Microsoft Office for iPad: Smart way to defend the franchise

There's enough yapping to figure out that Office for the iPad in some form is inevitable. The move is long overdue.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Microsoft is reportedly prepping Office for use on Apple's iPad and the move makes a lot of sense. And if Microsoft really wants to make sense an Android version of Office won't be too hard to find.

The Daily reports that Office is coming to the iPad shortly. Mary Jo Foley has noted these rumblings before and has some more informed speculation. There's enough yapping to figure out that Office for the iPad in some form is inevitable.

Why is Office for rival tablet makers so important? In the end, Office is one of Microsoft's biggest cash cows. The world is going mobile. Tablets may outstrip PCs in terms of units. And Microsoft can't just play the Windows-Office game in the mobile world because it doesn't have the market share.

Bottom line: Waiting to push Office on Windows 8 devices only just doesn't make sense.

Foley's money paragraph:

Microsoft management doesn’t see things with Windows-colored glasses only any more. The Microsoft Business Division — home to Office — makes more money than Windows client does. And that unit has been dabbling with porting Office apps to non-Microsoft platforms for a while now.

In addition, document viewers on tablets are decent, but a real Office would be better.

You can flip a coin and guess whether Microsoft is playing offense or defense with its Office for the iPad move. Here's a look at the arguments:

  • Offense: Microsoft launches Office on the iPad and it becomes a bestselling app overnight (it will). This move gets folks on the iPad used to Microsoft's Metro design. Maybe Office on the iPad seeds the market for Windows 8.
  • Defense: Microsoft realizes that the iPad has won the enterprise with a combination of corporate buying as well as consumerization. The enterprise runs on Office day to day. If Microsoft wants to keep its corporate beachhead it has to get to Apple's platform.

Whatever Microsoft's motives may be Office for the iPad is an idea that's way overdue. There's just too much money at stake even if Microsoft has to hand Apple a cut of revenue for App Store distribution.

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