A few days ago The Daily showed off a picture of Microsoft Office running on an iPad – which understandably have gotten the tech press very excited. Even though there is only a single image, it clearly sports Microsoft’s new Metro-type interface which has slowly but surely started filtering into many of MS’s products.
Since the image went live, Microsoft has denied that any Office products will be made available for the iPad in “the coming weeks”. Take note they did not deny it ever coming to iPad, but only referred to the “coming weeks”. Right after Microsoft’s “non-denial”, Murdoch’s iPad only newspaper quickly made a statement: “We did not fabricate this story, nor did we fake the images in any way. A Microsoft employee, not a contractor, demoed a prototype of the app for us. We were repeatedly told that it wasn‘t the final build and we did not report it as such, which is probably why Microsoft has said that it isn‘t their software.”
But there are a few things that seem to suggest Microsoft will bring Office to the iPad sooner, rather than later. In recent times Microsoft has quickly started rolling out apps for Apple’s iOS operating system – these include Xbox Live, SkyDrive (which is also being pushed to other platforms as well), but most importantly, OneNote (which is part of the Office suite on a PC), which can sync with your online Live account. Clearly Microsoft is not afraid to develop for the iPad, so why would they be hesitant to make a native Office for iPad?
There is further reasons for Microsoft to get Office on the iPad as quickly as possible. A very large part of Microsoft’s turnover comes from Office licenses, and these licenses are primarily gobbled up by the enterprise market. Right now the PC industry is having some trouble – growth of enterprise and consumer PC’s have just about flatlined. HP’s latest financial results earnings for Q1 have dropped 38% compared to 2011 – but their Personal Systems Group (read: PCs and Laptops) revenue has declined by 15% compared to 2011. Overall there was a decline of 18% on all desktop and laptop units. Is this a business that Microsoft can afford to focus on going forward?
While the PC market is by no means going to die overnight, the Post PC market which is currently dominated by the iPad, is clearly doing very well. In 2011, 75% of Fortune 500 companies have been actively testing, or deploying iPad for enterprise use. Microsoft needs to get back into this market – the growth is just simply too big for Microsoft to ignore. If Microsoft can bring out a decent product on the iPad, it has the potential to be a massive revenue generator for the company. But Microsoft still understands that many people cannot replace their PCs with an iPad yet, and Microsoft Office is a big reason behind that. If they do roll out Office for iPad, they might even cannibalize their Windows revenue…
But TechCrunch writer, MG Siegler, made a very interesting observation – he reckons it might be very possible that Microsoft will announce Office for iPad with the Apple’s announcement of the iPad 3. If you think about it, the lack of Microsoft Office has now been a criticism of the iPad for quite some time, and it would make sense for Apple to also market the iPad as now finally completely “ready for the enterprise”. Microsoft would also benefit from this, because any new Apple product always generates massive attention from all media.
So, do you reckon Microsoft will launch Office for the iPad? Or rather, when?
Sources: The Daily, WebOSNation