Why Ballmer doesn't want Office on the iPad

Why Ballmer doesn't want Office on the iPad

Summary: Microsoft is still tied to Windows and the PC industry, and putting the flagship Office suite on the iPad would give the competing platform additional traction.


Over 120 million iPads have sold since their unveiling by the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs in April of 2010, yet Microsoft's flagship Office suite continues to be noticeably absent from the tablet.

But why?

There have been plenty of rumors that an iOS-compatible version of popular applications such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are in the pipeline, but so far nothing has materialized. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is "happy with the product that we're putting in market" and said it "makes sense on the devices like the Mac and the PC," while at the same time not commenting on the obvious elephant in the room--the lack of iOS support.

If Microsoft wants Office on the iPad, then Office would be on the iPad. The company would even be willing to swallow Apple's 30 percent commission on apps sold through its App Store to make that happen if it were important. But Office is not on iOS because Microsoft doesn't want it there.

This isn't to say that some within Microsoft wouldn't like to see Office on iOS. One source described the prospect of making the suite available to the iPad user base as "a goldmine."

So why no Office for iOS?

There are several reasons. Let's examine a few.

First, making Office available to the tens of millions of iPad owners--many of them business and enterprise users--would seriously harm Microsoft's ability to sell Windows 8-powered tablets, even its own Surface and Surface Pro hardware. Putting Office on the iPad would eliminate one of the key reasons for enterprise to adopt tablets running Windows 8.

One less Windows 8-powered tablet sold means one less Windows license sold.

Several OEM sources have also expressed concern at the prospect of Microsoft releasing a version of Office for iOS, fearing that the move would give the iPad even more traction--if such a thing is possible--and send PC sales into an even steeper tailspin. PC sales are already in an unhappy state, and putting the Office suite on the platform could be a terminal tipping point for the industry as a whole.

Another problem is that Microsoft--at least the Office division--appears to be unfamiliar with the current app model as promoted by Apple. Microsoft is comfortable with pushing out a new version of Office every few years, having it replace the older version. But this is not how apps work, and buyers--consumers and enterprise alike--like the new model of buying an app once and then receiving a continuous trickle of free updates over time.

Embracing apps would mean embracing a new way of doing business.

This is why we don't have the Office suite on our iPads.

Topics: Microsoft, iPad, Microsoft Surface, Windows 8

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  • Inertia...

    Businesses have already adopted the iPad and iOS in mass. Why would they ditch that for Windows 8 tablets and all the headaches those bring?

    They will just continue to move to more standard doc formats and use products that are comparable reducing MS's revenue further.
    • Now, if only you actually believed what you wrote

      then you wouldn't feel so upset at the moment.
      William Farrel
      • I don't care one way or the other

        I've got an iPad and QuickOffice which works well enough for me.

        Not having Office doesn't seem to be hurting iPad sales or adoption.
        • Thats tells volume about your competancy.

          • Hoist on your own petard

            "competency" tells us volumes about your lack of competency.
        • Quickoffice?

          How would you say it compares to the iWork trinity on the iPad? I have Pages, so I was wondering.
          Michael Alan Goff
          • Good question!

            "Quickoffice? How would you say it compares to the iWork trinity on the iPad? I have Pages, so I was wondering."

            Me too. I always prefer to use a PC or Mac to write up documents, but when I am away from home and the office, Pages on the iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard is a lifesaver.

            Thanks, Mr Goff; so nice to read a post from someone who isn't religiously rabid about MS, Apple or Linux, and is interested to discuss the relative merits of each - unlike the many maniacal morons on here who froth at the mouth at the slightest suggestion that Microsoft products may be less than utterly perfect.
          • To learn instead of berate..

            what a grown up attitude. Kudos!
        • The I-pad doesn't work well

          for many businesses. Most are built upon a Windows infrastructure so it makes sense to use a Windows system that ships with the proper controls to be managed by IT. Our organization watched a demo of what Ipad can do and we decided to wait for the Windows solution.
      • I would love to see IT

        try and pry the iPads out of employees hands here and try and make them use a Surface. Not going to happen. Many users here (Government department) use their personal iPads to begin with. I don't really think many want to bring the Windows "experience" to their tablets. It is something they have finally been able to free themselves from.
        • cow cow

          really? how? when? i dont see business ditching many years of investments made in their own IT systems because the CEO likes his iPaid

          fanboy talking
          Master Wayne
          • "fanboy talking"

            Yes, you certainly are.
          • So ...

            The bussines has to pay for a tablet that the worker won't use because he already has an android tab or an iPad?
          • It happens all the time.

            I've seen companies switch to OS/2 because the CEO thinks so. I've seen companies abandon WordPerfect Suite and Lotus Groupware products despite fully trained staff and satisfaction with functionality... all because the CEO thinks it's a good idea. I've seen corporate database development tools changed at great expense because the Ingress sales rep managed to become a golfing partner with, you guessed it, the CEO.
            Those are 3 different companies over 25 years.

            Lets face it, lots of companies are providing iPads to their staff in place of Windows machines that would cost them less (both to purchase and to integrate and support), just because senior execs are fond of their own iPads, not because it really keeps costs down.
            Nevil Read
      • Trouble is...

        apparently you *DO* believe the rubbish you write!

        Sad, really.
      • FEAR...

        Microsoft knows they can't. It's called FEAR!
    • Sure

      I am going to bite the bullet and suggest my boss to get rid of all the laptops and desktop and give everyone an ipad instead. Whilst I am at it, I might even suggest to ripp out of all of the power consuming blades and replace them with ARM powered pos. After all why do we need performance, we might as well not work at all.

      Centralised managment and data security might also be thrown out.

      Something tells me after tommorow I might be out of a job suggesting such an idiotic thing.
      • why such a harsh comment

        noone suggested you to drop the whole infrastructure.. personally I would say there is not much need for office on tablet. honestly, how much time you will be able to spend in office on tablet *productively*.. and compare it to comfort of laptop. yes, it could be a major marketing/selling point but actually you dont need anything more than a viewer on the tablet. and this will not going to change for majority of businesses. i will eat my leg if I am wrong.
        • Wasn't the allure of ARM tablets

          ...was that not all people are producers and tablets are perfect for consumption? I mean, if we are to make these tablets really good production devices then the original intention/marketing of having tablets is lost.
      • You should be fired for wasting the company money

        If my employee ever make such a statement, I'll deem her/him as unfit for work and show her/him the door. After all, iPad is good for a narrow set of office work if only it has the right apps loaded. In fact, for the narrow scope of "need", Nexus 10 or the cheaper alternatives with lower resolution cost much less than the insanely expensive iPads. In any case, such employee is unfit for employment.