View From Above

Mar 19 2014   11:22AM GMT

Microsoft finally readies Office for iPad…two years too late

Ron Miller Ron Miller Profile: Ron Miller

two stacked iPad boxes.Over the next couple of weeks, the Microsoft hype machine will be out in full force. It started quietly like a slow moving train leaving the station at the SharePoint Conference a couple of weeks ago. It picked up speed with the OneNote announcement this week, and it will reach warp speed next week when Satya Nadella himself, the new face of Microsoft, is expected to announce Office for the iPad.

You will hear many people say positive things about how Microsoft has new leadership and new direction. You will be told that this is the beginning of the beginning of a new day at Microsoft. You may even believe it because you will hear it a lot from a lot of people who should probably know better.

But when you get down to it, and you look under the hood, and you peer closely at what’s going on, you will see there’s not much to see at all. Sure, Microsoft is presumably coming out with Office for the iPad –see the machine is cranking already –but sorry to be the bearer of bad news,  no matter how much that hype machine spins the news, it can’t get around the fact Microsoft waited way too long for this announcement.

It should have released this two years ago. No, it should have released it three years ago, but Steve Ballmer was probably too fixated on fighting Apple, his Don Quixote-esque quest, to see that if you want to be the software of choice, you have to be on the machine of choice –and people were moving to the iPad in huge numbers. Perhaps Steve was too blinded by his odyssey to see that.

But in 2014, a full five years after the release of the iPad, it’s way, way, way too late for Microsoft to play catch-up now. In fact, no matter how loudly that hype machine drones to the contrary, people simply don’t care enough about Microsoft Office anymore, not the folks who have moved on from a PC-centered world, and if the numbers are true, that’s a lot of people.

Microsoft wants you to believe its Reagan-esque message. It’s morning in Redmond. A new day is dawning, but when you wake up the day after the announcement and the hype machine is jacked up like a meth head, nothing much will have changed.

Microsoft is not exactly a dead company walking, but its best days were over a decade ago when it ruled the desktop world. It still thinks of the world as a desktop, even as it gives a new cloud and mobile message.

The fact is I don’t need a monolithic desktop-style office suite to do my work on a tablet, and if I did, I wouldn’t use a tablet, I would use a laptop. Microsoft’s cloud and mobile strategy to this point sounds great on paper, but when you look at it closely, you see it’s just desktop Microsoft in a different guise.

Look, disrupted companies have come back from the abyss. IBM looked dead in the water in the 90s and it managed to reinvent itself, only to be disrupted again today. Adobe just announced a good quarter as its move from desktop to cloud seems to be working. It could happen that Microsoft suddenly gets it and puts out products for the cloud-mobile paradigm, but don’t expect Office for the iPad to change all that much –no matter what that old hype machine might tell you.

Photo Credit: niXerKG on Flickr. Used under CC 2.0 license.

2  Comments on this Post

 
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  • fgains

    The author is obviously motivated by some unmentioned disdain for Microsoft. If he were not, he would weigh facts, like objective people do. This question to ask is; is there a market of professionals and students big enough to make the development of Office for the iPad profitable? Will Microsoft have a chance to dominate market share of productivity suites on the iPad?

    The answer to both questions based on the number of iPads sold and Microsoft's dominant share in productivity suites is yes. No matter how much this author writes blogs filled with nothing relevant to the actual topic, Office for has projections of a billion dollar business for Microsoft. That's real, not hypeHere:

    “We estimate that if 10% of the iPad install base were to subscribe to Office then this could add 15 million subscribers and generate US$1.1 billion to US$1.5 billion in consumer Office subscription revenue per year,” Bernstein Research analyst Mark Moerdler

    The only actual hype here is the Microsoft is dead, never gonna change type of garbage coming from authors like this. They do their readers a disservice by peddling unsubstantiated claims and ill formed opinions.

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  • jeezuslouise
    If any of the top apps being used on the iPad were document creation tools, then your argument would be valid. Then putting Office on iPad would make sense - crush your competition.

    But what if there isn't anything to compete against? The fact of the matter is that no one wants to create giant documents on a tablet - they use a laptop. 

    I couldn't give a damn about Office on my iPad and I suspect no one else will either. Its a document viewing and minor editing tool. I will never write a 4000w speech or feature on my iPad (which is what I do for a living).

    This isn't an anti-Microsoft bias - his argument is sound.
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