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Counting Users

Just as with other freely-downloaded and freely-shared open source programs, it is very difficult to estimate the number of users around the world.

Sun counts the number of downloads from the main website (at the stats page), which has exceeded 81 million to this point, and is running at about 500,000 per week. However, there is no way to know if people are completing the download and going on to install and use OOo. On the other hand, they may download it once to install on hundreds of computer lab machines, or people may acquire it from peer-to-peer distribution, inclusion with a Linux distribution, or from another mirror site, none of which would be counted in Sun’s figures.

Estimates of the number of real users range from 40 million to 100 million.

Now, with a new auto-notification feature for software updates in the newest version of OpenOffice, more solid numbers should start to come in. The system just went live recently, but over the coming months should begin to provide usable information (while allowing users to remain anonymous, too). Tracking how many users are running OpenOffice around the world will help to further promote the software and allow project members to refine their efforts. Installations should continue to grow at an accelerated rate!

2 Responses to “Counting Users”

  1. Chris Puttick Says:
    May 9th, 2007 at 4:53 am

    The update feature – will this be enabled in Linux distros versions? In particular I believe (!) Novell make significant changes to the OpenOffice code and presumably disable the update feature; Ubuntu (at least) add libwps – if an update from OOo would overwrite that, presumably they also would disable the update feature. So do we still have the count challenge after all?

  2. Benjamin Horst Says:
    May 9th, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Unfortunately, I do not know the answer to your question right now. You are right that Linux distros make changes to the OOo code, and these changes can be very significant. (For example, it might not make sense for a customized version of OOo to have its own update feature when the Linux distro that OOo is running in has its own built-in update feature already.)

    Currently, while the Linux userbase is still relatively small, this will only affect statistics slightly. In the future, as Linux marketshare grows, we’ll have to search for a new solution to the problem.