According to Cnet, Microsoft has just released a version of Office available for the iPhone. I haven’t used the productivity suite since around 2000, so not having it on my iOS devices hasn’t been an issue for me. For folks who want to use the productivity suite on their iOS devices this comes as good news. According to Cnet, this app requires a subscription to the Office365 service in order to be used. I have no real problem with that. Microsoft is a software company, and with everything moving away from boxed software the idea of software as a service is becoming popular. I don’t think it’s such a great deal for home users, to be honest, as $100/year adds up over time. I see it as subscribing to a forced upgrade cycle, but most people will probably see it as a deal. Like I said, this isn’t a big deal.
What I am a bit upset about is their answer to this question, “Why iPhone only?” According to Chris Schneider, a marketing manager in Microsoft’s Office division, the reason why Microsoft didn’t make this version of Office365 run on the iPad’s larger screen because, “We don’t think it will be optimal for that experience.” This isn’t just misleading, it’s a direct contradiction of their own hardware strategy! Microsoft feels the tablet form-factor works just fine for office productivity apps – it’s one of the features touted in their Windows 8 commercials. The real reason why Microsoft didn’t make office available to iPad uses is so they can hang on to one of their biggest selling points. I don’t have a problem with Microsoft withholding software from a platform which they see as a threat to their paradigm. How they choose to balance protecting their business interests with their customers is totally up to them, and every company handles this balancing act in their own way (Apple is, with little argument, the most maniacal about protecting the balance they want to have). What I do have a problem with is running a series of ads which lambast the iPad for not doing PowerPoint, while at the same time releasing a version of Office (which includes PowerPoint) for the iPhone – a hardware platform conveniently not featured in their current slate of ads.
I know Microsoft can’t come clean and say, “The reality is, the iPad is cleaning our clocks and releasing a version of office for the platform would hurt our long-term business interests too much to do it.” Their stockholders would hold a general revolt. I just get tired of the, “just throw something out there – reporters are scared to offend us and people are stupid” attitude seems to be the go-to PR response for big companies.
Here’s the referenced above.