Exhibit Number 1: an agonizing decision that Microsoft has to make, namely to release or not release Office 2013 on the iPad and Android-based tablets.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in an interview with Bloomberg recently, had no comment on whether or when Office would be available on the iPad and Android tablets. He simply made a blithe reference to Office accessibility through the Web on these platforms. He said;
I have nothing to say on that topic. We’re very glad with the product, very happy with the product that we’re putting in market. It makes sense on the devices like the Mac and the PC. We have a product that we think makes a lot of sense. We do have a way for people always to get to Office through the browser, which is very important. And we’ll see what we see in the future.
Yes, this is a decision that must keep Microsoft executives up at night right now. The problem though, is that if a decision is to be made to port Office, it has to be done soon. Very soon, as a matter of fact.
Office on Android and iOS will make Microsoft billions of dollars, pretty much instantly. The downside? It is likely to kill off Windows 8 RT and Windows tablets in general.
There will then be no compelling reason for anyone to buy a Surface or Surface Pro if Office is available on the more popular platforms like the Samsung Galaxy Tab or iPad. Make no mistake, the Surface Pro wouldn’t have a chance then (not that its prospects are guaranteed right now).
So what should Microsoft do? They need to bite the bullet and port Office over immediately. Hopefully, they have teams who have competed the port already, so it is just a release decision. (if they don’t, many executives, including Ballmer, should be fired.)
Since there are viable productivity software options on these platforms, its not as if much will change if Office is launched on iOS and Android tablets. If not, users will simply use Open Office and Google Apps and be done with it. The most compelling point is:
Tablet buying behavior by the consumer will NOT be skewed to the Surface and x86 tablets by holding Office back from iOS and Android tablets.
I hope Microsoft does not do what it has settled into a pattern of doing these days – dithering until the market opportunity passes.
Yes, the Surface and Windows 8 RT (plus some OEMs) may have to be sacrificed in order to mint money on iOS and Android platforms, but that may happen anyway.
To delay or avoid porting Office 2013 are horrible business decisions.
Microsoft should release Office 2013 on these platforms ASAP. Tell me what you think below.