This week we ran a poll asking which word processing tool you primarily use. We wanted to see if things had changed much since we ran the same poll one year ago.

So are ReadWriteWeb readers, many of whom are early adopters of Internet technology, using online word processing services now instead of desktop software? Er, no.

As at time of writing, over 1,500 people had voted. 48% of those still use Microsoft Word as their main word processing tool. Its open source desktop equivalent OpenOffice got 15%. However, there is good news for Web Office fans - Google Docs was in second place with 17%. This is a 6% increase from last year according to our polls.

Less Than 1/4 of You Use an Online Word Processer as Your Main Tool

Let's delve further into the results, firstly for the desktop software. Last year MS Word got 46% and this year 48%. So not much has changed for the dominant office software supplier, even with RWW's Net savvy readers. OpenOffice slipped a bit, down from 17% last year to 15% this year. Overall, 76% of readers still use a desktop software program as their main word processing tool (counting the 8% who use a text editor for this purpose). That's up slightly from 74% the same time last year.

That means that less than 25% of our readers use an online service as their primary means of doing word processing. The best of the online breed was Google Docs, with 17%, up from 11%. This is a good sign though, because Google Docs is now second behind only MS Word.

Google Docs Gains Users, But Not From Microsoft

What was a little surprising is that the Web startups competing with Google Docs all performed worse than last year. ThinkFree got 2%, Buzzword 1%, Zoho 1%, and Zimbra less than 1%. ThinkFree and Zoho both polled at 5% last year and Zimbra 2% (Buzzword wasn't in last year's poll). This indicates that Google Docs has gained users not from MS Word... but from the online startups.

Tell us your reaction to these results. What's happened to the startups? Are they doomed in this market dominated by the big guns?