Survey: Execs choose MS

Microsoft now overwhelmingly dominates the desktop software market, beating out former market leaders such as Lotus and Corel, according to a survey.

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Microsoft (MSFT) now overwhelmingly dominates the desktop software market, beating out former market leaders such as Lotus and Corel, according to a survey of corporate executives released today.

More than 92 percent of the respondents now use Microsoft Windows, with the majority deploying Windows 95 or Windows NT, according to the 1997 Olsten Forum: Managing Workplace Technology, an annual survey of close to 300 corporate executives conducted by Olsten Corporation and the William Olsten Center for Workforce Strategies. The Center is a U.S.-based organization generating research and analysis on issues affecting workforce management and employees.

According to the report, in 1995, 61 percent of respondents to a similar survey said they used WordPerfect, while in the most recent survey that figure is down to 21 percent. In the same period, usage of Microsoft's Word rose from 43 percent to 80 percent.

Usage of Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet software has jumped from 44 percent to 79 percent during the three years, while Lotus 1-2-3 dropped from 65 percent to 27 percent, the survey said.

In presentation graphics, Microsoft's Powerpoint is used by an overwhelming 86 percent compared to Harvard Graphics' 3 percent. In 1995, Harvard Graphics led by 27 percent to 18 percent.

And among groupware users, the study found that Microsoft Exchange edged past Lotus Notes in 1997, 32 percent to 31 percent, while in 1996, the first year the question was asked, Lotus Notes led by a wide margin, 49 percent to 19 percent.

The study found that bundling its software products has allowed Microsoft to turn the tables on old desktop favorites such as Lotus 1-2-3, Harvard Graphics, and WordPerfect.

Adrienne Plotch, one of the authors of the Olsten study, said she was not surprised to see Microsoft on top in this year's study. "We expected that. But if you had asked us three years ago, we probably wouldn't have imagined this. Back then, people were so entrenched in using the other applications, like WordPerfect for example."

The study addresses such areas as software packages, groupware applications, systems, network computing, the use of corporate intranets, and the future application of network computing technologies.

The Olsten survey also reveals that more than three out of four respondents cite significant productivity increases as a result of workplace technology overall.

Email stands out as the application that has had the greatest impact, as cited by 64 percent of survey respondents. Sixty-two percent cited spreadsheets, while 59 percent preferred word processing applications, followed by database management at 39 percent, scheduling software at 18 percent, and presentation graphics at 17 percent. Only one fifth, or 19 percent, said Internet and Web applications had the most impact on productivity.

Nine out of ten of the respondents with groupware say their company is using email, according to the survey. Groupware email implementation is now divided among Lotus Notes, Microsoft Exchange, and Novell Groupwise. Lotus Notes users report the most robust applications overall, such as shared databases, custom applications, and collaborative computing.

In addition, the study found that one third of the surveyed companies are considering a "network computing" architecture, citing a lower cost of ownership, reduced maintenance, and more flexibility in maintaining critical applications on centralized services.

Corporate intranets have become a key human resource and employee communications tool, the study concluded. More than half, or 51 percent, have established an intranet, with the most prominent use being the distribution of information to employees.

The survey includes vice presidents and senior executives from a broad spectrum of North American businesses. Questionnaires were distributed by mail during September 1997 and 294 responses were received. The survey was conducted for the William Olsten Center by McKendrick & Associates, an independent research firm.