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Microsoft plays coy, won't admit to iOS Office existence

updated 02:30 am EST, Wed February 27, 2013

Microsoft exec avoids question, suggests Surface, 365 options

The head of the Office division at Microsoft played coy and dodged questions from analysts about plans to release an iPad version of Microsoft Office, stressing the current online versions and suggesting the program as a selling point for the company's beleaguered Surface tablet. Kurt DelBene was asked about the software at a Morgan Stanley technology conference in San Francisco, but instead pointed to iOS versions of some Office add-ons such as OneNote, Lync, SharePoint and its cloud-storage offering SkyDrive.

Wall Street professionals have estimated that Microsoft is leaving around $2.5 billion a year on the table by not producing a version of Microsoft Office for Macs -- which, despite the rich raft of alternatives that are currently available -- would easily be the most popular Office-style productivity suite for the platform. Instead, the company appears to have chosen to make the availability of Office on tablets as a selling point for the Surface line of tablets (where it is included as part of the price). The Surface tablets have thus far failed to find any footing in the iPad-dominated market.

Rumors have the company maintaining -- but sitting on -- a fully-finished Office version for iPad in the hopes that the lack of Office on iOS and Android will drive corporate and enterprise customers to turn to the Surface and other Windows 8 Pro or RT tablets. It is possible that Microsoft will eventually release an iPad version of Office once it has determined that the Surface strategy has failed, or that sufficient time has passed that an iOS version will do more good than harm to the company's efforts.

"We don't take [the question of iOS Office] from the point of view [of] 'do we need to have the PC software that's running on every single device,' we look very much at 'what is the experience that we are looking to have on those devices'," DelBene said. When asked specifically about availability of Office on the iPad, reports Reuters, DelBene offered Office 365, an online version of the suites that does not feature the full set of Office features and requires an annual subscription. "We have enhanced the web applications pretty substantially, in partnership with Apple," he said.

When pressed on the question by an Excel users, DelBene punted and suggested the user look into the Surface Pro tablets or the Office 365 option. "I think we've done a great job on both the consumer side, particularly with the web apps we're building, and on the enterprise side as well," he said in response.

by MacNN Staff



  1. pairof9s

    Senior User

    Joined: 01-03-08


    Whatever, Microsoft...the alternatives are plentiful and robust for one's missing you! Oh, and showing people pop-lock dancing w/ their Surface covers is not going to entice them to buy one instead of an iPad. The beauty of the iPad ads is at least they show all the things you REALLY can do w/ a $400 device.

  1. davidlfoster

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-06-05

    Absurdly Stupid

    What else can one conclude? "Microsoft is leaving around $2.5 billion a year on the table." Even if that estimate is a two-fold overestimate, can you imagine why an American company would turn their nose up at 1250 million dollars of profit achievable by posting software to the Apple store? Do they really EXPECT EXISTING IPAD OWNERS to ditch their iPads and run to the store to buy Surfaces to run Office instead. How many iPad owners are out there? 50+ million at least. Surfaces? 1 million? I've often posted that American businesses are run by morons - Balmer is a great example. He has over 100,000 employees and he can't grasp how to leverage and exploit Apple's success by translating their code, experience and legacy base into the future of mobile computing. Heck, for just a few million dollars they probably could have outsourced the whole thing to a bunch of college hackers and not even had to pay them benefits. It is just unimaginable to me how they could follow their current strategy. Even if the Surface was a complete smashing success, they could not supply the units to make even an insignificant measurable impact for 6 months or more, and that's 2.5 years too late. Excuse the rant, and it doesn't represent the ravings of a Apple or iOS fanboy - it's just my frustration at how the American business economy with few exceptions is in the toilet. There appears to be no business acumen. None at all.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    Re: yawn...

    Oh.... I was planning to buy a Surface so I can join a dance class.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Makes sense to me.

    At this point, Office support is literally the ONLY thing Surface has over the iPad.

    Announce Office availability for iPad, and already dismal Surface RT sales fall to zero overnight.

    However, the longer they delay Office for iPad, the more obvious it becomes that it simply isn't relevant. Which is catastrophe, much worse than the revenue they're missing out on.

    Why does Microsoft seem to so often be stuck between two terrible business alternatives? I think it must be a result of them constantly needing to hedge their bets, in addition to internal politics and the complete inability of leadership to just kill one idea in favor of growing the other alternative.

    The Danger/Kin story is a great example. PlaysforSure was another. Vista. Just...sad.

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: 07-16-04

    I saw my first surface in the wild

    I saw someone holding one awkwardly in their hands on the train today. I assume that it was a surface RT and for some reason he had the kickstand open. I assume that he had tried to use it in his lap before giving up.

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