Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has confirmed that Microsoft Office will be coming to the iPad. As The Verge reports, Ballmer mentioned at a public appearance yesterday that iPad ‘will be picked up’ once there is touch-first interface for Office.
Ballmer didn’t offer any timeline (sound familiar?) but there seem to be expectations that by this time next year we could see Office for iPad. I would imagine sooner than that is possible and it would be very much in Microsoft’s interest to give this some major priority – as they’ve already likely left literally billions of dollars on the table by taking so long to bring Office to iPad and iOS.
Now that iWork apps are free and there are a number of Office-compatible apps out there, how much do you care about seeing Office for iPad? Will you be ready to buy it as soon as it hits the App Store, or not interested at all?
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Fortune reports today on a Wall Street analyst’s premise that Microsoft is leaving billions of dollars on the table by not offering MS Office on the iPad. The analyst is Adam Holt at Morgan Stanley, and his figure for how much Microsoft may be missing out on is $2.5 billion.
His number is based partly on the fact that Microsoft Surface tablets have poor sales and very low market share thus far. He also argues that a much higher percentage of Mac users (30-40%) install paid versions of Office than their Windows PC counterparts – and then assumes a similar 30% install rate for around 200 million iPads.
Check out the Fortune article for all the details on how Holt does his figuring. I wouldn’t venture any sort of guess on the accuracy, or lack thereof, of his numbers – but I absolutely agree that Microsoft is losing out by not selling Office on the iPad.
I’ve said for a long while that Microsoft has much more to lose by keeping Office off the iPad than Apple does. Apple’s won iWork suite and other Office-compatible suites sell well and presumably far better for the absence of Office. iPad users have viable alternatives by now, but I know that lots of them would love to buy Office for iPad apps.
Isn’t Microsoft supposed to be a software company? I don’t see how continuing to deny the success of the iPad, or writing it off as a flash in the pan, benefits them. There’s a potentially massive market there for Office, and they just continue to ignore it. They might want to take a look at how Google operates despite being an Apple ‘rival’.
This week there are new reports that highlight more evidence of Microsoft Office coming to the iPad and iOS next year. Apparently numerous references to Office apps for iPad and iPhone have been found on Microsoft’s support site.
A MacRumors piece on Monday described what sort of hints are being seen:
One example is a document addressing custom numeric formats in Excel. On the support site for the United States, the document is listed as applying to Excel 2013, while on theFrench support site it is incorrectly listed as applying to Excel for iPad. Searches for similar phrases throughout Microsoft’s support site yield a number of other references, including “Excel for iPad”, “PowerPoint for iPad”, and “Office Mobile for iPhone”.
These rumors have been around for a long time now and seem to have more and more strength to them as the months go by. I think they make perfect sense and I only wonder why it is taking Microsoft so long to make this obvious move. I’ve said for a long time that I believe Microsoft loses out much more by not selling Office on iOS than the Apple ecosystem loses by not having it there. If and when they do bring Office to iOS I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they earn more money on it than they do on selling Surface tablets.
Back in February The Daily, the first iPad-only newspaper, published a report saying that Microsoft was working on a version of Microsoft Office for iPad, it was nearly complete, and they had even got some hands-on time with ‘a working prototype’ of the software.
This week the Boy Genius himself. Jonathan Geller of BGR, says he has learned from a reliable source that Microsoft is planning to release MS Office for the iPad and Android tablets – and they’re aiming for a November launch.
Their source also claims to have seen Microsoft Office running on an iPad and mentions that the splash screen for it says ‘Office for iOS’ – which suggests there would be an iPhone version as well.
If we knew some specific dates for when the new Windows 8 tablets will launch (if ever) then we might be able to start guessing how long afterwards Microsoft would see fit to allow their office suite on other mobile platforms.
If and when Microsoft Office comes to the iPad, I think it’s a clear win-win situation for Apple and Microsoft. For Apple it’s another premier productivity suite and some flagship apps (especially for many corporate iPad users) and for Microsoft it would be a huge boost for their leading software suite in the rapidly growing mobile arena.
A new report out today says work on Microsoft Office for iPad is complete, and the app will soon be submitted to Apple for approval.
Fittingly, the report is an exclusive in The Daily, the first iPad-only newspaper. They even say they’ve had some hands on time with the upcoming app:
A brief hands-on with a working prototype of the software revealed a number of new things. The app’s user interface is similar to the current OneNote app, but it has hints of Metro, the new design language that can be seen in Windows Phone and in the as-yet-released Windows 8 desktop operating system.
Word, Excel and PowerPoint files can be created and edited locally and online. But it’s unclear if Microsoft will support other Office apps at launch or at all.
Their sources also say there is not an Android version in the works at this time; and that an updated OneNote iOS app will be released ‘to reflect the Metro design language’. That last part would be quite nice to see – as OneNote is a very nice app, but they currently have only an iPhone version.
And of course Microsoft Office for iPad is a big, big deal. For tons of iPad users, especially those using it within a corporate environment, this will be an essential suite to have. For Microsoft, it may be their best way of gaining any momentum in the tablet arena – through their software.
Wouldn’t it be fun if this was one of the new apps announced at the (expected) iPad 3 unveiling next month? I doubt it would be a headline app, as those will presumably be examples that take great advantage of a new retina quality display; but it would still be a big-name to talk about and highlight the quality and range of apps in the iPad App Store.