Ballmer: Office with no iPad support makes 'a lot of sense'

Ballmer: Office with no iPad support makes 'a lot of sense'

Summary: Launching the new Office 365 without support for the iPad makes sense to Microsoft Chief Steve Ballmer.


The question of Office for iOS has burned for a year, but a release is still up in the air with comments by Microsoft Chief Steve Ballmer at yesterday's "new" Office 365 launch.

Asked about Office for the iPad, Ballmer gave a terse reply: "I have nothing to say on the topic."

"We're very happy with the product that we're putting in market," Ballmer told Bloomberg. "It makes sense on the devices like the Mac and the PC. We have a product that we think makes a lot of sense. We do have a way for people always to get to Office through the browser, which is very important. And we'll see what we see in the future.

Rumours that Office would be coming to iPads and iPhone in March 2013 surfaced late last year after Microsoft's Czech office announced Office Mobile for Android and iOS, allowing owners of Apple devices to purchase a subscription to Office 365. In the meantime, the only tablet on which Office is available is Microsoft's own Surface.

The fundamental issue thought to be behind the delay in bringing Office to iOS is Microsoft's unwillingness to pay Apple's 30-percent commission on apps sold through its App Store. Negotiations on the issue derailed Microsoft's plans to update its SkyDrive app for iOS last year, according to All Things Digital.

Microsoft also announced on Tuesday that the Home Premium version of Office would get tighter integration with its SkyDrive cloud storage service, along with Skype calling.

Despite Microsoft's late entry to a market that Dropbox cornered early, Ballmer told Bloomberg that he remains unfazed by the "fine little start-up" and its 100 million users, which, he noted, are dwarfed by Microsoft's billion for its Office cash cow. (How many users does Microsoft's Dropbox rival Skydrive have? It's not quite clear; last month, Microsoft said more than 200 million people "have used" SkyDrive, but didn't give a figure on how many are still active users.)

A key difference between the two, according to Ballmer, is that Dropbox is dominated by consumers, while Office 365 gets a much higher percentage of revenue from business customers. That said, Dropbox is making its way into the enterprise: a recent study found that one in five corporate IT users are using the service to store work documents.

Topics: Microsoft, Enterprise Software, iPad, Mobility, Tablets

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • There is an option to have Office in App store and not pay a dime to Apple

    Make Office for iPad FREE!
    • You Win: Most stupid idea of the day!

      Software companies... (i.e. companies that make their money from selling software) are not in the business of giving away the very thing that they sell, no more are car manufacturers prepared to give away cars.

      Companies that make their money from advertising are always happy to give away stuff that will help them sell more advertising... Google is an example of this. There is an increasingly popular business model referred to as "Fremium" that involves giving software with basic features away... in the hope that users will pay for the more advanced features. Fremium is an evolution of the Shareware software distribution model.
      • im going to assume that op isn't a complete moron

        How does apple's percentage of sale thing work? for instance, would it be possible to release office365 on ipad for free (with extremely limited functionality). Then unlock those features with your valid windows ID that contains a valid subscription? Could they get around having to give Apple their cut with that setup?
        • I thought

          you could only offer the payment option through apple. I may be wrong as I can't be bothered to go back and check but wasn't this the problem a few months back, apple stopped direct payment/subscriptions such as The Times were doing.
          Little Old Man
          • your guess is as good as mine.

            you could be right... i have no idea...
          • You're right

            They won't approve the app if you can purchase the subscription outside of the store. It's stupid. Have you noticed that the Kindle app won't let you buy books on the iPad? That's the reason. You can't even browse them. You can only access your existing subscription. They bent for Amazon to an extent, but a subscription for Microsoft, I don't see that happening.
        • Problem,

          Apple wants thier percentage of all sales to the client, so even if they unlocked through purchases Apple wants its share, and even if they stop using office on the ipad and moved platforms. It is crazy.
          • Cut!

            Apple wants to make a quick buck wherever they can get it. They take a 30% cut of anything that comes through the AppStore(TM) and I'm sure they would never allow Microsoft to sell an Office version for free - even if you have to pay fotr a subscription, Apple will want their cut.
      • Ever heard of a thing call a joke?

        Time to chill out a bit.
    • RE: Make Office for iPad FREE!

      LibreOffice is coming to the iPad and will be 'FREE!'.
      Rabid Howler Monkey

        That means I'll be able to spend even more time fixing documents that have been utterly screwed-up by users wanting to save a buck or two by using a free office suite. No thanks.
        • RE: FANTASTIC

          Did you miss this recent ZDNet article?

          "Office to finally fully support ODF, Open XML, and PDF formats

          "ODF is the default format in the main open-source office suites: LibreOffice and OpenOffice.

          Are you suggesting that Microsoft is doing something untoward with regard to their stated support of ODF?

          And with the iPad, saving "a buck or two" isn't the issue. The issue is the absence of Microsoft Office for the iPad.
          Rabid Howler Monkey
          • Standards shmandarts

            "Are you suggesting that Microsoft is doing something untoward with regard to their stated support of ODF?"

            All browsers support HTML and Javascript. Look how well that works...
          • So What Makes Micro$oft Office So Wonderful?

            Unless you need complex documents and spreadsheets for your work, you may as well use a free office suite. I never had a document crash in OpenOffice (even though I do not like it) or the few times I have used Google Docs.

            As for Micro$oft Office: I am forced to use it at my day job, but I use WordPerfect Office X5 whenever I can. No auto-formatting ("Big Brother in Redmond knows what you need better than you do"), no hassle integrating and editing tables and outlines, and fewer crashes. Please don't bore me with claims of Micro$oft Office integrating with Micro$oft Project and the like; the integration is spotty at best. Please don't bore me with claims of integration with Outlook; many of us find Outlook problematic. The bottom line is that if you want an _efficient, functional_ office suite for the iPad, lobby Corel.
          • No auto-formatting?

            I used Office/Word and make great use of its formatting features. If you don't like auto-formatting then either just turn it off or reset the default formatting, as I did, to suit your own needs. Is that really so hard to understand?
          • You've no idea what you are talking about...

            EVERYONE that works in an office requires a proper office suite. I've performed tech support for many companies, and even the most basic of needs require more features than are available in a free alternative. There is a reason businesses pay $500+ for an office suite for 1 user. A student just finishing high school, or a blue collar worker that needs to update their resume COULD use a free alternative. I could also take the bus to work, but that would be nightmare and take far longer than it should, so I take my car.
          • Tech Pro

            Had a job across the street from the subway station. I lived 18 walking minutes from another subway station. I went to that job via subway. Walking good. Not paying for gas and parking good. Jobs I had before that were 20, 45, and 55 minute walks. So I would occasionally ride my bike or walk it. It's a pleasant break. I still get to work. I had an alternative if the car needed servicing.

            Guess what? I use the suite. Consistent against all platforms is a plus. Can't argue with the licensing terms.

            I worry about pros who insist that there's only one way. This business has changed a lot, for one thing. Crises are cruel to the non-resourceful. (On the eve of a client's trip to China, a large critical document worked on for weeks in Word suddenly became "corrupt." I offered to try opening it with to restore it and, fortunately, that worked.) I take to heart Kurzweil's formulation that an engineer is someone who can do for a nickel what any damn fool can do for a dime.

            No hard feelings, though, I wish you well.
          • King

            MS Office is still king for businesses - well all but small ones. I have yet to see free office packages in a large business [excluding EULA reasons] as large enough companies can afford MS Office. Even charities benefit with deep discounting.
          • So, Gisabun

            You have yet to see free office packages in large businesses, except those where you do see them. (long paragraph reduced to basic information.)

            Interesting statement. You 'see them' because you are in those businesses, and have access to their complete software inventory? or is it just that you read documents from them?

            I have used Open Office and later Libre Office for close to ten years now. There are seldom any problems, as long as I remember to convert the document format BEFORE I send it. Microsoft Office is not able to import ANY formats without mangeling them.

            When there are problems with the formats, it is almost universally based on the fonts used. If you just don't change the font, and ignore the rest of the formatting, then there is no problem, unless it is a document you created. Microsoft's Times New Roman is a different font than every one elses. Several others also Kern differently. If you absolutely need the document to appear spaced the same (almost never), and you don't or can't use the Microsoft product, then download the fonts from Microsoft and the problem is solved.

            The same is true with Word Perfect. Oh, and I have used Word Perfect several times when Word messed up documents and the user can't fix it. Nested paragraph formatting is one common source of this. Another is the many incompatible versions Microsoft has used of it's 'format' over the years. Importing into Word Perfect, fixing the error with 'reveal codes' and then exporting in the latest supported Word format fixes this problem in seconds. Most typists spend hours retyping to eliminate the problem. It probably eats up at least a (Wo)Man day per Month at most offices.

            Of course the IT guys never admit that such a thing happens.
          • ODF

            No, I am referring to the FACT that OpenOffice & LibreOffice do am really poor job of preserving the integrity of Microsoft Office docs - doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, pptx files.

            To those that don't have to exchange docs with others, especially between several parties from different companies or organizations, then, sure, OO/LO is probably fine for you.

            But for the great many of us who share docs between organizations, collaborate between teams, integrate Office apps with LOB systems, integrate data in corporate databases, require DRM solutions tomensure data privacy, etc., OO & LO just aren't capable enough.