Microsoft Office for iOS: Will MSFT Finally Succumb?

Microsoft Office for iOS: Will MSFT Finally Succumb?

With Microsoft Office 2013 reaching RTM (release to manufacturing)  a month earlier than many had predicted, there's plenty of conjecture right now about whether companies should upgrade to the new version or stick with what they have. Of course Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) would like everyone to upgrade. "This is the most ambitious release of Office we've ever done. It spans the full family of Office applications, servers and cloud services," writes Kirk Koenigsbauer, Microsoft Office VP, in his official blog.

General availability is planned for the first quarter of 2013. Starting October 19, customers purchasing Office 2010 from local retailers or resellers will receive the new Office for free upon availability. And if you buy a Windows RT (Windows on ARM) device (following the October 26 launch of Windows 8) you'll get a preview version of the new Office.

That's right, Windows 8 tablets will make their debut on October 26 with the new version of Office. (PC makers started announcing Windows 8 and Windows RT PCs in August.) Is that a compelling enough reason for your clients to choose Windows 8 tablets rather than iPads or Android-based tablets? That is surely what Microsoft is hoping for. But a long-cherished wish of many business users of iPad is for Microsoft to finally come out with a version of Office for the iPad and iPhone (and Android devices for that matter).

But releasing such an app or apps would be a huge gambit for Microsoft. As Australian MSP Brennan IT, an MSPmentor 100 company, says in its company blog :

"The reality is that Office is a critical, most-wanted app for many businesses. It’s likely that Microsoft judges its presence would be enough to tip a purchase decision from Android to Windows.

"In fact, Morgan Stanley noted recently that Office will be a key feature driving Windows 8 tablet market growth and share gains. Office is also a bigger cash cow for Microsoft than Windows..."
Nonetheless, rumors are flying that Microsoft is planning some sort of Office for iOS support in Spring 2013. Check out what Paul Thurrott says in his Supersite for Windows blog: "If you’ve seen rumors about Office 2013 for iOS and Android, they’re happening, but the products will only be made available via the subscription Office offerings, and hit in April."

That would make a lot of iPad owners happy, albeit not as happy as if there were a native app. Meanwhile, Microsoft, preferring that you would just buy the Windows 8 tablet, is most likely to keep any plans of Office for iOS and Android under wraps until the last possible minute.

Meanwhile, what are you advising for your MSP clients? Are you encouraging them to give Windows 8 tablets a try? Or are they sticking to their iPads?
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