When Microsoft started releasing its core apps on competing mobile platforms I confess I wasn't sure it was a good idea. When Office was released for the iPad I scratched my head along with many others wondering why the Redmondians would do that, and before offering a version on its own OS.
A little time has passed and my own experience now suggests that the strategy is sound. I spend most of my time in the mobile world, and I am using Microsoft software more than I have in years.
It started with Microsoft's Office suite. After using it heavily in the corporate world for over a decade, I set it aside several years ago. I still worked with Office documents but turned to third-party mobile office suites to do so.
This was primarily due to the lack of mobile versions of Office. I found alternatives and used them instead of Microsoft Office on the desktop. The alternative apps had document compatibility issues at first, but those were quickly addressed and I reached a point where I used them solely on iOS and Android. Microsoft's Office apps were set aside and rarely touched.
Then came the Office for iPad apps from Microsoft, part of the "apps everywhere" strategy. Like many others, I downloaded the apps and gave them a try. During my testing, it didn't take long to determine how good they were.
The touch operation on the iPad is very well done. Working with Excel spreadsheets and Word documents with touch control is ideal for me given my mobile focus. Office for iPad quickly became my preferred method of working with documents. Even if working at my desk on a Mac or Windows PC, I'll grab the iPad to work on a spreadsheet.
When the preview edition of Office became available for Android I quickly tried it. I found it just as good as the iPad version I like so much. Working with documents by touch fits my work style, and I haven't used one of those third-party office suites for months.
Until recently, that is. I use one of several mobile devices each day for my remote work, and one day I grabbed the Kindle Fire HDX and headed out. That afternoon I was confronted with the need to work on a spreadsheet sent to me.
I was going to fire up Excel, but remembered that Microsoft Office apps (except OneNote) are not available on the Kindle Fire yet. Those tablets don't have access to the Google Play store, so you can't install the Android preview.
I stared at the screen for a while until firing up a third-party app to work on the Excel spreadsheet. It wasn't bad but it wasn't Microsoft Office. That session made me realize that I not only prefer Microsoft Office to the competition, I even like using it.
Microsoft's plan to get its core apps on every mobile platform is working, if my experience is typical. I went from not using Office at all to preferring it over other mobile options. That is a major shift for me and a big win for the folks in Redmond. If anything, it shows how important Microsoft's apps everywhere strategy is. It is in the position of bringing former customers back into the fold.
The Office apps aren't the only ones Microsoft is pushing everywhere. Look in the Apple and Google app stores and you see quite a few, and many are top downloads. I suspect they'll convert other defectors like me with apps on other platforms, and apps done well. I'm already giving Outlook a good try on iOS. I hope Microsoft gets the core apps released soon for the Kindle Fire HDX. I miss them.