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OpenOffice: Worth $21 Million Per Day, If It Were Microsoft Office 361

Posted by timothy
from the imaginary-markets dept.
rbowen of SourceForge writes with an interesting way to look at the value of certain free software options: "Apache OpenOffice 3.4.1 has averaged 138,928 downloads per day. That is an average value to the public of $21 million per day, as calculated by savings over buying the competing product. Or $7.61 billion (7.61 thousand million) per year." (That works out to about $150 per copy of MS Office. There are some holes in the argument, but it holds true for everyone who but for a free office suite would have paid that much for Microsoft's. The numbers are even bigger if you toss in LibreOffice, too.)
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OpenOffice: Worth $21 Million Per Day, If It Were Microsoft Office

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @12:56PM (#42873261)

    ...people are downloading it for free so they're not necessarily paying customers...

    • by fermion (181285)
      Yet when MS talks about piracy, it treats every unlicensed copy as lost revenue. So in that logic, the analysis is correct.
    • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:20PM (#42873549)

      ...people are downloading it for free so they're not necessarily paying customers...

      And, more importantly, the number of downloads has no real correlation to the number of users -- which is what the paid products are based on. I've downloaded OpenOffice probably fifty times since its inception. I've bought Microsoft Office once.

      • This revolves around the 1:1 sale value idea where 1 download = 1 license value. Of course it's going to be hypothetical because some people may download once to a flash drive and then use that to install OO on all their systems or they might have failed downloads and have to try multiple times. This whole article is interesting but doesn't really say much about anything relevant.
      • The figures in the article are based on downloads of a single product version, 3.4.1, since August 2012. How many times have you downloaded OpenOffice 3.4.1?

    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@slaSLACKWAR ... com minus distro> on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:51PM (#42873983) Homepage

      And how many of those who downloaded 3.4.1, also had 3.4.0 before? Even MS makes minor updates available for free...

    • by kenh (9056) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @03:24PM (#42874981) Homepage Journal

      ...people are downloading it for free so they're not by definition paying customers...

      There, I fixed it for you.

      Download doesn't equal use, and use doesn't equal a willingness/ability to pay, and a willingness/ability to pay doesn't mean they would pay the same price as MS Office charges (the estimated $150/user).

  • What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by viperidaenz (2515578) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:01PM (#42873329)

    How many people would download OpenOffice if Microsoft Office was free?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rudy_wayne (414635)

      How many people would download OpenOffice if Microsoft Office was free?

      And there you have identified the real problem that nobody wants to admit.

      Linux, Open Office and GIMP are free. And yet, every day, all over the world, millions of people choose pirated copies of Windows, Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop instead.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by h4rr4r (612664)

        I agree lack of marketing is a huge problem, that is what you meant right?

        • I agree lack of marketing is a huge problem, that is what you meant right?

          No, that's not what he meant.

          But you knew that already, didn't you?

    • How many people would download cracked versions of Microsoft Windows if Linux were free?

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tgd (2822) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:21PM (#42873575)

      How many people would download OpenOffice if Microsoft Office was free?

      How many people would download OpenOffice if it wasn't free?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How many people would download OpenOffice if Microsoft Office was free?

        How many people would download OpenOffice if it wasn't free?

        How many people would pay hundreds of dollars for MS Office if their company wasn't picking up the tab?

        We could do this bullshit all day man, but this isn't even a get-what-you-pay-for argument here, nor should it be who is the superior product. It should come down to what product gets the job done for the best price, since most users only use 5% of the features in any given suite.

        Since business is rife with software corruption, this logic almost never comes into play.

        • by unixisc (2429386)
          I've heard this argument, but in my last job, I used to use both Excel & PowerPoint a lot - certainly a lot more than Word. In Excel, the things I did made the usage of Pivot Tables necessary, while in PowerPoint, I had to do not only effects, but also export Excel data to that, since a lot of it involved the presentaiton of data. I understand that the word processing of LO and MS Office are about par, but is the same thing at all true about the Excel & PowerPoint programs? I doubt that in the c
  • by Palestrina (715471) * on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:03PM (#42873345) Homepage

    Every year or so Microsoft and the BSA roll out an updated report on the financial cost of software piracy. They make a similar argument, that someone who uses a pirated copy of MS Office would have otherwise bought an MS Office license. So they estimate the loss to the economy as # pirated copies * retail price of MS Office.

    So it is interesting, and a bit of poetic justice, to apply that same logic to show the value of open source in the economy.

    Certainly one could quibble with the exact figures, but it does show that the impact of open source is huge. But we already knew that, right?

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      But while OpenOffice is good, I wouldn't quite go so far as to say that it's as good as MS Office. It does have it's shortcomings. While I use it at home, I wouldn't argue for a moment that it's a completely replacement for MS Office.
      • So if there were no OpenOffice or other free alternative, what would you do at home? Nothing? Or pay for MS Office? The fact that you use OpenOffice at home rather than MS Office shows that it is an adequate substitute for your home use.

    • Every year or so Microsoft and the BSA roll out an updated report on the financial cost of software piracy. They make a similar argument, that someone who uses a pirated copy of MS Office would have otherwise bought an MS Office license. So they estimate the loss to the economy as # pirated copies * retail price of MS Office.

      So it is interesting, and a bit of poetic justice, to apply that same logic to show the value of open source in the economy.

      No, it just means that the open source people are now using the same bullshit lies as Microsoft and the BSA to greatly over-inflate the "value" of their software.

    • by Tharkkun (2605613)

      Every year or so Microsoft and the BSA roll out an updated report on the financial cost of software piracy. They make a similar argument, that someone who uses a pirated copy of MS Office would have otherwise bought an MS Office license. So they estimate the loss to the economy as # pirated copies * retail price of MS Office.

      So it is interesting, and a bit of poetic justice, to apply that same logic to show the value of open source in the economy.

      Certainly one could quibble with the exact figures, but it does show that the impact of open source is huge. But we already knew that, right?

      So you have one application? Congrats. :) Considering MS Office isn't recorded by downloads it would be interesting to see how many of these downloads are upgrades versus new users. Multiple downloads in the same household shouldn't count twice either because the Office license grants 2 installs in most cases. As it stands this raw data is fairly meaningless.

      • 1. Microsoft charges full price for Office updates.

        2. The article uses the Microsoft price for single-user versions of Office 2013.

  • by nuggz (69912) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:05PM (#42873383) Homepage

    It's free-ish and fully compatible.
    Openoffice is just too slow, on my Linux box I use google sheets and gnumeric.

    • Openoffice is just too slow, on my Linux box I use google sheets and gnumeric.

      Speaking as someone with a slow computer (eee 900), what computer are you running???

      I've tried FF and Chromium and there is no way that those hogs + a huge ajaxy web 3.2.4-beta page is faster than LO.

      But yeah, I usually use gnumeric even on bigger machines because it's fast.

      But LO is acceptable on an eee 900. Not super snappy but not terrible either.

  • by KnightMB (823876) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:07PM (#42873395)
    I've not gone back to Microsoft Office since switching to the Open Office (and other open source office apps) for nearly 10 years now and not one day do I miss it. I've helped many business and people switch to it. Whatever proprietary features that are needed in Microsoft Office, at least in my experience, is too minimal to justify the extra cost when a little bit of googling can basically make Open Office (or Libre Office) do whatever you want it to do. There are even some things that I can't do in Microsoft Office and had to use Open Office for (including repairing damaged Microsoft Office files). So to each their own, if you need the features of Microsoft Office, more power to you. I'm sure many here though will chime in that for the majority of users, Open or Libre Office have 99% of what the typical user needs.
    • You might like Libre Office.
    • by tgd (2822) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:24PM (#42873623)

      So to each their own, if you need the features of Microsoft Office, more power to you. I'm sure many here though will chime in that for the majority of users, Open or Libre Office have 99% of what the typical user needs.

      Home user, yes. Office? I'd say yes, if you leave out Outlook. And, you could probably use some sort of web-based or other mail client and some other mail server if in some cases, but there's more to Exchange/Outlook than a simple mail program. IMO, the thing that most makes Microsoft Office "sticky" in corporate environments isn't Word or Excel, its Outlook.

    • by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:43PM (#42873853)
      I would go farther than that and say that Libre Office has 100% of what the typical user needs. Google Apps has 99%. The Office App requirements haven't really changed much over the last 15 years. The last must have word processing feature MS added was real time spell checking. My accountant pal couldn't get buy without Excel, but the typical user isn't even coming close to bumping their head on the OO/LO spreadsheet.

      The one thing MS does still have on OO/LO is that it looks prettier.
    • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @02:14PM (#42874283)

      There are even some things that I can't do in Microsoft Office and had to use Open Office for (including repairing damaged Microsoft Office files).

      This exactly. I have had MS Office docs that simply would not open in Office. Attempt to open, useless error message, then nothing. All data lost. Try again in LibreOffice, and it opens it. Some corruption, but at least the data was still there. Fix the file, save it and hand it back to a VERY happy manager, who opens the file in Office and gets back to work.

  • Wrong way to see it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:14PM (#42873463) Homepage Journal
    "Microsoft Office worth $0 per day if it were OpenOffice" would be better. And wouldnt had to be a money loss. Services, support, personalization and so on around it, specially on how widely is deployed, could still do quite a profit, and the same should work for Open/Libre office too.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:17PM (#42873507)

    How many people download or use Open Office because it is free?

    Probably a large percentage of them since that's one of it's redeeming features. Now if OO had the same price as MSOffice, I bet that number would drop dramatically.

    If you take the product acquisition cost out of the equation you're now left with acquisition costs which might not be in OO's favor.

    Cost to retrain people
    Cost to migrate existing systems/processes/applications to OO
    Support costs (IT, support vendors etc..)

    $150/seat might not be much if you have business critical applications like telephony/voice/chat that are integrated in with your office suite.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:50PM (#42873959) Homepage

      How many people download or use Open Office because it is free?

      I bet that even if it was $5, the numbers would be much lower. How many people will download it several times after re-installing or on different computers just because they can't be arsed to find the installer? Or just to try it out for ten minutes before going back to MS Office? Take for example the TPB AFK movie that was featured here on slashdot, I got it because it's free and legal. I haven't watched it yet, haven't even decided if I will but what the hell, I grabbed it anyway because I didn't need to make any cost/benefit decision, I could just put it on download now and decide if I want it later. The whole question of "Why should I spend money on that?" becomes "Why not, it's free..."

  • Goofy numbers (Score:4, Informative)

    by methano (519830) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:19PM (#42873535)
    I bought an Office for Mac 3-pack for about $125. That's not exactly the same as $150 each. I'm not a Microsoft fan but I do try to stay credible when possible.
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      I bought an Office for Mac 3-pack for about $125. That's not exactly the same as $150 each. I'm not a Microsoft fan but I do try to stay credible when possible.

      Its only fair to have Goofy numbers when its a Mickey Mouse article.

    • What Office tools did you get with that?

      Did it come with Powerpoint? Did it come with Vizio? Did it come with other stuff? Quite likely (since the same package is available here), that's the Student & Teacher edition, which comes with Word, Excel, and OneNote (which LO doesn't have, but which is of limited use for most of us). Apples to Apples, and all that... you need to compare it to the MS Office version that has all of the tools that LO comes with.

      That being said, most of what LO comes with is usel

      • by methano (519830)
        It came with word, excel, powerpoint and some other stuff that I don't remember.

        Do you talk the same way you write? Just curious.
  • I haven't bought a copy of office since 2006 or so. Openoffice and then Libreoffice have filled my needs nicely since then. I have friends and co-workers that are content to just use Google Docs. I could see if you're one of the small percentage of people that use some obscure feature only available in the M$ product, but for most people the free alternatives are perfectly fine.

    • but for most people the free alternatives are perfectly fine.

      That's the operative word. For many large corporate installations, all sorts of macro suites, plugins, weird data feature usage, etc, are all wound up in being MS Office specific. It's too entrenched to toss it for another platform.

      (in before "corporations are people LOL")

  • False equivalence (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WaffleMonster (969671) on Tuesday February 12, 2013 @01:29PM (#42873663)

    There are some obvious problems...

    1. It is free. If it costed $150 per download the numbers would obviously be quite different.

    2. How much of this is the same person upgrading a current version or reinstalling on a new computer? If it were office this activity would not register as a new purchase it would be closer to inserting the installation DVD.

    3. OpenOffice is not feature competitive with MS office. While it does not necessarily need to be to be in order to be relevant and useful to a great many people... for $150 it actually kind of does.

  • It's just hard for me to give up Outlook. I know, it's lame. I DID download Open Office, but went back to my 10-year-old MS Office 2003 software... until MS released office on subscription. $99/year for up to five PCs/Macs/Mobiles. So numbers change again depending on how often you upgrade non SaaS productivity software. I waited a decade last time, but I like the subscription price so I'll stick with MS for now.
  • Some holes? It's an argument that consists of nothing but hole. Pointing out actual holes would be missing the forest for the cellulose molecules.

    "OpenOffice is really popular, and millions of people use it." That's all you had to say. If you felt the need to speculate to earn your blog hits, you could add, "Perhaps there's a way to monetize it, though obviously as with everything else open source that's fraught with difficulties, which I shall now recite as if they were novel observations."

  • Counting the full value of a paid product as the "value" of a free download: Reprehensible and dishonest if you're talking about "pirated" software, music, or movies. Totally acceptable and obviously fair for open source projects.

  • Yeah, right...
    And those other people said every pirated copy is a lost sale...

  • $21 million in retail price savings is easily blown on I-T consultant costs to setup an OpenOffice system, train the users, and respond to their never-ending help requests.

    The truth is, the cheapest office workflow is on iPad. Pages, Keynote, and Numbers cost $10 each, run on all your iOS devices, have only the features that 90% of users need and want and understand, require almost no training, and run great for 10 hours straight on an iPad mini in your coat pocket. These are apps in which you get a ton of

  • I would submit that even considering how bloated the codebase to office is, it is better than the Open/Libre/[other derivative prefixes/first names] -Office in that it gets things done in a reliable and expected way, while the FOSS suite has very basic annoyances and errors that, for many people expected some better plumbing and polish, are unacceptable. Take errors like OpenOffice saving back-ups to temp files that are overwritten when the program starts: this is "boring" stuff that MUST be fixed, but fore
  • if openoffice were commercial proprietary software, it would be marked $4.99 in the bargain bin with the smashed jewel cases of DOOM II.

  • Microsoft's Home Use Program makes Office Pro a $10 download for many users.

    The price goes up a little (and you'll likely be paying S&H on the media) if your employer has you based in some god forsaken outpost like the Pitcairn Islands.

    Office 365 University is $80 for a four year subscription and two seat license. You'll need student ID but this is not the same product and dirt-cheap academic pricing you'll get from the campus-wide agreement.

    Microsoft positions the MS Office suite as part of an office

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