November 3, 2020 | 10:45
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Microsoft Office in Decline

The Microsoft cashcow gets scratches. This is not what I write but what the FAZ writes in its today’s article: “The quasi-monopoly of Office gets scratches”1.

Some might say the FAZ has no expertise in IT. Well aactually this could be correct, because their undisputed circle of competence is the economy. But this should make you even more concerned.

According to a representative survey by the market research company Nielsen2, Microsoft’s position in its own US home market is now at only 80%, and the trend is continuing to decline. One reason for this development is that more and more people are working online and apps in a web browser are better acessible than their classic, locally installed counterparts.

Here in Germany, 1023 employees in medium-sized and large companies were surveyed who spend more than half of their total workingtime with office apps. Fun fact: One third uses Microsoft Office for formatting only, not for producing documents. The creation and formatting of charts and tables is identified as the biggest time consuming factor. You would think that this is the core feature of Excel.

I am very surprised about this figure: 71% say they need more training. In companies I rather meet persons who do not want to show any weakness and claim to have excellent office skills. Well when times are good, I ask quite subtle questions: How can I create a soft break without changing paragraphs in a Word document? How can I create automatic indexes with appropriate chapter captions in the page headers and footers?

Isn’t it kind of tragic, as a non-Microsoft person who actively worked with Windows XP and Office 2003 more than 14 years ago, I have to explain functions and usage to others? From an operational point of view, something else is even more remarkable: Every 3 years, a new Microsoft Office is bought and rolled out in networks. Quite a lot of extra time and effort for a product that has neither altered its functionality or improved its core features in the past decades.

Anyway, working with Word is so 1990s old school. Most of my texts - including this blog - are written in plain text in Markdown. Versioned with git on my own Gitea instance, free of any proprietary format and guaranteed readable in 20 years with whatever app or device.

When a person is appointed as scriptor in a business meeting, I just think formyself a) poor slob and b) nobody in this group understands digitalization. It is quite normal to me to work with several people on a document simultaneously. I practice this in my Nextcloud3 with the collaborative notes app, of course on my own server. I do this aswell in presentations and meetings on my own BBB conference server4, where everyone can highlight something using an own cursor on a slide. By the way nothing new as Doug Engelbart has already shown 52 years ago.5

Anyone who says there is no alternative to Microsoft Office is not only ignoring the trends of today but unfortunately the future of its users aswell. Sadly to say, they often have to use it without been asked before.

Best Regards
Tomas Jakobs

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