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The many (alleged) lives of Microsoft's Office for iOS

post #1 of 63
Thread Starter 
An iOS adaptation of Microsoft's ubiquitous Office productivity suite is ready to go pending the approval of new CEO Satya Nadella, according to a recent report, but we've heard this story before.

Nadella
Satya Nadella. | Source: Microsoft


The Redmond, Wash. software giant "already has a full iPhone and iPad version of Office ready for release," Gerry Shih and Bill Rigby reported for Reuters late Thursday. "The only question is when Chief Executive Satya Nadella, who took over in February, will pull the trigger."

If true, it would mark the end of a long and winding road that saw Microsoft caught flat-footed by the explosive enterprise adoption of Apple's iPad in the years following the tablet's release. If false, it would simply be the latest setback for many business users' seemingly quixotic desire to use one of the world's most popular software packages on one of the world's most popular devices.
Apple brought iWork to iOS in 2011 as Office remained a no-show.
The first reports of a project to bring Office to the iPad surfaced in November 2011, nearly two years after Steve Jobs unveiled the slate in San Francisco. At the time, now-defunct iPad newspaper The Daily said that Microsoft was "actively working on adapting its popular software suite for Apple's tablet" alongside an updated version of Office for Mac that itself never materialized.

Three months later, the same publication returned with a hands-on preview of Office for iPad sporting a Windows 8-style "Metro" user interface. Though admitting that what they had seen was a "working prototype," The Daily nonetheless predicted that the software "could be released in the coming weeks."

Microsoft immediately denied that report, issuing a statement insisting that the story was "based on inaccurate rumors and speculation."

Office
A photo of the "working prototype" handled by The Daily.


Undeterred, The Daily reiterated its stance in May of 2012 with a report that the software was in the final stages of testing and its emergence on the App Store was only a matter of time.

"The app is now in the hands of a usability team that appraises software that utilizes the Metro design language for 'Metro compliance' and suggests changes as needed," reporter Matt Hickey wrote at the time. "When approved by the team, the app likely will go to Apple for app store approval, which could take a couple of weeks."

Boldly, this report included a specific release date: Nov. 10, 2012.

The software suffered another vaporous delay in October of that year courtesy of Microsoft's Czech Republic team. Product manager Petr Bobek said the suite would go mobile sometime after March 2013, and a followup press release confirmed that in "addition to Windows, Office will also be available on other operating systems: Windows Phone, Windows RT, Mac OS, Android, iOS and Symbian."

Redmond again backpedaled, this time saying that the "information shared by our Czech subsidiary is not accurate." Microsoft did eventually release its Office Mobile app in June of 2013, though the iPhone-only offering is a far cry from satisfying the needs of most business users.

Office Mobile


Office Mobile operates as a companion for Microsoft's Office 365 subscription service, and the app's limited and often confusing functionality has earned it a meager 2.5-star rating on the App Store. AppleInsider's own iOS productivity showdown concluded that the app seems "to exist solely to quell the heartburn brought on corporate IT departments by anxious executives who use iOS devices but need a way to make simple changes to documents on the fly."
Business users were unsatisfied with the iPhone-only Office Mobile app
October 2013 -- nearly two years after the suite was first seen in "working prototype" mode -- brought a tepid announcement from then-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who indicated that development on Office for iOS was "in progress." Ballmer did not allude to a release date, only saying that it would not be submitted to Apple until the company finished a new "touch first" user interface overhaul.

Given the resources Microsoft has dedicated to touch interfaces in the past four years -- and the appearance of the Metro-enabled prototype -- Ballmer's latter statement seemed to be at best an attempt to retroactively rationalize the fact that Office has yet to appear on one of the most dominant computing platforms of the 21st century and at worst a tacit admission of systemic failures in Microsoft's product development pipeline.

Most recently, Microsoft insider Mary Jo Foley reported that Office was set to roll out in the first half of 2014, even before the suite makes its way to Microsoft's own Windows 8 platform. That development would be a slap in the face to Microsoft watchers who have repeatedly predicted the company was holding back Office for iPad until a corresponding Windows 8 version was ready in an effort to keep the nascent Windows tablet ecosystem on level footing in the enterprise.



It may be true that an iPad running Office would be the final nail in Microsoft's enterprise tablet coffin, a strategic blunder not unlike that of the Incan emperor who allowed Pizarro to conquer the formerly powerful empire from within. But Surface has been a flop, and corporate IT departments staring through the rimless glasses of their iPad-toting CEO won't wait forever.

Microsoft might also be too proud to let Apple have a slice of the goose that lays one of Microsoft's many golden eggs. Office generates tens of billions of dollars in revenue every year, not including the Windows licenses needed to run all those copies of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Most likely, though, is that today -- four years on -- Microsoft still lacks a coherent strategy for dealing with Apple's unprecedented move onto their turf. Fractured and disorganized after years of corporate infighting, Microsoft's response to the iPhone and iPad under Ballmer was reminiscent of Sonny Liston laboring against the ropes, holding on amidst a flurry of punches from Muhammad Ali.

We don't yet know whether Nadella can get the aging heavyweight back into fighting shape, nor do we know how he will choose to handle the iPad problem.

The only thing we do know is that Office for iPad won't be rushed.
post #2 of 63
I don't think corporate is really looking out for office for iPad. They could create there docs in pages and have it converted to PDF before sending it off to anyone. As for the consumers they definetly don't need office for iPad. Why spend on licensing office when iWork's is free.
post #3 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikilok View Post

I don't think corporate is really looking out for office for iPad. They could create there docs in pages and have it converted to PDF before sending it off to anyone. As for the consumers they definetly don't need office for iPad. Why spend on licensing office when iWork's is free.

You can export your Pages documents to Word if necessary and usually read a Word document in Pages but Word will never be able to read a Pages formatted document. Enterprise installations will always use what the entrenched IT manager demands people use so until these people finally retire or Microsoft implodes, Microsoft Office will unfortunately continue to be used. The good thing is I retired so I don't have to deal with that mess and gladly use Apple's products because they do everything I need to do. I will not be buying another version of Office, ever.

 

(I have a corporate home version bought for $10-$20 when I was working under a proper license but I believe I am now supposed to delete it because I no longer work for the company it was purchased under. Oh well, no loss to me.)

post #4 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by nikilok View Post

I don't think corporate is really looking out for office for iPad. They could create there docs in pages and have it converted to PDF before sending it off to anyone. As for the consumers they definetly don't need office for iPad. Why spend on licensing office when iWork's is free.

If you're a serious spreadsheet user, there's nothing that comes close to MS Excel.  Numbers doesn't hold a candle to it.  But there are many apps that are becoming suitable replacements for MS Word & PowerPoint.

post #5 of 63
I am extremely disappointed in AppleInsider and Shane Cole for having completely missed the real story. Microsoft has a usability team? What do both of them do the other 39 hours of their week? I would like to see an expose about the usability team at Microsoft.
Edited by MacBook Pro - 3/14/14 at 7:16pm
post #6 of 63
Microsoft is leaving money on the table not releasing Office for iPad.
post #7 of 63
I agree with canukstorm - serious spreadsheet users will only use Excel. Visicalc drove the PC industry (I'm actually convinced it wouldn't have been nearly as successful if the spreadsheet hadn't been invented). Apple needs to up its game with Numbers. To do so it should look to include macros/programing (a sorely needed update/improvement to Applescript as a viable alternative to Visual Basic for example) and improve its data analytics (wishing Tableau worked on a Mac). The later could be done in conjunction with Filemaker (version 13, just out, is a big improvement, but still lacks big data analytics and visualization).

A non-linear presentation method (like Prezi) would be helpful for both Numbers and Keynote.

As much as I've tried to embrace iWork, it still isn't ready for heavy duty productivity. Microsoft Office will remain the corporate workhorse, along with the army of add on's and Windows only complimentary productivity software for some time to come.
post #8 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by EMoeller View Post

I agree with canukstorm - serious spreadsheet users will only use Excel. Visicalc drove the PC industry (I'm actually convinced it wouldn't have been nearly as successful if the spreadsheet hadn't been invented). Apple needs to up its game with Numbers. To do so it should look to include macros/programing (a sorely needed update/improvement to Applescript as a viable alternative to Visual Basic for example) and improve its data analytics (wishing Tableau worked on a Mac). The later could be done in conjunction with Filemaker (version 13, just out, is a big improvement, but still lacks big data analytics and visualization).

A non-linear presentation method (like Prezi) would be helpful for both Numbers and Keynote.

As much as I've tried to embrace iWork, it still isn't ready for heavy duty productivity. Microsoft Office will remain the corporate workhorse, along with the army of add on's and Windows only complimentary productivity software for some time to come.


The question is how many are using this workhorse called excel.

The next question is is excel suitable for the tablet.
post #9 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamC View Post


The question is how many are using this workhorse called excel.

The next question is is excel suitable for the tablet.

Excel is used big time in the business world.  Every other spreadsheet is amateur hour compared to it.  If Numbers can be made suitable for a tablet, why not Excel?  Granted it won't be fully functional like its desktop counterpart but it doesn't have to, in the same manner that iWork for iOS is not as feature rich compared to iWork for OSX.  The key is document / file format compatibility.

post #10 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanukStorm View Post

Excel is used big time in the business world.  Every other spreadsheet is amateur hour compared to it.  If Numbers can be made suitable for a tablet, why not Excel?  Granted it won't be fully functional like its desktop counterpart but it doesn't have to, in the same manner that iWork for iOS is not as feature rich compared to iWork for OSX.  The key is document / file format compatibility.

iWork for iOS has exactly the same functionality as iWork for OS X.

The vast majority of users do not use Visual Basic for Applications.
post #11 of 63

This on the iPad:

 

 

I just can't wait...

Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
post #12 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post
 

This on the iPad:

 

 

I just can't wait...

Better get used to tapping with your pinky.

post #13 of 63

I think the Office monopoly was doomed the moment they opened up the file format (the XML based one). Now they have to compete on app features, and not having a version for a particular platform is about an uncompetitive as you can get.

post #14 of 63

Microsoft will probably tie this to Office 365 and it would make sense. While I hate Office for personal use because it's just so bloated, it is still heavily used in enterprise. It would be a big boon to get it on iOS because it would further legitimize the platform.

 

To those that talk about Pages being able to export to Word, that is just a series of extra steps. The use case that makes most sense is to open Word on your iOS device, it pulls your document list from something like Sharepoint or OneDrive for Business, you open the document, make changes, save. That is the workflow that is expected.

 

iWork isn't set up or suited for multi-user, multi-platform use and I don't think Apple is heading there either. It would take an insane amount of work with no realistic expectation to even get close to the entrenchment that Office has.

 

Office on iOS would be a good thing.

post #15 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post
 

I think the Office monopoly was doomed the moment they opened up the file format (the XML based one). Now they have to compete on app features, and not having a version for a particular platform is about an uncompetitive as you can get.

 

It still has a relative monopoly. There are less smaller organizations that depend on it, but at large enterprises of thousands of users, no one is even close.

 

BTW - I'm not defending it. Just pointing out something that I have seen in large companies.

post #16 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

Better get used to tapping with your pinky.

Or my boomstick!

1wink.gif
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
Pot is legal in North Korea.
That explains a considerable amount.

"The United States will respond proportionally at a place and time we choose..."
Reply
post #17 of 63
This is news? Seriously, thinking about the newest version of Office would be like me going to the Circuit City to get my new VHS player. Who gives a sh!t? And if you do for your biz or anything else, tough, that's your fault for depending on these idiots that would rather sell 20 Surface tablets than 1,000,000+ version of their bloat-ware for iOS.

post #18 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick LeSwunder View Post

This is news? Seriously, thinking about the newest version of Office would be like me going to the Circuit City to get my new VHS player. Who gives a sh!t? And if you do for your biz or anything else, tough, that's your fault for depending on these idiots that would rather sell 20 Surface tablets than 1,000,000+ version of their bloat-ware for iOS.

 

It's not about SBA owners who have easier choices to make. It's about enterprise customers and this would be good for iOS as a platform as it would further engrain iOS in the enterprise market. That is something that Android still can't get into as much as some would think.

post #19 of 63
This is news? Seriously, thinking about the newest version of Office would be like me going to the Circuit City to get my new Vhs player. Who gives a sh!t? And if you do, tough, t
Quote:
Originally Posted by foad View Post

It's not about SBA owners who have easier choices to make. It's about enterprise customers and this would be good for iOS as a platform as it would further engrain iOS in the enterprise market. That is something that Android still can't get into as much as some would think.

You make a great point. And it just shows that Microsoft dosen't care about the professionals the same way that even (some) Apple faithful were saying about Apple even after the new Mac Pro was finally realesed with a stock 4 core computer that completes (some) tasks 70% faster than it's base model predecessor. Even with new regime MS is caught in the 90's dangling a carrot in front of Mac users. Microsoft should make their own version of a Parallels-type software bundled with Office. They'd do something they don't really seem to care about - sell a bunch of one of their products (beside XBox).
post #20 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post


iWork for iOS has exactly the same functionality as iWork for OS X.

The vast majority of users do not use Visual Basic for Applications.

Apple could allow people to use javascript in their numbers...

post #21 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by foad View Post
 

 

It still has a relative monopoly. There are less smaller organizations that depend on it, but at large enterprises of thousands of users, no one is even close.

 

BTW - I'm not defending it. Just pointing out something that I have seen in large companies.

Now those companies are using Google docs because its accessible everywhere. MSFT needs to stop trying to be a hardware company and be a software company. Google couldn't have been eating MSFT's lunch without servicing whatever major platforms it has to in order to do business. MSFT has a cash cow. MSFT should make that goose lay golden eggs wherever it can. If MSFT waits too long they won't get a chance because users will find work arounds and competitors will keep adding features. 

post #22 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

This on the iPad:




I just can't wait...

The above photo demonstrates why the full Office application is not suitable for a touch device. Office, as we know it, was designed to be a mouse-based product that let you deal with a lot of drop-down menus and tons of multi-level-deep menus and buttons. The Office programs are highly complicated because they could be, and because the programs are embellished and loaded down with bells and whistles some people need, but most people never use.

I have a version of Word1.0 that fit onto a 400K floppy, to give you some idea of how it has grown and been bloated to what it is today. Pages, as it is today, has many more features than Word 1.0 did in its day.Pages is not up to Word 5.0, and it may be a while, if ever, before it gets there. The reason is that the program cannot outgrow the ability of the Tablet's UI.

I watched a demo of Office Excel on the Surface RT. OMG, it was a total pain to watch the demonstrator try to touch the cell he wanted to input a formula. The formula was nearly impossible to make out, there were so many UI issues in that short demo. A straight port to the iPad would hurt Microsoft more then help. It really needs to be rethought and and the UI redesigned. The other thing to consider is, do you want to create complex spreadsheet and documents on an iPad, or do you want to ONLY be able to open, read, and edit them? Or, as a last resort, would it be adequate to only open, read, and do SOME editing of the documents and spreadsheets? If the last choice is adequate, we may be there already with iWorks as the iPad software. If not there now, then very close currently.

This could be why enterprise is satisfied with the iPad for most situations right now and is content with iWorks in its current incarnation... and besides, iWorks is free, no extra costs or subscriptions, and if collaboration is needed, they can do it on the iCloud...also free.
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #23 of 63
While Google Docs is gaining traction on Office, it by no means has the market penetration the Microsoft still has. Google Docs has a ways to go.

The other thing to think about is that maybe Microsoft might have a new approach with their new CEO. He was instrumental in their cloud services, which have been very well received. Maybe there might be a more productive strategy at the company.
post #24 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by foad View Post
 

 

It still has a relative monopoly. There are less smaller organizations that depend on it, but at large enterprises of thousands of users, no one is even close.

 

BTW - I'm not defending it. Just pointing out something that I have seen in large companies.

I agree in fact. There was one guy at my office (some kind of open source zealot) who insisted on using Open Office (and it's native file format) for everything, all he did was piss everyone off. Big companies need one standardised office suite, and since they typically already use Windows (and therefore have a relationship with Microsoft) it's just easier to use Office. And it's not that bad either. But for home users or small rebellious startups it's a different story.

post #25 of 63
I think that like a fine wine Microsoft should let Office for iOS age for a few more years before releasing it. The bouquet will be better.
post #26 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I agree in fact. There was one guy at my office (some kind of open source zealot) who insisted on using Open Office (and it's native file format) for everything, all he did was piss everyone off. Big companies need one standardised office suite, and since they typically already use Windows (and therefore have a relationship with Microsoft) it's just easier to use Office. And it's not that bad either. But for home users or small rebellious startups it's a different story.

Unfortunately, Ballmer made some insanely bad mistakes. Instead of molding Microsoft into an innovator, he just milked existing cash cows. Instead of pushing enterprises into the future, he always just thought of the bottom line. Microsoft had some great innovators that he pushed out because he was threatened.

As a technology lover, it actually bums me out that his ego drove him to hinder a company which he said he loves.

Hopefully things change. Hopefully Office becomes a leaner, faster, suite for those that use it.
post #27 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post


iWork for iOS has exactly the same functionality as iWork for OS X.

The vast majority of users do not use Visual Basic for Applications.

iWork for OSX supports AppleScript capability while iOS for iWork does not.  By the same token Excel for desktop Win32 would support macros & VBA while I'm assuming the iOS version would not.

post #28 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post


iWork for iOS has exactly the same functionality as iWork for OS X.

The vast majority of users do not use Visual Basic for Applications.

 

That's not something to brag about. Numbers is highly under powered, along side Pages. Keynote is the one A+ app.

post #29 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by foad View Post


Unfortunately, Ballmer made some insanely bad mistakes. Instead of molding Microsoft into an innovator, he just milked existing cash cows. Instead of pushing enterprises into the future, he always just thought of the bottom line. Microsoft had some great innovators that he pushed out because he was threatened.

As a technology lover, it actually bums me out that his ego drove him to hinder a company which he said he loves.

Hopefully things change. Hopefully Office becomes a leaner, faster, suite for those that use it.

That's right. I hope that Nadella goes "back to basics" and concentrates on improving products instead of business tricks.

post #30 of 63
I have not tried it, but doesn't Microsoft include a version of office on its windows phones? It should be easy for them to create a similar version for iOS.
post #31 of 63

Microsoft needs the iPad a WHOLE lot more than the iPad needs Microsoft.  Go away, Microsoft!

post #32 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post
 

I think the Office monopoly was doomed the moment they opened up the file format (the XML based one). 

Doomed maybe but this isn't why. The XML stuff is open but lots of the pieces in there are binary blobs in ... you guessed it ... original proprietary format. The format of the blobs isn't documented/open but much of it has been reverse-engineered. So competitors are still where they were before - close but not fully-compatible.

post #33 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanukStorm View Post

iWork for OSX supports AppleScript capability while iOS for iWork does not.  

Incorrect.
post #34 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

That's not something to brag about. Numbers is highly under powered, along side Pages. Keynote is the one A+ app.

Underpowered? Perhaps for 1% of the population.
post #35 of 63
After reading the comments on a number of sites including this one, this is my take on "Office" as a suite of programs.

Excel
The "killer app" of the majority of businesses around the world. It can not, and probably never will be eclipsed by any other spreadsheet program for a very (very!) long time. It should be spun out of the Office suite and be a stand-alone product (again).

PowerPoint
No sense or cents in continuing it's existence. Waste of resources. The "power-slide deck" is a (despised?!) thing of the past and its far easier to communicate and visualize ideas and talking points using web technologies and communications. Besides that, Keynote already kills it in usability, functionality and presentational aesthetics. Kill it.
Word
Kill it. Does absolutely nothing better... and in many cases far worse... than current web technologies that separate content from presentation logic.

Consider this:

a) formatting and the display of text, including the embedding of flat images, is FAR faster and easier to perform...including indexing, later retrieval and manipulation according to it's intended usage... then an MS Word doc ever will be.

b) this forum post and the entire Internet proves that fact. None. Of. It. Is. Created. In. Word.

Printed communications are dying and will continue to contract until they're in single digit numbers in a not too far distant future. So why continue to develop software with "dead-tree printing" at it's core capability and raison d'être?

Apple and Google realize this, and are pushing web-based document creation for this very reason. Microsoft also knows this is the future of "communication, collaboration and publishing", or else they wouldn't be pushing Office 365 so hard.

They just need to have leadership willing to make the hard decisions that will facilitate the move. They need to chop Office in half, drop some functionality, and even some programs. Then build "muscle" on top of the lean and mean framework, and support it with secure backend server technology. Something they "should" know something about after all of these years.

To an Apple or Google fan... this is all too obvious. Does it resonate at all in Redmond? I "think" so... but they've become the IBM that they danced nimbly around so many years back... and are too comatose and frightened to do anything about it these days. Delay until you have no other choice, rather than have the balls to "put it on the line" and take a chance. Although I have to admit, they're reluctance might have something to do with the hell-storm they've been forced to put up with since Windows 8. That experience and backlash would make anybody pause before the Big Jump and doing another Belly Flop....1smoking.gif
Knowing what you are talking about would help you understand why you are so wrong. By "Realistic" - AI Forum Member
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Knowing what you are talking about would help you understand why you are so wrong. By "Realistic" - AI Forum Member
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post #36 of 63

Agreed -- who gives a shit about Office anymore?  I mean, two years ago was THE time to do it, but since so many programs are free and touch-friendly with cloud integration.  I can't remember the last time I used anything Microsoft Office related outside of work (and there only because the job is a Microsoft shop).  

 

The fact is -- nobody really CARES about Microsoft anymore.  They're really not on the map at all for tablets or many home users.  Maybe one day they'll stage a comeback with something really great, but I'll believe it when I see it and have it in-hand (no more "microsoft promises").

 

I don't mean to say I hate Microsoft -- I LOVE Microsoft.  Especially Windows -- it was the whole reason I moved to the Mac in the first place.  ;)

post #37 of 63
Office for iPad, sounds like a big win for Apple & Microsoft
post #38 of 63
I need Excel and Word so bad for my iPad. Only until it's on it will my iPad remain an entertainment only device
 
Where's the new Apple TV?
 
 
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Where's the new Apple TV?
 
 
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post #39 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanukStorm View Post
 

If you're a serious spreadsheet user

 

I think the point here is, quite simply, that most people aren't.

post #40 of 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamC View Post


The question is how many are using this workhorse called excel.

The next question is is excel suitable for the tablet.

 

I agree.  Excel is like a truck and Excel experts are like truck drivers.  The world needs trucker drivers and Excel experts, but I'm glad I'm not one of them and I think Apple is perfectly OK with not catering to them ;=)

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