF.

RELATED: Productivity showdown: Google Apps or Office 365?

On average, employees spent about 48 minutes per day using Microsoft Office. About two thirds of that time was spent on Microsoft Outlook, checking and responding to email. Excel was next, with just eight minutes of usage per day.

The study divided users into heavy users, light users, viewers, and inactive users. A full 29% of employees never used Excel or Word or used it only to view documents sent to them.

PowerPoint, the king of presentations, has been knocked down to minimal use. The survey found only about one in 20 users could be described as heavy users.

Now, it needs to be noted that SoftWatch sells analytics products specifically geared toward helping a company determine whether moving some employees from more expensive licenses like Microsoft Office to cheaper applications like Google would help save money.

So they have a point when they say transitioning light Office users to Google Apps can save a company up to 90% on their Microsoft licensing fees, but they also have a dog in that fight.

And of course, Microsoft has made its own shift with Office, transitioning many customers to the on-demand version, Office 365. Since Microsoft changed how it breaks out its earnings, we can't determine whether Office sales are down from last year.

Obviously my experience is skewed, but one thing SoftWatch didn't explain is where all those Office users went. If they have indeed abandoned Word and Excel and Powerpoint, what are they using in its place? That is something I would like to know.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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