Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012

Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012

Summary: Watch for Microsoft to continue to roll out more of its productivity wares on non-Microsoft platforms in 2012, an official with the Office 365 team says.


It was a week of rapid-fire releases of Microsoft apps for non-Microsoft mobile platforms, but Microsoft's not done yet.

In 2012, expect more Microsoft productivity wares to come to various mobile platforms, including Android, said Tom Rizzo, Senior Director of Office 365.

"We want to work where people work, whether it's online or offline, and on various platforms," Rizzo told me during a phone interview on December 16.

Microsoft rolled out this week an updated version of OneNote for the iPhone; a new release of OneNote for the iPad; a SkyDrive cloud-storage app for iPhone; a Lync client for Android; and Hotmail for Android. (Lync for iPhone is still awaiting Apple's approval, the Softies said this week. Officials declined to say when/if they'd have a SkyDrive app customized for the iPad.)

Why not more focus on Android -- which is actually ahead of the iPhone in terms of smartphone share? One of my readers wondered aloud whether it might be because Microsoft considers Android tablets more of a threat because of the success of Google Docs. Not the case, said Rizzo, who said Microsoft's prioritization of mobile releases is based on customer feedback and demand.

"Android is more of a consumer device play. But iOS and iPad are mattering more in the enterprise," Rizzo said.

(Microsoft plans to make its Office productivity apps work first and best with Windows Phone, he was quick to add. And nope -- no update on those rumors that Microsoft will deliver Office on the iPad in some fashion in 2012.)

A couple more Rizzo razzes from our interview today:

* He denied that Microsoft's claimed success with small business users with Office 365 means the Microsoft-hosted bundle of Exchange, SharePoint and Lync isn't gaining traction with enterprise users. "We are being successful in the enterprise and have announced names of some big customers going with Office 365," Rizzo said. He also said that Microsoft's large number of enterprise users of Office 365's predecessor, BPOS, are moving to Office 365, but that such a move takes time.

* What about an Office 365 appliance? Could Microsoft offer Office 365 in a box -- the way it planned to offer Azure in a box -- i.e., as a private-cloud appliance running outside of Microsoft's datacenters? Customers who want to run Office 365 this way can do it themselves, Rizzo said, minus the "magic sauce" that Microsoft provides as part of its Online Service Delivery Platform around commerce, billing, etc. "Customers can do this today without us packaging it up and selling it this way," he said. Or they can rely on a partner/hosting provider to do it for them.

* Microsoft isn't afraid to put on the gloves and go on the Google Apps offensive these days. Rizzo attempted to spread a little FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) by rattling off some statistics about how small a percentage of sales Google Apps is compared to Google's overall revenues. He asked whether Google Apps could fall into the category of less-central products that are being sent to the Google chopping block. "Google Apps is just a footnote in Google's repetoire," Rizzo maintained. (For the record, Microsoft is doing the same kind of weaning of products -- and business units -- that its brass no longer consider central to its core business.)

Speaking of the Microsoft-Google rivalry, doesn't free still win every time? Microsoft officials continue to say there are no plans to roll out a free entry-level version of Office 365. But with a $6 per user per month SKU available -- the price of a cup of a fancy Starbucks beverage, Rizzo quipped -- Microsoft thinks it finally has a small-business package to rival Google.

* Besides more mobile productivity clients, what else is coming in 2012 on the Office 365 front? Rizzo said Microsoft plans to continue on its quarterly update pace, with some on-premises features (like some of the improvements added to Exchange Server 2010 SP2) making their way into the cloud, plus some new cloud-specific capabilities for the point products that are part of the Office 365 suite.

Topics: Collaboration, Android, Google, Microsoft, Mobility, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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
  • RE: Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012

    Supporting Android justifies enterprises decision to dump Windows tablets (if any)while not supporting Android weakens Office dominence, the only dominent devision of Microsoft. iPad is a different story the whole Apple product lines is a different story, unlike Android products they are for customers who wants to pay premium money.
    And about the price I think as long as they offer premium high quality software users go for it as there has n't been a challenge from OpenOffice so far.
    • RE: Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012

      >>Supporting Android justifies enterprises decision to dump Windows tablets (if any)
      I haven't seen any Android Tablet in the offices and probably there won't be in near future, even if Microsoft office is available there. The issue is Enterprises don't want to compromise on security otherwise why would they heavily invested BlackBerry in the first place. Anything related to mobility, security comes first and enterprises learned this longtime back in a hardway. And with malware infested Android Market, it would be no go in the first place. In the absense of BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad make sense definitely and since enterprises are invested in Windows ecosystem, switching to Windows 8 would be easier.
      Ram U
      • RE: Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012

        @Rama.NET Android is much more volatile than iOS or Windows devices, without stable roadmaps, and support periods. This is issue for enterprises, but not for small businesses, which are more agile, and more cost averse. They do not want to spend money to get sharepoint consultant, or time to learn how to setup it by themselves (Office 365). They are main client for Google Docs and Android.
    • RE: Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012

      Hurry up with SkyDrive for Android and it better work with tablets too!

      I know I'd find it incredibly useful. The unofficial Sorami Android app works well but it could be so much better.

      The Hotmail app is just a re-branded Seven Mail client, which is just an EAS app. It does nothing all the other E-Mail apps compatible with EAS can do.

      I was going to say an MSN Messenger app would be good but apps like eBuddy are better suited to this.
  • Is it just me...

    Or do these guys spend a lot more time talking about the neat stuff they're going to do than actually doing it?
  • RE: Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012

    Hello Mary-Jo:

    You didn't say if you "really think" that Microsoft Office (at least the 3 main ones Word, Excel, Power Point) will come to the iPad.

    About Open Office for iOS and Android...its coming. Under development, although could have license problems with the Apple store....

    For "home users" Office is not a "must". I feel fine with pages and numbers on my iPad, more than an "average" user could need. But of the office... is a different story

    Outlook is not a must since the current mail app support the microsoft mail/calendar iOS, and i think in android

    This is the million dollars question right now.Word and Excel on the iPad yes or no..
    • RE: Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012

      @zdwater Office is important to a lot of consumers. At least consumers with school age children.

      My elementary aged son, junior HS and sophomore daughters use Word and PowerPoint for school assignments all of the time. Pages or Keynote are not an option, whether on Mac or iPad. We tried OO for a while but when the cross formatting issues start affecting grades then it's a false economy.
  • RE: Microsoft exec: More multi-platform mobile products coming in 2012

    Any chance of having a Zune service client (preferably rebranded from *Zune*) for Android/iOS? That's the one I'd be delighted to see, and one of my '12 things Microsoft should do in 2012' :)