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February 19, 2008

The Most Frequently Used Features in Microsoft Office

Online office suites like Google Docs are often criticized because they have a very basic feature set, but the advanced features from software packages like Microsoft Office are rarely used. Jensen Harris, Group Program Manager of the Microsoft Office User Experience Team, published in 2006 a list of the most used features in Microsoft Word 2003, according to data collected from the users who opted for the Customer Experience Improvement Program:

1. Paste (11% of the usage)
2. Save (5.5% of the usage)
3. Copy
4. Undo
5. Bold

These five commands account for 32% of all the command usage in Microsoft Word 2003, as they are used very often.

"Paste is also far-and-away the number one command in Excel and PowerPoint, accounting for 15% and 12% of total command use, respectively. Beyond the top 10 commands or so, however, the curve flattens out considerably. The percentage difference in usage between the #100 command ("Accept Change") and the #400 command ("Reset Picture") is about the same in difference between #1 and #11 ("Change Font Size")," according to Microsoft's data.

Google Docs auto-saves documents so you don't need to press the Save button, while the undo feature has a powerful complement in revisions. On the other hand, because of the security restrictions from browsers, copy/paste doesn't work very well (but there are workarounds).

So instead of adding advanced features, Google Docs should focus on the most frequently used features and try to make them easier to use, while addressing the main goal: "enabling people to manage and collaborate on the documents and spreadsheets they rely on in their personal and professional lives, no matter where they are or when they need to access them".

{ via Jeff Atwood }

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