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OpenOffice is the new David Hasselhoff

Big in Germany. Not so big in Blighty

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A new study from German web analytics firm Webmasterpro.de shows that adoption rates of open source productivity software suites swings wildly between different countries.

According to the study, over 20 per cent of Germans, Czechs, and Poles run OpenOffice or other open-source productivity suites, while the UK and US lag behind at a mere 9 per cent apiece.

In Germany, the study says, 21 per cent of those analyzed have OpenOffice or one of its derivatives installed, whereas about 72 per cent have Microsoft Office, 2.7 per cent have WordPerfect, and 1.4 have Apple iWork.

That compares to the UK where 9 per cent have OpenOffice users, 80 per cent MS Office, 0.7 per cent WordPerfect, and 2.6 per cent Apple iWork.

Across the ocean, 9 per cent of American have OpenOffice, 75 per cent MS Office, 3.7 per cent WordPerfect, and 3.3 per cent Apple iWork.

The firm lumps its OpenOffice share with its derivatives like StarOffice, IBM Lotus Symphony, and lesser-known software.

Webmasterpro claims it arrived at the results through a clever (although truthfully error-prone) method of checking via Javascript what fonts are installed on over two hundred thousand international visitors analyzed by the web statistics service, FlashCounter.

Though the firm admits its error margin on OpenOffice may be as large as plus or minus 5 per cent and 15 per cent for MS Office, it claims the figures are still useful in reflecting the magnitude of open source productivity suite adoption in different countries.

One such interesting tidbit gleaned from the figures is that roughly half of users with OpenOffice additionally have a copy of Microsoft Office installed on their PC. But the firm reckons this number may be somewhat inflated due to expired trial versions of Office that so often come pre-installed on new computers running Windows. Plus, there are folks just testing the waters or in the process of transitioning, which can't be appropriately sorted out through the study's methodology.

Several countries that appear to be leading the open source charge such as France, Germany, and Spain are homes to government customers that have adopted the ODF file format.

The firm also believes national pride may have its hand in determining a country's office suite of choice. It noted that strong adoption of OpenOffice in Germany could partially be a result of its origins in StarOffice code, originally developed by the Germany company StarDivision. Meanwhile, Canada has the largest WordPerfect market share (4 per cent) perhaps thanks to Corel Corporation's Ontario heritage.

Webmasterpro's complete figures are available (in English) here. More on the methodology can be found in the original German analysis. ®

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