June 26, 2013, 10:04 AM — Is it a break in the Office-for-iOS dam? News today that Microsoft is now offering a limited version of its Office productivity suite for the Apple iPhoneis seen already as a glass half-full kind of thing, but I wonder if it is the first baby step toward a full-blown native version of Office for all Apple devices, including the iPad.
Computerworld's Preston Gralla, who follows Microsoft as closely as any, calls the news a half-victory for Microsoft's freethinkers, and I think he's spot on. It seems pretty clear that there is a big internal struggle at Redmond, between the people who don't want the days of Windows hegemony to end, and those who think Microsoft must use its legacy assets to compete in the new world of open, mobile and social. Keeping Office off the iPad may be a way to help Microsoft's nascent device business, as former CEO and founder Bill Gates thinks, but I think that's a flawed strategy.
Tablet and mobile-device users aren't going to wait another year for Microsoft to bring Office to the iPad -- they will find some alternative, like Google apps. What all the iPhone and iPad users would prefer is native Office, but if that isn't going to happen they're not going to ditch their devices and buy a Surface RT. It will be interesting to see how many people sign up for the Office 365 version on the iPhone and try using it on their iPad anyway (apparently it will work, it just won't look very good). I bet there will be a lot who try. Will you be one of them? Or have you already ditched your iPad for a Windows device?
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