So it seems that the folks over at Daily have gotten a brief hands-on period with Office on the iPad, and allegedly it is going to head its way to Apple for final approval very soon. The rumors behind Office for iOS have been circulating for a while now, and so I suppose this isn’t exactly shocking news.
There was an age when Microsoft knew that its products didn’t need wider support beyond Windows, but in a world of multiple operating systems (from mobile to desktop), the landscape has at least somewhat changed. Microsoft likely sees iOS as a fertile ground for Office sales, and I can’t blame them.
Still, I find it a little foolish of Microsoft to release this app before Windows tablet makes its way into the hands of consumers. I don’t blame them for preparing an iOS launch, but Office-support is likely one of the strongest things that Windows 8 on tablet has going for it. Taking this away before anyone has gotten their hands on the final Windows 8 product, just seems like a disservice to their vision of overtaking the tablet world.
I really think Microsoft would be wise to wait off a bit longer. It has been years now since the iPad’s launch and so what difference is another year or so going to make? Sure, alternatives will exist to Office (and already do), but when Office arrives it will certainly become the preferred choice.
If I was at the helm of MS, I would first release Office for Win8 right at launch. Give users a while to get used to Windows 8, and use Office as leverage to attract early adapters. Perhaps in Q1 or Q2 of 2013 I would then feel comfortable that enough folks understand what Windows 8 is and I no longer need to leverage Office exclusivity to draw in users.
That’s when I’d launch an iOS (and maybe even Android) version of Office.
So what do we know about this alleged version of iOS Office? First off, it is supposedly very similar to the tablet version of Office 15 for Windows 8. The suite will have four apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. All four will still have a Metro-like feel, allegedly.
Otherwise, we don’t have a lot of solid information about this new iOS version.
So will Apple eventually get Office on iOS? I think it’s a very strong possibility, but I hope that MS at least waits until Windows 8 tablets are firmly in the hands of at least a moderate-sized userbase.
Do you think that Microsoft should wait off on an iOS version of Office? Conversely, do you feel that MS has enough leverage and big features elsewhere to make Windows 8 attractive to new users if iOS gets Office first?
I’d say releasing a major product for your biggest mobile competitor first seems a little like shooting yourself in the foot, but that’s just me. If they release Office for iOS first, yes they will make tons of money, that’s not the problem.
The question is whether or not such a move could affect Windows 8 tablet adoption or not.
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