Should Office Remain A Tablet Exclusive For Windows 8?

So once again I run across an article that is strongly suggesting that Microsoft MUST release an Android/iOS version of its popular Office software.

According to the eWeek article this affords Microsoft with a major money-making opportunity that they shouldn’t turn down. The article also talks about how combined with Office, Android and iPad tablets (and ARM laptops) could eventually overtake and maybe even replace conventional x86 laptops. Not a bad article and certainly worth a read.

Of course, I honestly disagree that putting Office on Android or iOS is a good idea. Don’t get me wrong, it does provide a huge financial opportunity for Microsoft- at least as an immediate financial return. In the long run though, it could cost the company much more.

In past Windows8update.com posts most of the writers here have expressed the opinion that releasing Office for iOS/Android is a double edged sword. Yes, it gives Microsoft a huge opportunity to cash in on the iPad and Kindle Fire success, but at the same time it loses a feature that could really set Windows 8 tablets apart from the crowd.

I realize that a fully functioning Mac version of Office is out there and it doesn’t hurt the Windows customer base. The reason why the Mac version doesn’t hurt Windows (at least not significantly), is that Windows is an established product.

Windows 8 on tablets isn’t established and it needs all the exclusive features it can muster in order to win the hearts of consumers that have largely invested in iPads, Kindle Fires, Nook Tablets, and Android-based generic tablets.

So why would Microsoft consider porting Office to iOS/Android now, before the release of Windows 8? Due to the possible delay of W8 tablets until early 2013, they might feel that they need to get Office onto the mobile scene now.

At the same time, releasing Office first for iOS/Android could look to outsiders like Microsoft isn’t confident that Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablets will have a large enough market penetration to make it worth being an exclusive.

Now, I actually am not at all opposed to Office on iPad and Android, I just think that it should come months (or even a year or so) after Windows 8 tablets have had a chance to win the hearts of business-oriented tablet users and the enterprise.

Waiting shouldn’t hurt the company too much since their really is no worthy competing product out there and no worthy office competing product in works either.

Maybe Novel should buy back WordPerfect rights now, build it for iOS and run away with tons of cash as a way of sticking it to Microsoft (will that Novel/Microsoft trial ever really end?) It’s a funny thought, but not plausible I know.

If Microsoft can dominate the tablet market with killer features like highly integrated social features like Skype, a highly integrated Office experience, Zune integration, and a powerful Windows Media Center based around Metro it will have more than enough features to at least set it apart from the competition.

This doesn’t mean it is set for success, just that it can stand out at least. Losing Office as an exclusive a year or so in to it’s release probably wouldn’t be that devastating, but never having it as an exclusive app might be.

What do you think, should Microsoft hold Office off for Windows 8 tablets? Will releasing an iOS/Android version hurt Windows 8 tablet’s chance of success? Share your thoughts below!

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