Surface Pro Sales and the Secret Plan for Office on iPad

Surface Pro Sales and the Secret Plan for Office on iPad

Microsoft Surface ProIf you've been putting off your purchase of a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet because you've been hoping for Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) to release its Office productivity suite for iOS and iPad, you may need to re-evaluate your plans. A new report of a secret Microsoft product roadmap shows that the company won't put Office on iOS and iPad until the Autumn of 2014 -- more than a year from now. Here are the details.

First, remember that Microsoft has never officially said it would release a version of Office for iOS, the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) OS behind iPad and iPhone. But that's just what so many traveling professionals have been hoping for and waiting for. iPad, while popular with the CXO and mobile professional crowd, has primarily been a consumption experience -- read PDFs, read and respond to email, read news. The addition of Office would turn iPad into a true business productivity tool by adding the ability to not only view Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel documents, but also to create and edit them. Why buy yet another tablet, the Microsoft Surface Pro, if you can do it all on your iPad?

And while Microsoft won't ever say that, (after all, it hasn't admitted plans for Office for iOS yet either), the slow initial sales of Microsoft Windows 8 and Microsoft Surface Pro (based on Windows 8) probably factored into its decision to delay plans for a native version of Office for iPad. Microsoft Surface Pro needs more time to win over consumers and IT organizations, and Microsoft is leveraging the popularity of Office to help push Surface's acceptance.

So what should you advise your clients to do? If they are on the fence about investing in a Windows 8 tablet versus an iPad, you may want to take the middle road and recommend a mixed environment, depending on the functions required by users in particular roles. Or you might put a few Surface tablets into the hands of influential clients to gain some perspective on whether having a tablet with Office really makes a difference. Microsoft may make it easier to try a Surface soon with a less expensive model in the 7-inch form factor size, according to reports.

Advice to Microsoft: Promote the fact that Office is on the Surface Pro. As I was looking for an image to illustrate this story, I had a hard time finding any image of a Microsoft Surface tablet running Power Point, Excel or Word. If that's your strong sale point, then sell it.

Any other thoughts? What will you tell your customers to do?

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