Normally, we wouldn’t pay much attention to birthdays, because that’s the way we are. However, there was such a frisson of excitement around the release of Office2010 last year, and because Microsoft says it is the bestselling version of Office it has ever made, let's have a look at what Microsoft is saying one year later.

There is also the fact that claims contained in the Microsoft Office blog by Takeshi Numoto, Corporate Vice President, for Office, comes only a month after Forrester (news, site) research argued that while Office was still the king of the desktop applications, the rise of new and increasingly efficient productivity suites has taken a little of the gloss around Office 2010 sales.

However, there seems to be little way of confirming the actual figures as in all the material available in a cringe-worthy blog post, there is no single figure for sales.

Office 2010 Sales?

However, Numoto, in an interview with CIO magazine said that since its launch, Office 2010 has been selling a copy of Office every second, which CIO estimates to be around 31.5 million copies, or even higher if it is assumed that this figure does not include Office for Mac 2011.

CIO adds that Microsoft says that all versions of Office combined is used by 750 million people and if you take 31.5 million copies per year as the high point for this version of Office, how Microsoft arrived at the 750 million figure is a mystery that a spokesperson declined to explain.

While no one is disputing the figures (as no one is really able to), it would be useful to get an idea of where the figures came from, and where the sales were strongest, just to get a sense of how Office 2010 is doing in different geographies.

Responding to Critics

But all this is beside the point really. The point is that reading through Numoto’s blog post, Microsoft has come back strongly at its critics last year, who said that it was a mistake to be investing in desktop applications.

Numoto says (quoting extensively because it’s important):

When we released Office 2010 to the world one year ago, our critics weren't easy on us. They said we were heading in the wrong direction by continuing to invest in our desktop applications in addition to the cloud. Even more recently, there've been more predictions of the PC's demise…

In fact, business customers are deploying Office 2010 five times faster than they deployed Office 2007. Office 2010 is also the fastest-selling version of Office ever. And nearly 50 million people worldwide use Office Web Apps to view, edit, and share their documents from anywhere with a browser and an Internet connection.

The rest of the blog then spells out why Microsoft thinks Office 2010 is wonderful, just like someone singing ‘Happy Birthday to Me’ on a loop.

Office 2010 Alternatives

But is there something more behind this self-congratulatory guff than ‘I told you so’? Recently a report from Forrester suggested that Office 2010 sales have been hit by the rise of other productivity suites.

It has always been hard to gauge how deep market penetration by alternative vendors has been. However, Forrester’s Market Update: Office Productivity Alternatives, by Matthew Brown with Philipp Karcher and Joseph Dang, set out to quantify that and came up with some interesting conclusions.

The report found, among other things, that while adoption rates of other suites is still slow, alternatives are beginning to gain ground.

After looking at a number of them including Google, Zoho or more traditional desktop alternatives from IBM and Novell, the research concludes that many enterprises are putting off purchasing MS Office upgrades while they try out other things, many of which are offered on free trial basis.

It is unlikely that the alternatives will hit Microsoft too badly, but it will certainly give it grounds to think, and maybe even looking at more competitive pricing in future versions.

And then there’s the future impact of Office 365, which should accelerate the move to web-based platforms for office productivity with 100,000 clients already on the beta wait list.

There’s no doubt that it has been a good year for Microsoft’s Office. The question now is what kind of celebrations it will be having -- if any -- when it’s two.