Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

Summary: I'm not surprised ... but I have reservations.

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The word on the interwebz is that Microsoft are planning to bring it's Office suite of applications to the iPad.

According to sources, the tech giant is actively working on adapting its popular software suite for Apple’s tablet. With the iPad making up over 80 percent of the tablet market and millions of people worldwide using Office, that could mean big bucks for the tech giant based in Redmond, Wash.

Also, there's a Lion version in the pipeline:

In addition to an iPad-ready version, a new edition of Office is expected for OS X Lion sometime next year. The current version of the desktop package, Office 2011, officially supports iOS versions up to Snow Leopard. A Lion version, likely available via the Mac App Store, is widely expected. Windows, too, is due for an update, with Office 2012 currently in beta form.

This is one of those obvious rumors. Personally, I'm surprised that Microsoft hasn't shoehorned Office onto the iPad already. Maybe it was waiting to see if the iPad would catch on, or maybe it's waiting for Windows 8 tablets to be on the horizon.

Whatever the reason, I'm not surprised that Microsoft is eyeing iOS.

But I have reservations.

First, Microsoft's a little late to the game. I already have at least two applications (Documents to Go and Air Sharing), and I assume that folks who have iPads and regularly handle Microsoft docs will already be kitted out with similar tools, or will have turned to web services to do the same. Back in January, Microsoft released OneNote for iOS, but by that time many people who used OneNote had already come up with solutions to allow them to use OneNote and had integrated these into their workflow. I have a feeling that Microsoft is once again late to the party.

Pricing is going to be crucial too. Forget the couple of hundred dollars price range (unless you are a student) that Microsoft charges for the PC version. Ten bucks per app is probably closer to what Microsoft can charge on the iPad. What iOS apps will rake in for the likes of Microsoft is chump change.

Putting Office on as many platforms as possible is a good idea. But putting Office on the iPad isn't about making money, it's about keeping Office relevant in a world where much of the attention and interest is focused on post-PC devices.

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Topics: Collaboration, iPad, Microsoft, Mobility, Software

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33 comments
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  • Re-post. Maybe it will stay this time. Hate ZDNet comments!

    I'd bet money that they're porting Office Mobile, complete with the Metro UI. It will likely be fairly cheap, 10-15 bucks for the entire suite. It will give people on iPads a taste of the UI from Windows 8 and Windows Phone. It's actually really smart. Or will be if I'm right. If you're right and they're porting full blown versions of Office to iPad, which doesn't even exist for their own mobile platform, it would be insanely stupid.

    And Office Mobile on Windows Phone is better than Docs 2 Go. I'm not sure about the other solution you list. But one place with automatic sync to OneNote, SkyDrive (and likely iCloud) and access to SharePoint seems like a pretty awesome idea. Especially if they stick with their Metro UI. After all, the biggest problem currently is getting someone with an iPad or an iPhone to try a Windows Phone or in the future to try a Windows 8 tablet.

    When the only argument you can give against using WP, as someone in my office did today, was that it's made by MS it's a pretty weak argument and most people don't feel that way. The guy liked everything about the phone, but it's MS so he wouldn't actually buy one. Seems silly.
    LiquidLearner
    • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

      @LiquidLearner most business users have already found a way to integrate their iPads into business and will likely pass on what will be perceived as an expensive, bloated application that isn't designed for the interface. I am not saying that is the case, but it will be the perception.

      It has been my experience that people who buy Windows Phone 7 end up exchanging it for iOS or Android because of the lack of compelling applications / interface. One person I work with couldn't figure out how to make phone calls and couldn't stand the metro ui, she exchanged it for an iPhone 4 and couldn't be happier. We recently had to purchase a windows phone to test our mobile device policy because in an office of 1000+ users no one owned one.
      cwbuechler@...
      • Just because they found a way to integrate their iPads into business

        @cwbuechler@...
        doesn't mean they fell it's the best way or what they want to stick with.
        It's been my experienece that people try to "shoehorn" the iPad into business for the sake of the iPad, not the business.

        When given a choice of doing it right, going with a solution designed to do what they're tyring to do, they take it.

        As for WP7, we just had 2 people here in the last 2 weeks dumped their Android phones for WP7 at the end of their contract once they saw the Office integration, and that was just one reason.

        Nice that you threw that "WP7" ( ;) ) part in. My wife asked why I made her get an iPhone and I got the WP7.
        William Farrell
      • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

        @cwbuechler@... <br>Talking about iphone. I recently had to use one to make a call and it took me couple minutes to figure out how to do it. Checking voicemail is not intuitive at all either. So, it all depends on previous experience. iphone isn't any better than windows phone, there are just more iphone users around
        paul2011
      • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

        @paul2011

        I tend to agree with you. Each OS has its own paradigm. If you are experienced with one, then it can take a little while to learn another. However, from what I've seen, anyone with a little tech knowledge should not find it to hard. In reality, what matters is choosing an eco-system, rather than a specific device.
        Wakemewhentrollsgone
      • Visual Voicemail NOT intuitive?

        @paul2011 You touch the phone icon, you touch the voicemail icon, you double-touch the voicemail message you want to hear (or touch it once then touch the play icon). If you're too lazy to hold the phone up to your ear you touch the Speaker button. What part of that couldn't you intuit?

        There are more than a few legitimate gripes about iOS on iPhones, but I don't think very many people would consider the intuitiveness of VVM to be one of them.
        matthew_maurice
      • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

        @cwbuechler@... I am gonna call you on your BS! I don't see how someone would go from a beautiful live tile interface to boring icons!
        By the way I didn't know iPads supported group policy management features.
        How about data encryption on the iPad?
        jatbains
      • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

        @cwbuechler@...

        You should really get out more. WP7 users going backwards to iOS? I understand some people fear change, but I haven't seem anyone confuse a modern interface with iOS or prefer iOS once they've tried WP7 - well except for the trolls here anyway and most of them haven't really touched one.
        tonymcs@...
      • Find that hard to believe

        @cwbuechler@...

        Your entire post is suspect because of the comment "One person I work with couldn't figure out how to make phone calls". You mean the giant button at the top of the home screen with the phone icon isn't clear enough? Either you have mentally handicapped people working there and they shouldn't have a phone at all or you made that entire post up. I'm guessing the latter.
        LiquidLearner
    • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

      @LiquidLearner I agree with most of what you say except for the fact that MS will sell the entire suite for $10 to $15. I think they'll sell each application for $10 to $15 & you get to pick & choose which application you want instead of buying the whole suite.

      Also, I think it's a great idea if MS ports Office to the iPad. Office is still the defacto standard as far as productivity software goes why not rule on two platforms instead of one. Yes it's risky if they do this but it's also risky if they don't especially with the other platforms growing like gangbusters.
      smulji
      • That would probably be nice.

        @smulji

        There are apps I use in Office (Word, Excel, & sometimes Access & PowerPoint), but others I never use (Outlook & One Note), but even most Windows versions require you to get a particular app that you don't need... & the current Windows pricing structure for cherry-picking them makes the stand-alones too expensive.

        But being able to pick & choose for a slightly more reasonable price would be really nice.
        spdragoo@...
    • I think Office would sell millions.

      @LiquidLearner

      And that is at $49/copy. Price it under $50 and make it an app somewhere between the full Office and Office Mobile (get rid of OLE and asome stuff like that) and MS could make a few hundred million.
      Bruizer
      • I think it would sell millions either way

        @Bruizer

        When you look at Office Mobile on WP7, it's not individual apps. It's one app with all the pieces there. I don't see why you would break that apart. And Office Mobile is a good solution. And you have to figure that they would likely get the next version that would come with WP8 next year, probably before WP8 users. So it would probably be better.

        In fact that might be one of my few complaints about my WP7. Bing and Office should be apps that can be updated independantly of the OS. I'm not sure why you would tie those into the entire OS for updates. As it stands Bing Maps is better on iOS/Andorid than it is on WP7. Crazy.
        LiquidLearner
  • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

    Its not too late, it will still be a better product than the current apps on the ipad. Having said that i think its weird that it is being ported now when windows8 tablets are being worked on (Office would be an advantage).
    Frenz9
    • Doesn't exist, already better

      @Frenz9 "it will still be a better product than the current apps on the ipad".

      With the smashing successes MS has had of late who could disagree?;-)
      Richard Flude
      • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

        @Richard Flude
        I'd say the point would be it can never be a better product until it ships.

        To the real question asked today (and not the questions everyone argues every day). Yeah, if the price was 20 bucks per app, I'd pick up Office elements for the iPad.
        DannyO_0x98
  • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

    Why wouldn't I want another option? What do I lose?
    rgor@...
  • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

    Well, one advantage to having Office on an iPhad is that were "Microsoft are planning to bring it???s Office suite of applications to the iPad," entered in Word 2010 (or 2011, assuming MSOffice 2011 for Mac), then "it's" would be properly flagged as ungrammatical.

    ;-)
    dw.needham@...
    • RE: Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

      @dw.needham@... Where is that darn like button??????

      I am so sick of seeing supposed 'journalists' referring to Microsoft in the plural I can't stand it. To me it's no different than saying "Me going to bed now" or something equally as stupid. Microsoft is A corporation, not a group of them.

      Fail, Adrian.
      babyboomer57
  • Bad for Win 8 if it happens

    What if it's a complete flop? Not because it's Microsoft or Office, but because [i]all[/i] those Office-y 'productivity' apps are secretly flops? What if the vast majority of iPad buyers aren't intending to do RealWork(tm) on them? If they have to type a report or crunch numbers, they use a desktop or laptop. Why not? You get the ergonomic chair, a better keyboard, the big monitor... what's not to like? I think all this talk about how there are tens of millions of people just waiting for a chance to do RealWork(tm) on a tablet is so much hooey.

    I'm not saying they won't sell some copies of Office for iPads... just that the volume won't be anything like the volume of iPads. Some Road Warriors will buy it, and some other people who think they need it 'just in case' but who will never use it. But beyond that, who?
    Robert Hahn