Does OpenOffice have 11 million active U.S. users?

The open-source productivity suite hasn't made much of a dent in Microsoft's Office business, but it's finding serious penetration in the States, according to a ClickStream study.

While Microsoft Office is actively used by roughly 50 percent of U.S. Internet users, according to a 2,400-strong survey administered by ClickStream Technologies, 5 percent of U.S. Web users also actively use the open-source productivity suite OpenOffice.org.

Importantly, ClickStream wasn't measuring installations. It was measuring use. The company actually installed client-side software that tracked which applications the users were running. To have OpenOffice in use across 5 percent of U.S. Internet users is pretty amazing.

How many people does this translate into? According to recent data, there are 303 million people living in the United States, 72.5 percent of which have Internet access. This suggests that of a population of 219 million U.S. Internet users, nearly 11 million actively use OpenOffice.

In other words, OpenOffice is not a niche geek phenomenon. With more than 46 million downloads of version 3.0 alone, OpenOffice could prove unpleasantly disruptive to Microsoft's desktop business.

True, 5 percent U.S. market share doesn't sound like much, but an estimated 11 million people interacting with OpenOffice on a daily basis sounds like an incredible beachhead for much broader market penetration.

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