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MIT Technology Review on OpenOffice

It’s nearly impossible to measure the number of users of OpenOffice, since it can be downloaded from many sources (only a few of which keep count), shared or sold on CD, or distributed via peer-to-peer networks like BitTorrent. However, one rough proxy is to measure the impact it has had on its competitor in this two-horse race.

Charles Ferguson, in How Linux Could Overthrow Microsoft, implies that OpenOffice has begun to affect the bottom line of Microsoft’s office division: “OpenOffice runs on both Windows and Linux and, though presently a tiny player, is increasingly being adopted by individuals and businesses worldwide. Conversely, in the last quarter of calendar 2004, Microsoft’s revenues from Office and related software declined 3 percent relative to the year before, according to Microsoft’s publicly released financial statements.”

However, OpenOffice is also replacing uncounted numbers of pirate copies of Microsoft Office, probably at a much faster rate than it is replacing purchased copies. This is good for Microsoft, as they have to worry less about IP theft. It is also bad for them, as their strongest competitor expands its userbase.

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