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Microsoft CEO Nadella to unveil Office on iPad next week

Gregg Keizer | March 19, 2014
Long wait almost over, reports claim; the hard work of selling the suite to begin

But is Microsoft coming to the party too late, long after the guests have paired off and gone home? Last year, some thought 2014 would be a mistake. More recently, other analysts said Office on the iPad might get a lukewarm reception because in the intervening years users have found other solutions in the absence of an official Office from Microsoft.

In other words, Microsoft missed the boat.

Milanesi didn't agree. "[By at] least opening up Office to iPad they might still get users to Office and to the wider Microsoft ecosystem versus opening up opportunities for Apple or other productivity apps to capture users," she said today. "Although users have found alternatives, [those] experiences are not perfect when it comes to editing and formatting. Of course price will be critical as Microsoft cannot go into this thinking that they can price it as high as they could have, say, two years ago, as alternatives are available and over time they got better."

Nor did she think that ditching Windows' exclusive hold on Office for tablets would hurt sales of those devices, or much boost iPad sales, the two-headed monster that Microsoft presumably feared, and the reason it withheld Office from non-Windows tablets.

"The fact that Office will now be on iPad does not impact sales of Windows tablet in any considerable manner, in my view," Milanesi said, pointing out that there are hundreds of other programs, including those custom-built by businesses, that run only on Windows. "Although it might make BYOD [bring your own device] easier for iPad, there are still limitations as to what you can do if enterprises are not delivering iOS enterprise-class apps that used to run on Windows. In other words if all I can do at work is email, Word and Excel, I am limited as to how productive I can be."

According to Foley, Microsoft will webcast its March 27 press conference, another strong signal that while the theme may be cloud and mobile, the real focus, and the reason to tune in, will be Office on the iPad. Microsoft has yet to name a URL where that webcast will be broadcast.


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