According to a Forrester Research report, “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Microsoft Word Love Story,” many companies use Microsoft Word because it is familiar, not because it is the best software for their needs.

“Because Word has become so entrenched in the enterprise in the last 25 years, organizations cannot easily move off of it,” she wrote. “So despite the noise made by the new Web-based authoring tools — most of which are free for a limited number of users — they have failed thus far to realize enterprise adoption.”

The report mainly discusses the advantages of web-based office suites like Google Docs, Zoho, and others. Microsoft is even developing its own online office suite, Office Live Workspace, to compete.

The same holds true for lawyers, many of whom use Word not out of necessity, or because it gets the job done most efficiently, but because it is familiar. Most lawyers would benefit from switching to free alternatives like, but many lawyers would also benefit from trying web-based office products for some tasks.

Google Docs, for example, offers easy collaboration, so that two or more authors can be working with the same document at the same time. For drafting a stipulation of facts or a settlement agreement, using such a collaborative, web-based editor can save a ton of time and effort.

Report: Companies use Word out of habit, not necessity | PC World (via Slashdot)

2 responses to “Microsoft Word is a habit you can kick”

  1. Greg says:

    Agreed, though the reality of moving people off of Word is daunting, at the least. We surveyed lawyers recently and, of 358 respondents, 81% use MS Word (46% use 2007, 35% use 2003) and a surprising 15% hold on to WordPerfect. Only 6 of the 358 use OpenOffice, a lowly 2%. We’ll post about this on our blog shortly ).

    For those of us who develop forms or products for lawyers, it doesn’t make sense to do so in any other format other than Word, for now. I plan to experiment with OpenOffice because of the looming .docx issue with forms, but our forms are highly formatted for ease of end use, and that formatting could present problems in another application, leading to real frustration for the user. It’s valuable time lost for us in answering the gazillion help desk problems that may arise with cross-application problems, as valuable time lost for the attorney or the attorney’s staff. So, yes, familiarity is a strong pull, as well as ease of use for the vast majority of our users.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of Google Docs, though my beef with it is in how it’s formatted, in HTML/CSS, which doesn’t translate well when you have highly formatted documents. I’m also a fan of OSS, especially free, but the reality of our market gives us limited ability to develop some products in an OSS format. We are, however, about to release a GnuCash trust accounting guide! That’s a start, at least.

    My prediction: once CSS becomes the de facto styling system for all formats, including Word, the equation will change dramatically.

  2. Rachel says:

    I mourned the decline of WordPerfect Our county government started using Word and then 90% of lawyers followed. But I miss WordPerfect’s ease of use and did not find Word 2007 to be an improvement over Word 2003. I love your blog because it educates me about other possibilities. I’m going to look into openoffice – thanks!

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