Microsoft Office – statistics reality check

Redmond boasts about MS Office are excessive or merely what you’d expect.

As part of the Office 2010 hype, Microsoft has given some numbers to the reach of their Office suite.

But as usual, these numbers need a reality check. They seem to be either excessive or merely what you’d expect given Microsoft’s promotion of Office.

First, here’s the boasts …

  • 500 million people worldwide use Microsoft Office
  • From July, 2008 through June, 2009 – Office 2007 experienced 92% year over year growth in trials, equating to 23 million trial downloads
  • Office 2007 Home and Student edition has been the top selling PC software title at US retail for the last two years

The first statistic isn’t the number of copies of Office sold, it’s an estimate of the number of people who ‘use’ Office. There’s no indication of how that number is calculated but, at a guess, to reach such a vast number Microsoft is probably including pirated copies of Office (which would be quite ironic). It may also count one person several times (ie at work and home).

Anyway you look at it, that’s an enormous number of users. It’s 7.4% of the world’s population in a world where most people (despite appearances in the western world) scrape to make a living let alone have a computer and spend time with Microsoft Word or Excel.

The world population is around 6,700,000,000 (6.7 billon). Microsoft says they have 500,000,000 Office users or 7.462 percent.


It’s only to be expected that trial downloads of Office have increased enormously. Until recent times Microsoft either didn’t have trial downloads or they didn’t push them very much. In the last few years, Microsoft has more confidence in the online sales model and has been pushing download trials and sales much harder.

Frankly, Office Watch would have been surprised if the growth figure had been much lower given that it was coming off such a relatively low base.


Of course the ‘Home and Office’ version of Office 2007 is the top selling software title. It’s the lowest priced retail version of the most popular Office suite around. There’d be something wrong if ‘Home and Office’ wasn’t selling so well. Let’s not forget that while ‘Home and Office’ is licensed for home use only, Microsoft knows full well that other people use it see our coverage on Office 2007 Home and Student edition.

There’s no doubt that Microsoft Office is both the biggest selling and most used suite of word-processor, spreadsheet etc – and rightly so. So you’d think that Microsoft would not need to resort to questionable statistics but somehow they can’t help themselves. In particular, the 500 million user number does seem excessive and unnecessary.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has released unbelievable numbers to make their case and it won’t be the last.