Microsoft continues to stonewall on Office for iOS, but has a suggestion for iPad users

by David Needle

February 28 2013

Microsoft Office for the iPad remains on hold and may never see the light of day.
Microsoft Office for the iPad remains on hold and may never see the light of day.

Will Microsoft ever release a version of Office for the iPad? That question has been percolating since last year amid rumors the software giant had in fact developed just such a product, but put its release on indefinite hold.

By at least one analyst’s estimate Microsoft could be missing out on as much as $2.5 billion dollars in revenue by not releasing Office for iPad. But the reason is simple, the company wants to give Windows tablets, particularly its own Surface RT and Windows 8 models, every advantage versus giving potential buyers one more reason to favor the iPad.

The issue came up again today at Morgan Stanley's Technology, Media & Telecom Conference where Office division President Kurt DelBene was one of the speakers.

As CNet reported, Delbene towed the company line, saying the premium tablet experience for Office is on Surface RT and Surface Pro devices running Windows 8.

As for the iPhone and iPad, DelBene said that users can view Office files, such as Excel spreadsheets, on Microsoft's SkyDrive storage service.

“We think we have a pretty good cross-device product today," DelBene said. "In the future, you should expect to see us bet on SkyDrive even more.”

But iPad users also have many other Office-compatible options for the iPad they can turn to including Google's Quickoffice and a recently introduced Accellion Mobile Productivity Suite

Microsoft recently released an update to the Office 365 version of its business apps suite, that is available on an online subscription basis. DeBene reportedly said he hopes Microsoft’s entire Office business eventually shifts to a subscription model.

He also noted Microsoft is moving quickly to integrate Skype and Yammer, an enterprise social media service, into Office. Microsoft paid billions to acquire both companies. 

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  • BobbyDooley
    1 year 7 months ago

    It's difficult to see how Microsoft will make a profit.

    Apple developed the iWork Suite-- Numbers = Excel,
    Pages = Word,
    Keynote = PowerPoint.

    Each app is crazy cheap- $9.99 each, and handles Microsoft Versions of files very well.

    Also, Apple has free iCloud Storage that competes with SkyDrive.

    There are other software packages too-- QuickOffice Pro, for example.

    The biggest difference is price between the two platforms. A license to Office usually costs as much as an entry-level iPad, so I don't know how they will price a tablet version to adequately compete with Apple.

    The neat thing however, is all the free classes and training Apple provides at its retail locations and Genius Bar if the iPad has warranty troubles.

    Apple really got ahead of the game on this one. It's time for Microsoft to step up.

  • Mike_
    1 year 8 months ago

    Call me naive, but doesn't Microsoft's mindset run counter to the whole idea of the mobile era? I admit that I haven't used a Surface yet, so I may be missing something here. But if past attempts at compelling people are any indication (take your pick through history), Microsoft's stance would appear short-sighted.

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