Europe is lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to adoption of cloud services – with many people confused about what cloud computing even means.

Just under one quarter of the 4,000 PC users surveyed across nine European Union countries said they use cloud-based applications, compared to 34 per cent worldwide.

And despite the best efforts of Microsoft and other vendors to make cloud a household term, the majority of European PC users, 65 per cent, either have never heard of cloud computing or don’t know what it is.

The survey was commissioned by the Business Software Alliance and alliance president and chairman Robert Holleyman expressed disappointment at the low penetration of cloud services in Europe.

“Unfortunately, most computer users in the EU have little understanding of cloud computing and have not yet moved to capitalise on the opportunities cloud computing offers,” he said.

The two countries with the highest claimed uptake of cloud services are Greece and Romania, with 39 per cent of users, while adoption stands at 21 per cent in the UK, 19 per cent in France and 17 per cent in Germany.

The higher adoption of cloud services in smaller European economies mirrors a global trend for faster uptake in “developing markets”, according to the BSA.

The majority of those who use cloud services, 86 per cent, did so for personal use, with only 29 per cent turning to these services for work.

The most common cloud apps used in Europe are email, following by word processing and photo storage.