Microsoft Office for iPad and the iPad 3 keynote

Microsoft’s denial of Office for iPad was half-hearted at best, saying only that the story was “based on inaccurate rumors and speculation.” I said at the time the statement was released that something seemed strange.

Microsoft could have come out and said, “these rumors are completely false. We have no plans to offer Office for iPad at this time.” That surely would have put an end to it. But they didn’t do that.

It could be that Microsoft has a place on stage during Apple’s iPad event, which is expected to be held in the next few weeks. That would be the perfect reason for them to issue this half-hearted statement denying the existence of the software for iPad.

Apple likes to highlight cool software for the device it’s introducing, so why not Office? It would be more beneficial for Microsoft than Apple, but still I think Apple would give them a place at the keynote.

I think John Gruber nailed it when he said:

…if Microsoft does get a demo slot on stage during the iPad 3 keynote, Microsoft would be getting much more out of it than Apple.

The days of Microsoft dictating things to Apple are gone. These days Microsoft needs Apple.

  • mgetzski

    Maybe Apple doesn’t need an Office demo to sell more iPads to consumers, but it could definitely boost corporate iPad sales.

    • Jwcorey

      Maybe, but Apple isn’t exactly in a bad place with corporate sales. They recently overtook RIM as the leaders in the Enterprise market.

    • lucascott

      How exactly would it be a boost. It’s not like there isn’t already software on the iPad that can work with .doc etc. 

      And even if it could appeal to some folks I can’t really see Apple using it in the iPad 3 keynote over their own software. What could there possibly be in Office for iPad that is so awesome that it would be a selling point for the iPad, because that is how they pick their demo items. 

      • There are idiosyncrasies with the .doc and .xls format that mean it doesn’t work well with third-party to (or even different versions of) the creating Application. .docx and .xlsx have slightly better compatibility, but third party apps will never support all the features of the document flawlessly. If Microsoft release Office for iPad, they are guaranteeing that all word and excel documents will be fully editable natively. That guarantee is invaluable for some Enterprises, especially those with conservative IT Departments who are resisting new technologies.

        Adobe Reader is still the preferred PDF viewer in the App Store, even though the native PDF viewer is more than adequate for most users. Advanced users can use wonderful Apps like PDF Pen for their custom PDF requirements.

        • mainmac

          Microsoft doesn’t even guarantee full editability on the desktop. We’re always dealing with Windows Office files that don’t work right on Mac. The presumption is that iPad versions will be more tightly integrated with desktop Office than other formats, which is likely enough for most businesses.

      • “What could there possibly be in Office for iPad that is so awesome that it would be a selling point for the iPad”

        The name, Microsoft Office, that’s what.

        Whether you love it or hate it, the corporate world depends on the Office suite. It’s integrated deeply into every corporate IT structure and workflow.

        Whether Office is good or bad stopped being a relevant question over a decade ago. It was the one that won out. It’s the standard. 

        That’s why Office on the iPad matters, no matter what.

  • Microsoft doesn’t need Apple. They do probably want to protect their Office franchise by offering it on the most popular mobile platform, even though it competes with their product pipeline. There’s enough business research to suggest those who need Office would buy Microsoft Windows 8 tablets. So you can understand why Microsoft might be a little cautious about putting this out there on iOS.

    • Well, I am unsure about the broader demographic. But I need Office (which was on the Mac before it was on Windows), but would never buy a Windows Tablet. Much like I never bought a Windows PC

      • Yes you would be precisely the kind of person Microsoft wants to reach with Office for iPad. You haven’t bought into the Windows ecosystem. You aren’t going to buying one of the Windows tablets.

        What Microsoft wants to avoid is encouraging people, those who may be considering Windows tablets, to go ahead and buy an iPad because a great Office experience becomes available on it. There was a recent survey that suggested more than 40% of people wanted Windows on a tablet device than anything else. I imagine for a large segment of business customers Office is a big deal. As mgetzski wrote before me, Office on iPad would be a boost for corporate sales – the lucrative area where Microsoft trumps Apple.

        • Roar Shack

          In other words, no you can’t provide links to “There’s enough business research to suggest those who need Office would buy Microsoft Windows 8 tablets”.

    • Jay Martin

      “There’s enough business research to suggest those who need Office would buy Microsoft Windows 8 tablets.”

      Can you link to the research?

    • Jwcorey

      Where’s this business research? Can you cite it for me?

    • BL17

      There’s lots of consumer research (in my head) to suggest that some people prefer Office to its clones, but also prefer the iPad to its clones.

  • I can’t imagine Microsoft doing a very good job of adapting, say, Word to the iPad’s way of doing things. Assuming it’s even something they’re internally interested in pursuing alongside Metro development.

  • matthewmaurice

    I sent that original Tweet to MG. I was mentally riffing on his post about my enemy’s enemy being my friend, and it occurred to me that Google would probably be terrified of the visual of Microsoft reps on stage with Apple at the iPad3 announcement. I agree with Gruber, Apple doesn’t need Microsoft, but I also believe that both Microsoft and Apple want to take Google off the set and then fight it out amongst themselves. MS leveraging the Enterprise to get/keep consumers, Apple getting more and more consumers who bring them into the enterprise. Google is vulnerable to both Microsoft and Apple on either end of that continuum, and with a little co-ordination they could probably kill Android, at least on tablets, and then turn to each other.

  • Microsoft Office is bigger than Windows! makes more profit for Microsoft! 

    Its logical that MS would bring Office to the iPad since its growing like mad!

    This would generate a lot of $ for MS and also this would help boost iPad in the business world!

    Its best interest for both companies to build and promote office on the iPad!

    after reading your article i am 99% convised about hearing about ms office on the iPad next month when the iPad is unveiled!

    will boost iPad sales even more and will surely help MS sell more of its Office pruducts and help them keep their customers do using office other then looking for alternatives!

    I for one am simply waiting for full iCloud integration with Pages/Numbers on the mac to drop office completley. Of MS gets on the iPad wagon with a cloud solution i will rethink that!

  • Office makes way more money per license for Microsoft than Windows does.  Microsoft definitely wants to sell Office for iOS. You don’t sacrifice your cow to save the chicken.  

    Nobody knows if a Windows-8-exclusive for Office would drive Windows tablet sales — it would certainly drive some.  But compare that to how many copies of Office Microsoft could sell to iOS users.

    This also makes sense as a way to marginalize Android.  Incidentally, Office for Android would probably have a hard time selling due to price point and tablet user base being so small.  Android users typically don’t shell out money for apps — they find the “free alternatives” like Google Docs.  So I don’t know if Android represents an opportunity for Microsoft.  Certainly, iPad represents an opportunity for Microsoft.

    Sign me up to buy Office for iPad on Day 1 of availability.

    • matthewmaurice

      Yeah, you’ll never see Office for Android. MS gets a license on every Android handset made by HTC and others, but they don’t want to see Android tablets get any traction. Office for iPad recognizes a truth (i.e. the iPad has arrived and sold many millions of units). Office for Android just gives your mortal enemy a leg up. 

  • billdapp

    Individual iPad apps for Word, Excel, PPT, and OL would be great for both Apple and Microsoft and prevent Google Apps from gaining more traction.  Onlive Desktop acheives alot of this but the non local file issue is a pain point currentlly

  • JohnDoey

    Microsoft Office won’t even run in Metro on Windows 8 ARM tablets. The whole traditional Windows interface is coming along just as a Classic Environment for Microsoft Office. I highly doubt Microsoft has done the touch work to make an iPad version of Office.

    And if you want to run Office on iPad, you can already do it for free with OnLive Desktop. And for $10, add Keynote and you get a better presentation app with virtual laser pointer and touch slide reordering.