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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.

Google Apps To Microsoft Office 365: 10 Lessons
Google Apps To Microsoft Office 365: 10 Lessons
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Earlier this year, a number of analysts declared that Microsoft could reap billions by releasing Office for iOS. Make no mistake, the version of Office for iPhone that Redmond released Friday is not what those analysts were talking about.

That's not to say the company won't make a lot of money due to the new offering, or to suggest the iOS apps won't be useful. But Office Mobile for iPhone is exactly that -- a product tailored specifically to the iPhone. When tech commentators talk about Office's potential on iOS, iPad support is a big part of the equation. Unfortunately for many Apple customers, Microsoft is unlikely to make that move any time soon.

The reason? Office Mobile -- which includes versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- isn't really about helping iOS users. Many of these users will certainly benefit from the apps, but that's incidental to Microsoft's real goal: pushing Office 365 subscriptions.

Office 365 has been one of Microsoft's biggest success stories over the last year. To many businesses, its cloud-based approach, which includes up to five machines on a single license, is more agile and easily managed than alternatives. For a number of scenarios, such as workflows that involve multiple devices per employee, Office 365 is also cheaper. To businesses that are already invested in the product, or that were on the fence about signing up, Office Mobile for iPhone only sweetens the deal.

[ Will a Microsoft OS refresh cause business users to take another look at upgrading? See Windows 8.1: 10 Surprise Benefits. ]

For consumers and BYOD users, Office 365's appeal has been somewhat less clear. Millions have old versions of Office on their home PCs, and for the majority of tasks, these aging editions are still adequate. Office 365, which is $100 annually for the Home Premium package, offers access to Microsoft's latest and greatest features -- but unless one needs to synch content across devices via the cloud, or have access to documents while on-the-go, many of the newest versions' enhancements simply won't warrant an upgrade.

Even for new customers, Office 365 might not appeal. People who use Office on only one machine, and who aren't concerned about immediate upgrades, could also save money by buying the standalone version of Office 2013, for example.

Microsoft wants to encourage upgrades, and would rather that customers opt for subscriptions, which provide a perpetual revenue stream, instead of standalone releases. By opening Office to iOS, it could advance this goal. Millions of iPhone-toting consumers who currently use Office on only one machine might now have a reason to use it on two. Likewise, many users who were satisfied with an antiquated version might be more tempted to upgrade. The new apps won't make Office 365 the standard in homes around the world, but they'll still attract new customers and generate millions -- at least -- in additional revenue.

Still, despite the hoopla these apps are sure to create, Redmond hasn't really rocked the boat.

Microsoft stresses that Office Mobile is a lightweight version of its desktop equivalent, not meant for in-depth content creation so much as document review and collaboration. The new product certainly enhances the iPhone's capabilities, but much of what it offers was either already available out of the box, or through a series of workarounds. Apple's mobile OS already allows viewers to view most types of Office files, for example, and mobile device management companies already offer iOS users the ability to access and annotate SharePoint files.

Office for Mobile goes beyond and simplifies these earlier solutions, of course, adding not only true document editing capabilities but also useful synching features, such as the ability to begin working on a document on a PC, leave and seamlessly resume work on an iPhone. Because they are official releases, the apps will be more stable and consistent than current solutions, and Redmond has intelligently built the app around the smartphone form factor. Word on iOS includes a Viewing tool, for example, that allows users to scan through outlines of larger documents, making it easier to manage a large volume of text on a small screen.

But Office on the iPhone isn't a game-changer, from a mass market perspective. It essentially extends capabilities to the iPhone that were already available on Windows Phone 8. If these functions were so essential, one would think Microsoft's smartphones -- which have sold relatively well but are still feeding on iOS and Android table scraps -- would have flown off shelves.

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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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