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6/14/2013
01:50 PM
Michael Endler
Michael Endler
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Why Microsoft Won't Release Office For The iPad

Microsoft finally brought Office to iOS. Make no mistake: Its goal is to sell Office 365, not help Apple users. As long as Windows 8 struggles, don't expect to see Office on iPad.

A version of Office optimized for the iPad, in contrast, would have been a huge story -- but it also would have negated Windows 8's primary appeal over its tablet rivals. Yes, Win8 can run a lot of x86 applications, but outside of Office, most of this software involves pockets of niche users. Even with Windows 8.1 coming, Microsoft's OS won't win BYOD users on price, user interface or mobile app selection. Android and iOS are already too established on those fronts, which essentially leaves Office as Win8's broad appeal. The fact that the cheapest, most consumer-friendly Win8 tablets will soon come bundled with Office certainly suggests as much.

This need to protect Windows 8 explains why Microsoft has welcomed the iPhone but continues to shun the iPad. Office for iOS represents a careful balance; it has to be good enough to encourage Office 365 adoption but not so good that it cannibalizes Windows 8's potential consumer base.

To be clear, Office Mobile will run on an iPad, but users will be forced to work in a tiny, iPhone-sized window, or to degrade the apps' visuals by scaling up the interface for the larger screen. In a blog post, Microsoft suggested iPad users will "have a more satisfying experience using Office Web Apps," the browser-based version that already allows Office 365 customers to access Office on Apple and Android tablets.

Microsoft's probably right; many iPad users will prefer the browser edition to a re-appropriated iPhone app. But Web Apps are no replacement for the real thing. For starters, they simply aren't as rich and fully featured. Moreover, they require that the user be connected to the Internet, a requirement that -- as Microsoft has recently heard from legions of angry Xbox users -- isn't always practical.

But Microsoft knows that the Web Apps are limited, and that's the point. The extent to which tablets are suited for content creation isn't completely clear, but if consumers are willing to base purchase decisions on the availability of Office, Microsoft wants these customers all to itself. If Windows 8 gains a better hold on the market, Redmond might loosen its grip. But until then, don't expect Office Mobile for iPhone to realign any paradigms, or for a tablet-optimized iOS version to hit the market.

Disappointed iPad users can take solace in one tidbit from Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, though: An improved, cloud-based version of iWork, Apple's Office competitor, is coming.

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Faye Kane, homeless brain
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Faye Kane, homeless brain,
User Rank: Strategist
6/20/2013 | 12:51:23 AM
re: Why Microsoft Won't Release Office For The iPad
==--
Microsoft reminds me of that monkey trap where the bait is in a tethered coconut with an opening big enough for a hand but not a fist. The monkey grabs the food but can't remove his hand while holding the food, and is captured because he is too greedy to do what is in his own best interest.

It's too late now, but all MS needed to do to continue to own the IT market was to make the best, most usable software they could and sell it cheaply. But instead of doing what's best for the customer, Ballmer does what's best for Microsoft.

His company is sinking into irrelevance because he thinks there's a difference.

-flk
Faye Kane, homeless brain
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Faye Kane, homeless brain,
User Rank: Strategist
6/20/2013 | 12:41:41 AM
re: Why Microsoft Won't Release Office For The iPad
==--
So how do you edit a video using Office, paid Microsoft shill?

And don't pretend that you think Acrobat is needed to generate PDFs. I use Open Office, and just yesterday I generated a PDF my book by clicking File -> Export PDF -> Ok.

*THREE* clicks.

If Ballmer invested as much in usability as he does in trying to fool us with paid liars, maybe your company wouldn't be as desperate as it is.

But maybe not. Given what Open Office can do, any IT manager that makes his company pay for a nearly-unusable product (read: ribbon interface) instead of a superior free one, is either incompetent or being paid by Ballmer's gang to recommend Microsoft's inferior products ...just like you are.

-faye
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
6/17/2013 | 6:42:38 PM
re: Why Microsoft Won't Release Office For The iPad
Developers, in general, won't be making apps for iOS for much longer. Apple is spiraling themselves out of business.

http://bit.ly/IC4m9t
melgross
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melgross,
User Rank: Ninja
6/17/2013 | 4:10:51 PM
re: Why Microsoft Won't Release Office For The iPad
You don't need Acrobat for that. Particularly if you already have a Mac or iOS device, all of which offer PDF as a native format. You just select Print. And save as a PDF. Very simple.
Terabyte Net
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Terabyte Net,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/17/2013 | 11:48:57 AM
re: Why Microsoft Won't Release Office For The iPad
PDFs? Really? So you're creating documents in Acrobat? I seriously doubt that. Acrobat Pro is so clumsy that creating even a simple memo in Acrobat is a chore. People creating documents use Office. Those down the food chain may get a PDF of a memo or company policy, but those charged with creating company documents, policies, procedures, sales guides, etc... are creating them in full blown office, not Office for the Web or some toy app, but full blown .exes. I've asked repeatedly for someone to show me how any app on an iToy can substitute for full Office and thus far no one has demonstrated this. You can type a simple memo or e-mail, but a PowerPoint presentation for your next $100 million promotion or editing a video for your next commercial? Seriously not going to happen anytime soon on a toy.
SteffenJobbs
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SteffenJobbs,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/16/2013 | 4:32:22 AM
re: Why Microsoft Won't Release Office For The iPad
By not putting Office on the iPad, I think Microsoft is only hurting itself. Maybe the company still has a thread of hope that its own tablets are going to start selling in huge quantities. I wonder about that reasoning.
Scripter23
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Scripter23,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/16/2013 | 1:13:02 AM
re: Why Microsoft Won't Release Office For The iPad
Defending MS Office is a losing proposition. Ten years ago I had to be up to date as to the version of Office I used. Now no one cares. Rarely do corporate people send out word documents. Mostly we use PDFs. When I do get an Office document I can edit it with iWork. The format might be a bit off, but who can tell? Now different versions of Office also introduce rendering errors. There are about a hundred million tablet users finding ways to get by without Office and the number grows every day. People without tablets have to accommodate tablet users simply because of their numbers. Corporations are adopting iPads at a fast clip and those users don't use Office. I don't see how MS wins. They are not innovating. They are not trying to entice users with a great product. They are trying to dig in their heels and prevent people from moving on to other solutions.
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/15/2013 | 9:00:11 PM
re: Why Microsoft Won't Release Office For The iPad
It's almost as if Microsoft is trying to figure out which throat to cut - their own or their users.

As someone who has to deal with Microsoft's support for their Office 365 product on a nearly daily basis, since I'm supporting an enterprise that utilizes that service, either things work or they're excruciating.

To be honest, I generally deal with the Hosted Exchange, Lync and Sharepoint products - but I'm aware of organizations who have those services from Microsoft but are looking at moving them back in-house due to a lack of service stability. Organizations run on e-mail, IM and knowledge sharing these days.

With that kind of experience, I would be extremely hesitant to endorse the Office Web Apps for any enterprise setting. Microsoft would really need to make some strides in the stability of their ability to provide service.

As far as getting Office on your iPad or even Android, for an organization of sufficient size, I'd recommend something like a VDI implementation where people could use an iPad based client to reach a real Windows desktop and use real Windows applications on it.

For Microsoft to consider putting Office natively on the iPad would be them surrendering the tablet market and effectively turning the Surface line into the next HP Touchsmart debacle. Ubiquity comes at a high price - you can't try to lock people into one application suite on a small number of platforms, especially in this day and age.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
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