The rumor mill has 2014-03-27 set as the day that Microsoft announces Office for iPad
Apple introduced the iPad in January of 2010. It was – and still is – the magical device that has changed the entire face of modern computing. By 2011, the world was screaming for a version of Office for iPad; and they knew they weren’t going to get it; at least not then. Now it seems they finally will.
New Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is said to be hosting an invitation only press event at 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern where he will speak about the “intersection of The Cloud and Mobile Computing.” The event – scheduled for the same date and time that MacWorld/iWorld kicks off – should put the world’s yearning for Office on the iPad to rest.
Previously, Microsoft had tied Office and Windows at the hip. Each new version of Windows would undoubtedly signal the business world that a new version of Office (for Windows) was just around the corner. The two were so tied together that even though the new version of Office would run on legacy versions of Windows, doing so always created “opportunities for technical support.” New Office on old Windows wasn’t necessarily a good idea. The two products have always worked best when their latest releases were paired up. And so, Microsoft’s cash cows mooed and were milked, and all was right with Redmond’s world. That was the way of the One Windows strategy from Microsoft for many years.
And then, tablet computing kicked off and changed the computing landscape forever; and it upset the World of Windows. The consumerization of IT (CoIT) and BYOD (bring your own device) movements started to take hold of the world in late 2010. Corporate America wanted to bring their self-owned IT toys to work and wanted access to corporate resources with them. I know many IT managers who had to recreate entire Windows Policy implementations in Active Directory just to insure that capability to satisfy key members of executive management. Even though most every organization has some CoIT/BYOD presence (with the exception of some state government agencies around the US who aren’t ready for that just yet…), it’s still a big challenge for IT departments to manage.
Thankfully, however, for iOS, and specifically iPad users, that’s about to get a bit easier. Microsoft seems like it’s finally ready to decouple its Office/ Windows Release machine and give Office for iPad to the people. I, like a number of other industry journalists, think that Office for iOS has been ready to ship for a while now, even as early as Q1 2012. There was some credible evidence published on the internet coupled with what appeared to be screenshots of (near) finished product that indicated that Office for iPad was ready back then. Unfortunately, the release didn’t make it to the public due to entrenched Windows management. With the many changes made, and still in process, at Microsoft, this – the final availability of Office for iPad – seems like the message to be delivered to the public at the press event on the March 27th.
It was anticipated – and users can likely still anticipate – the need for an active Office 365 subscription, or full Office license – in order to be able to use Office for iPad. This reaffirms the Microsoft (notice, I didn’t say Windows) ecosystem, and indicates a clear shift in corporate thinking in Redmond. They are truly embracing the devices and services corporate direction set by Steve Ballmer before he was recently replaced by Satya Nadella.
Interestingly enough, it was thought that Microsoft could be missing out on as much as $2.5B USD in revenue due to the lack of Office on iPad. However, it’s not clear if that estimate is accurate or merely an estimate. I happen to think that number is overstated, at least at this point. Microsoft isn’t planning to charge for the app specifically, but will instead require a purchase of either Office 365 or Office 2011/2013. I’m fairly certain that Office for iPad won’t compel the purchase of new Office licenses, however, I’ve been proven wrong before.
At the end of the day, we’re just going to have to wait and see… 2014-03-27 is less than a week away as of this writing. It is also anticipated that Microsoft will provide additional information on the ModernUI/ MetroUI version of Microsoft Office that will embrace touch and also run on Surface RT/ Surface 2 tablets. It was previously thought that the lack of this product was holding up the completed version of Office for iPad from release.
What do you think of all of this? Is Satya Nadella going to announce Office for iPad on 2014-03-27? Will he announce Office 2015 for Mac? Or will Nadella announce something different entirely? Will the new version of Office for iPad contain just Word, Excel, PowerPoint and [some version of] Outlook, or will it be more complete, pulling in an updated version of OneNote as well? How important is Office for iPad to you? Will it compel you to purchase an Office 365 subscription or a licensed version of Office 2011 for Mac or Office 2013 Professional Plus for Windows? Is the fact that they are effectively 2-3 years late on delivering Office for the iPad going to hurt Microsoft? I’d really appreciate you taking the time to give me your thoughts in the comments section below and telling me what you think.