Microsoft's dominance of the desktop applications market is looking increasingly unassailable, seizing business from Wordperfect and others since 1995 and even overtaking Lotus in groupware.
According to a survey published on Tuesday by New York recruitment company Olsten, 92 per cent of 294 corporations questioned now use Windows - mainly the newer releases, 95 or NT.
In a similar survey carried out by Olsten three years ago only 43 per cent of interviewees were using Windows 95.
The boom in the operating system has driven up MS' own applications business too. In the 1995 survey, the single most used piece of office software was Wordperfect with 61 per cent.
In the new figures, Microsoft dwarfs its rivals. Use of the Excel spreadsheet has risen to 79 per cent from 44 per cent in 1995. By contrast, installation of rival Lotus 1-2-3 has fallen from 67 per cent to 27 per cent of sites.
In the groupware sector Microsoft edged ahead of Lotus Notes, claiming 32 per cent of the sites, one per cent higher than its competitor.
Microsoft also headed the graphics presentation market, with Powerpoint gaining 86 per cent share, soaring from 18 per cent to overtake Harvard Graphics, the previous market leader.
Lotus conceded that Microsoft currently dominates the market but attacked the credibility of the survey. ?It?s no secret that Microsoft dominates this market but I?ve never heard of Olsten,? a company spokesman said. ?We use well established research groups like IDC and I certainly don?t agree with Olsten's groupware figures.?
He added that Lotus is looking to compete with Microsoft?s office suites - - which include free bundled software - by launching suites with built-in Java. ?Microsoft Office may reach a lot of people but around 80 per cent of its functions are never used. Plus they?re expensive to maintain at around $10,000 per person each year. Our new suites will offer the 20 per cent of functions that people really need,? he claimed.
Arthur Hochberg, principal consultant at Dataquest, predicted that Microsoft will easily maintain its desktop lead. ?Lotus' and Corels? market shares will remain stable but I don?t see any breakthrough against Microsoft in the suites area.
?The most important sales are office suites as companies find them more economical. In 1996 the number of suites increased by 20 per cent while the number of individual desktop packages fell,? he said.
Hochberg added that Microsoft has a history of concentrating its energy in selected areas to take the industry lead.
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