iOS

Microsoft Office for iOS to hit iPhones, iPads

The details of the deal are still being worked out, but Erik Eckel looks forward to Microsoft Office coming to Apple iOS devices soon.

Microsoft Office is the de facto standard productivity suite. Most every enterprise organization, medium-sized firm, small business, nonprofit, educational institution, government agency and residential user have essentially standardized on the platform or at least officially adopted Microsoft's default file formats within their offices.

Despite often being the target of denigration-Word is too bloated, Excel takes too long to load, PowerPoint makes developing simple presentations difficult, etc.-the productivity suite is best-served to power Apple users on the go. I've already made the case that Office is the best platform for Mac users. But it's also the best option for mobile iOS users, too.

Poorly kept secret

If the impending release of Microsoft Office for iOS was to be a surprise, the secret was poorly kept. Numerous websites and various bloggers are regularly reporting leaks, specifications, and even details plaguing potential payment rates being negotiated between Apple and Microsoft.

High stakes

Make no mistake. The stakes are very high. Microsoft Office for iOS is likely to become the platform's leading paid app soon after release. For this reason, both Apple and Microsoft must prove comfortable with the compensation rates both receive; sales will prove impressive. In mid December, however, negotiations were reportedly reaching a peak as the two parties approached an impasse regarding the manner in which Microsoft would receive payment for SkyDrive or Office 365 subscription services. Apple was purportedly pursuing 30% of revenue from Microsoft's cloud-based service sales originated on the iOS platform, even if the originating users should later leave iOS for, say, the Droid platform.

Consistent compatibility is key

Users, and not just mobile users, lead incredibly frenetic lives, now. Contemporary professions and lifestyles demand users remain connected to the office and others while managing an array of other tasks and obligations. Practically everyone, as a result, runs around picking up children, commuting, traveling, running errands, attending events and more while returning email, following up on calls, texting and even monitoring processes, systems and people.

There's little spare time to convert a portable document, work around mobile application errors in a spreadsheet, or recompile slides when on the go. Users require their adopted mobile platforms prove seamless. Without Office for iOS, however, that's sometimes a stretch.

Sometimes a user (employing a desktop computer or laptop) drafts a document or spreadsheet, sends it to another individual or group of people, then receives edits back that prove inaccessible only because the originating user is now trying to view the updates or changes from an iOS device. Or maybe a mobile user received an attachment that, without Office-compatible software loaded, proves inaccessible on iOS devices.

Consistent compatibility is the key to simplifying mobile iOS users' daily operations. Apple's done well building its own mobile document (Pages), spreadsheet (Numbers) and presentation (Keynote) applications, but others often don't possess compatible software or create files using those programs. Further, Apple's lost the productivity suite fight to Microsoft, which owns the space. iOS users-too busy to reformat files, troubleshoot application crashes, return to the office to review updates, request someone resend a file or implement some other workaround-simply need their productivity apps to work well with other users. With Microsoft bringing proven Word, Excel and likely PowerPoint applications to iOS devices, now even iOS users will be able to enjoy the standardization and consistency that have long been hallmarks for Windows' users.

About

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...

8 comments
Gisabun
Gisabun

Hopefully Microsoft sticks them with the "moderrn" interface. That would be funny!

Photog7
Photog7

Well, personally I'm hoping that this Office introduction will coincide with the new iPad being introduced in March, and will include a mouse option and/or Wacom stylus that would give true precision to text selection. Otherwise, I'll be tempted to sell my iPad and buy one of the many new tablets that have both of those features already.

jdiego2009
jdiego2009

I'm sure that both parties are aware of the impact of this move on Android tablets as a professional tool. And that Microsoft expects to gain marketshare for W8 tablets...

Randy Hagan
Randy Hagan

I want Microsoft Office for my iPad, provided it's at a reasonable, finite price. But I don't trust, want or desire Apple handling my subscription services "for me." It's why I use gift cards to charge my iTunes/iBooks/AppStore/Newsstand accounts. Just because I have a credit card doesn't mean that I'm interested in giving it to Apple to use as it wishes ...

Ben_in_CA
Ben_in_CA

What Microsoft could do is charge 30% more if you sign up for a hosted service on an iOS device - then people would have that option if they only have an Apple device, and the extra money goes to Apple. Or they could sign up on their PC, etc. and get the 30% discount - and then just use the service on iOS.

PracticingITPM
PracticingITPM

I look forward to having Office on my iPad. But on my phone? Seriously? That would be like mounting a snow plow on a Vespa motor scooter.

Slayer_
Slayer_

It just works because the iPhone is just a small iPad with a phone attachment.

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