Why you won't see Office for iPad, Android -- at least for now

Why you won't see Office for iPad, Android -- at least for now

Summary: If you want Microsoft Office for Android or iOS, then you'd better hope that Windows-powered tablets fall flat on their face.

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TOPICS: Windows
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There's a very good reason why we've not seen a version of Microsoft's Office suite for iPads and Android devices, and it has everything to do with Microsoft wanting to give enterprise a reason to choose Windows 8 or Windows RT tablets over tablets powered by Android and iOS.

Microsoft has vigorously denied claims that that an Office for iPad exists and will be rolled out in time for an upcoming SharePoint conference in November, and ZDNet's Jason Perlow speculates that Office for the Android and iOS platforms exists as long as you redefine what an "app" is.

While I think that Perlow comes up with some solid reasoning as to why Office might not work as a traditional 'app', the real reason why Microsoft hasn't yet bought Office to the iPad and the myriad of Android tablets out there is that it needs to keep this ace up its sleeve for itself.

With Windows 8, Microsoft is one again getting ready to try to convince us that tablets -- specifically, Windows-powered tablets -- are the future. Problem is, Microsoft is entering this game at a very late stage.

Apple has flooded the market with millions of iPads, and Android is doing a very good job of mopping up the budget end of the market with devices such as the Kindle Fire. This leaves Microsoft having to play catch-up in a market already well saturated with tablets.

Microsoft has a lot riding on Windows 8. In a radical departure from previous version of Windows, this platform sweeps aside the traditional keyboard and mouse input system that people know and love, and instead replaces it with a user interface designed to be controlled by touch as the primary mechanism.

It's a massive gamble, and even Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has admitted that it's the "riskiest product bet yet for Microsoft".

Given that Windows 8 is so different and a risky product, and that Microsoft can ill-afford to end up with 'another Vista' on its hands, the Redmond-based giant needs all the help it can muster.

Which is why it's turning to Microsoft Office.

Love it or loathe it, Microsoft Office is one of those killer Windows applications that enterprise users continue to have a love affair with. Wherever Microsoft makes Office available, enterprise will follow.

And this is Microsoft's gamble with Office. If it makes Office available on all tablets, irrespective of operating system, then enterprise users are free to choose whatever platform suits them. But if Microsoft keeps Office exclusive for Windows powered tablets -- both Windows 8 and Windows RT, which we know will come with Office apps installed -- then that gives both the company and the platform a massive advantage, especially with enterprise customers -- which, as Microsoft knows -- is where a lot of the money is.

This is precisely the same reason why Nintendo doesn't make the hugely popular Mario franchise available on platforms such as iOS. While it would be a massive money-spinner, it would put Nintendo's future in jeopardy if gamers no longer had to buy Nintendo hardware in order to play the classic game.

The way I see it is that Microsoft isn't going to consider releasing Office for iOS and Android until it sees how Windows 8, specifically Windows 8 on tablets, does in the marketplace. If Windows 8 and Windows RT-powered tablets do well, then it's possible that Microsoft will keep Office as a Windows exclusive as far as tablets are concerned. However, if Windows tablets falter then Microsoft might as well cut its losses, admit defeat once again in the tablet market, and develop a version of Office for iOS and Android.

If you want Microsoft Office for Android or iOS, then you'd better hope that Windows-powered tablets fall flat on their face.

Image source: Microsoft.

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Topic: Windows

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22 comments
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  • QuickOffice for Android/iOS

    If MS don't release Office for Android and iOS then QuickOffice might take some slice on Enterprise using iOS
    korseypig
    • Interesting

      And what does it mean that Google just purchased QuickOffice?
      Nubsors
  • I agree with you

    It was hard to see Microsoft giving direct competitors the upper hand unless the company is subliminally saying, we don't need Windows anymore. With the bundling of Office on Windows RT, it definitely makes it an enticing value proposition. I know I am definitely buying one when its released (or I probably should wait until second gen Windows RT devices appear).
    MrDee38
  • Why?

    Because there is no such things right now.
    yanglifu90
  • Not True

    This statement simply is not true...

    "In a radical departure from previous version of Windows, this platform sweeps aside the traditional keyboard and mouse input system that people know and love, and instead replaces it with a user interface designed to be controlled by touch as the primary mechanism."

    Windows 8 works just as well with a mouse and keyboard as Windows 7. AND it works great with touch too!
    clcrockett
    • Errr....

      When you need to learn keyboard shortcuts to get around what was previous available through the Startt menu, there is a problem.
      Gisabun
  • The other risk...

    The other risk for Microsoft is that Office enterprise users that want to migrate to tablets (iPads, Android) find alternatives that allow them to be just as productive without the licensing overhead of Office. That's the real balancing act here. I don't see many iPad enterprise deployments sitting around waiting to Office...they simply find alternatives that produce compatible formats.

    As far as Windows 8 tablet falling flat on it's face, I truly believe it will come down to portability and battery life. If Win8 tablets can't match or better iPads on weight and battery life then it's going to be tough road. It's worth noting that Microsoft has said little to nothing regarding Windows 8 battery life performance. If this is one of those things that will still vary from device-to-device then that spells trouble for enterprise end users.
    windowseat
  • No need for a long drawn out answer

    It's unneeded.

    Nobody wants to put M$ bloat on their device when not forced to.

    See, simple.
    timspublic1@...
    • Not really true

      MS Office is probably the single most well regarded product by Microsoft. A LOT of people want Office for their devices. So I don't know what you are talking about.
      Nubsors
      • Why would I pay

        when I don't have too? Unneeded.

        MS Office is loosing share, not just because LibreOffice is so good but because it is again FREE. Of course that example only applies to desktops...with keyboard/mouse.

        There has been a free office suite included in Android for some time. Why pay for MS version...and no it won't be the same as their desktop version. Makes no sense when you can use free software on your phone/tablet and the very same files if you still use MS Office on the desktop.
        timspublic1@...
    • Err....

      So you have absolutely nothing from Microsoft?
      Last I checked Apple OSs are getting bloaty. iOS 5 requires almost about twice the amount of space as iOS 4. Can't be Siri. :-)
      Gisabun
  • Wrong on "late stage". This is still the early stage of tablets. And theyre

    not at the "late stage" for smartphones either for that matter. Wake up. And youre "this platform sweeps aside the traditional keyboard and mouse input system that people know and love" is completely assinine. W8 works great for all day everyday use with mouse and keyboard on non touch screen devices, both metro and desktop. Doing it myself with no problems whatsoever. W8 tablets will have plenty of appeal to enterprizes and consumers with or without office. Plus there's always O65 for ios/android already that totally crushes google docs on both usability and price/user
    Johnny Vegas
    • price?

      what price? G docs is free.
      timspublic1@...
  • Why you won't see Office for iPad, Android -- at least for now

    But BGR says they saw it! A site like that wouldn't post rumors and lies.
    Loverock Davidson-
  • Office on the tablet is not the same as Office on the desktop

    "Microsoft Office is one of those killer Windows applications that enterprise users continue to have a love affair with. Wherever Microsoft makes Office available, enterprise will follow."

    1) Over the past five years, hundreds of millions of smart phone and tablet owners have discovered that you don't need Microsoft Office in order to be productive.

    2) Microsoft Office will have to be completely reconfigured from the ground up in order to work on Windows RT and the Metro portions of Windows 8 tablets. It will not, can not, in any way be the same suite of programs.

    3) I'm sure that Microsoft will do it's very best to have its Metro version of Office compliment it's desktop version of Office, but the two programs will have no more compatibility than any other touch based and mouse based programs do. Microsoft Office will have to compete against every other presentation, spreadsheet, word processor, etc. App. It will have no monopolistic advantage - other than the fact that it is going to be bundled with Windows RT.

    Conclusion: I don't think that Microsoft Office on the tablet will prove to be the be all and end all that you make it out to be.
    Falkirk
    • Two different applications!

      Just try to do serious productive work with any of the Office applications without a keyboard. Tap, tap, scratch, tap, tap... just doesn't "do it."
      TsarNikky
  • Leaving Money on the Table

    Hasn't the iPad customer base, in its first 2-1/2 years, already surpassed the numbers of people who have Macs? And whether or not there are more Windows PCs than Android and iPhones, have you seen the growth numbers?

    $20 from each mobile customer and - KA-Ching - that there's some real money. And how much does Microsoft get from a Win8 license for the tablets and smartphones, which are still unreleased and unproven?

    Meanwhile, are people really deferring writing and spreadsheets until they get official Office? Does one really want people to learn how to get by without the apps?

    But, hey, they have more MBAs than I do. It might work out.
    DannyO_0x98
    • Pretty much

      I wouldn't bet anything on this that I wasn't ready to part with, but I would probably put it at 2-1 that Microsoft thought about this, 5-1 that they have it in the playbook, and about 10-1 that they will actually do it. I doubt they would reject this out of hand, if only because there is an exploitable market ready to be picked.
      Third of Five
  • Errr.....

    I read from a more legitimate columnist/blogger, Office for the iPad will be out next spring.
    Gisabun
  • There will be no Office for iOS or Android

    It's just not going to happen.
    symbolset