Federal users find suite contentment
By Richard W. Walker
In these days of double-digit-gigabyte hard drives, users generally don't complain much about office suites being 'hard drive pigs,' as one fed forthrightly put it in the last GCN survey of office suites [GCN
, July 21, 1997].
In fact, the latest GCN survey found that most federal users are content with their office suites, even though today's suites are more bloated than ever with applications and features.
Among the more than 235 feds who responded to the survey, only a handful had any real gripes.
A U.S. Courts systems administrator in Chicago who uses Corel WordPerfect Office 2000, which nipped Microsoft Office 2000 Premium for top honors in the survey, was fairly typical of the satisfied majority. He said he found WordPerfect Office 2000 easy to install and to use, and he couldn't think of any needed improvements.
In Denver, Federal Aviation Administration office automation specialist Norman Pratt called Microsoft Office 2000 praiseworthy. 'I like it for a couple of reasons,' he said. 'For one, it's a whole lot faster. All the applications boot faster, and they open files faster. The speed at which 2000 works and its enhanced Web capabilities are really what's paying off here in the long run.'
But Pratt had one grievance about Office 2000: It takes too long to install.
'When I installed Microsoft Office 97, it took me about 15 minutes to install the whole thing,' he said. 'It took me almost an hour and a half to install Office 2000. It's like, can we take any longer?'Work transfers
Mark Oliver, a systems analyst with the National Weather Service's Austin'San Antonio office, also grumbled about installing Office 2000. But he said he liked being able to import data effortlessly from one application to another.
'I like it because the applications are consistent,' he said. 'You do something in one and you can easily transfer it to another.'
Although Corel's WordPerfect suites held an edge in users' overall quality ratings'WordPerfect Office Pro 7.1 captured the No. 3 spot and WordPerfect Suite 7 for Windows 95 and NT took No. 4'there was no surprise about which company dominates in the federal market.
Microsoft Corp. rules the roost. The company's Office versions held 80 percent of the installed base in the market GCN surveyed.
Office 97 Professional was the most widely used Microsoft suite, with a 52 percent chunk, followed by Office 97 Standard at 18 percent. Office 2000 had grabbed 4 percent of the base.
Corel WordPerfect Office accounted for 16 percent of the market. At 6 percent, WordPerfect Office 2000 had the largest slice of Corel Corp.'s share. Suite 7 for 95 and NT and Office Professional 7.1 held 4 percent and 3 percent of the base, respectively.
Lotus SmartSuite, unranked in the survey, had a 4 percent portion. SmartSuite 97 for Windows 95 and NT accounted for 3 percent of the base.
Most feds GCN talked with don't use all the applications in their office suites. They tend to stick to one or two programs.
Robert Forristall, an Illinois National Guard supply technician who uses Office 97 Professional, said he mostly relies on Word for everyday word processing and on Excel for spreadsheets. On rare occasions, he said, he uses PowerPoint, 'if we've got a meeting or a class or something special to make slides for.'
Overall, Forristall said, his experience with Office 97 has been positive. He added, however, that some units on the National Guard network in Illinois are still using Office 95, which has caused some compatibility problems when sending e-mail attachments from programs in the suite.
For highly specialized users, office suites don't always fill the bill.
At the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a research chemist who uses Office 97 Professional complained that office suites often aren't suitable for use by scientists. 'All of the components need to be capable of reading a large variety of image formats,' he said.
|Overall||Ease of use||Output quality ||Consistency of user interface||Integration between applications, operating systems||Import from one application to another||Documentation, help features|
|Corel WordPerfect Office 2000||89||100||100||100||93||93||93|
|Microsoft Office 2000 Premium||88||86||100||100||100||100||100|
|Corel WordPerfect Office Pro 7.1||77||100||100||100||86||86||86|
|Corel WordPerfect Suite 7 for Windows 95|
|Customizability||Price||Ease of use of macro features||Variety of macro features||OLE 2.0 support||Web authoring features|
|Corel WordPerfect Office 2000||100||86||93||71||71||85||75|
|Microsoft Office 2000 Premium||86||100||57||86||86||71||71|
|Corel WordPerfect Office Pro 7.1||71||83||67||50||83||33||50|
|Corel WordPerfect Suite 7 for Windows 95 and NT||90||89||60||78||60||33||33|
The GCN Reader Survey is designed to give federal buyers detailed quantitative data on specific computer and communications products, as graded on a scale of 100 by federal users.
The survey also measures the relative importance of product attributes in selection of those products.
This survey on office suites was part of a questionnaire mailed to 4,000 federal readers of GCN who on their subscription application forms identified themselves as buyers and users of office suites. We received 238 responses to this part of the questionnaire.
The office suites in the survey were chosen because they represent the bulk of such products used in government. This report lists results only for those versions that received at least seven responses.
The overall rating for each product was developed by averaging all individual attribute scores.
Top scores are in red.