Microsoft faces iPad, iWorks without articulated plan for Windows 8 Office

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
While eager to demonstrate next year's Windows 8, Microsoft has been reticent to make any promises about a tablet friendly new version of Office sporting the new Metro look, a clear departure from Apple's strategy of presenting the original iPad with a suite of new iWork apps, but only after both were finished and ready to sell.



Microsoft has outlined plans to bring the iPad's exclusive App Store software model to Windows 8, at least for the new Zune-inspired Metro apps that Windows 8 tablets will run. However, it hasn't announced parallel plans to bring its own Office apps. Instead, the company has said only that it is still only thinking about its Office options in the tablet arena, despite revealing plans to get Windows 8 itself to market within a year.



Speaking with financial analysts, Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer answered questions about a Metro Office release by saying, "you ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style."



Ballmer then revealed that Microsoft was still in the early stages of exploring the concept by saying, "the question is Metro interface for Office. How critical is it to Windows 8 adoption to have software that takes full advantage of Office with Metro??



Office now more important to Microsoft than Windows



The lack of an articulated direction for Office on tablets is notable because many Windows enthusiast observers are hoping Windows 8 will do to the iPad in tablets what Windows 95 did to the original Macintosh in graphical desktops.



However, Office isn't just the icing on top of Microsoft's Windows cake. Microsoft's revenues from its Business Division (90 percent of which come from Office, according to the company) have now exceeded its Windows & Windows Live Division (representing desktop OS licensing). Office also earns Microsoft more profits than Windows.



Windows is also experiencing stagnating growth, while the company's Office revenues and profits continue to grow at a healthy pace. And while Microsoft has emphasized its Xbox 360, Kinect, Zune and similar consumer devices, its Office group makes more than 100 times the profits of its entire Entertainment and Devices Division. Office is currently Microsoft's biggest cash cow, and it has long been near the top.







Office was the reason for Windows



Office has long been a key pillar of Microsoft's business. In fact, Office wasn't created for Windows; Windows was created as a way for Microsoft to sell its successful Macintosh Office apps on the DOS PC.



The main attraction of the Windows PC was initially that it could run Excel, and later Word and PowerPoint, three apps Microsoft had created or acquired to build its Office suite on the Macintosh. Alternative PC operating systems, including IBM's OS/2, couldn't run the Mac's Office apps and Microsoft demonstrated no interest in porting Office to support alternative platforms it did not own.



At the same time, Microsoft had encouraged the developers of popular or even critical apps for DOS users, including Word Perfect and Lotus 1-2-3, to port their software to OS/2. When Microsoft subsequently abandoned its OS/2 partnership with IBM and began selling Windows on its own, it was also left with the only productivity apps available for Windows.



Microsoft subsequently co-marketed Windows 95 and its matching set of Office apps, almost instantly killing off rival desktop software and making Windows and Office paired standards for PC users. In the years since, Microsoft has deftly outpaced third party developers' attempts to bring Office competitors to Windows, even as it rolled new functionality into Office to take over new markets (such as messaging with Exchange Server and Outlook).



On page 2 of 3: Apple and Office, Beating Microsoft in Software.



Apple and Office



While Apple's original graphical computer, the 1983 Lisa, was too expensive to reach the mass market, early reviewers were more impressed with its complete suite of productivity apps than they were with the system itself.



Lisa's bundled Office System software suite was criticized by developers as eating into their potential market. When it released the Macintosh, Apple was so worried about offending third party developers that it allowed them to deliver most of its software without any significant first party competition.







In fact, it was originally Steve Jobs who invited Microsoft to write its Office apps for the Macintosh, observing that Bill Gates' company was struggling to find a market for its Multiplan spreadsheet (a clone of VisiCalc) in the DOS PC world dominated by Lotus. Microsoft also began porting its MultiPlan Word software, based on the Bravo word processor from Xerox PARC, to the Mac.



After being renamed as Excel and Word on the Macintosh, Microsoft's apps began to take off. Apple's chief executive at the time, John Sculley, recently noted in a presentation that "Microsoft made more money on Microsoft Office per Macintosh than Apple made on the Macintosh."



In its battle with IBM's OS/2, Sculley explained that Microsoft was able to license Windows for cheaper because it was making its money on Office apps, which supported the development of Windows itself.



Beating Microsoft in Software



In the early 1990s, Apple briefly experimented once again with building its own productivity software for the Macintosh under a subsidiary named Claris.



Its flagship product, ClarisWorks, immediately became the most popular integrated office suite on the Mac, outselling Microsoft's Works in its first year. Claris even went to court to force Microsoft to remove advertising calling Works the "Best-Selling Integrated Application for the Macintosh," because it wasn't true anymore.



The beleaguered Apple subsequently allowed Claris to fall apart, and by the time Jobs returned to lead the company in 1997, very little of the subsidiary's software was deemed worthily of salvaging. Instead, Jobs started work on a series of new productivity apps that eventually became the iWorks suite: Keynote, Pages and Numbers. Apple used the suite to lessen the Mac platform's need for Office and to sharply lower the price Microsoft could charge for Office.



When it launched the iPad last year, Apple also launched mobile iOS versions of all three iWorks apps, which it later also brought to the iPhone. Apple's iWork apps have remained in the top ten highest grossing iPad apps since their release. However, Microsoft has been almost completely absent from the iOS market, offering only free OneNote and Messenger clients for the iPad related to its Office suite.



Without a significant application presence on iOS, Microsoft will be earning no external revenues to support touch-based productivity apps on Windows 8 in the way the massive revenues from Macintosh Office apps literally paid for the original development of Windows.



On page 3 of 3: Ribbon vs Metro, Apple's iPad look comes to the desktop and the cloud, Microsoft's mobile strategy for Office.



Ribbon vs Metro



Last year, Microsoft released mobile Metro versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook for Windows Phone 7, but those apps (which ship on every WP7 phone) haven't attracted significant interest in the company's mobile platform, even from enterprise users heavily invested in Office and Exchange Server.



And because the apps are bundled on WP7 phones, rather than being sold separately, they are earning Microsoft no additional revenues. The overall lack of interest demonstrated in Windows Phone 7 portends bad news for similar Metro-style Office apps on Windows 8 tablets, even if Microsoft does indeed decide to release a "Metro-fied" Office suite for tablets.



In addition, the company's efforts to make Office Ribbonized beginning with Windows Vista (largely a strategy to differentiate Office from free knockoffs such as StarOffice/OpenOffice) set the company's productivity apps in a completely different direction back in 2007 when Apple was preparing to launch iOS on the iPhone.



Apple's iPad look comes to the desktop and the cloud



Office users were just beginning to accept the new Ribbon interface (and Office for Mac users were just getting the first sight of the Ribbon) when Apple released its multitouch versions of iWork apps for iPad. Rather than putting more buttons and controls into a busy toolbar, Apple stripped complexity from the iWorks interface to make it more useful to mobile users. At the same time, Apple began work on iCloud, enabling iWork users on Macs and iOS devices to keep their document changes updated across all their devices.







When Microsoft debuts Windows 8 on new tablet devices sometime a year from now, it will need to bridge the chasm between its animated, Zune-like Metro interface and the complex Ribbon interface it uses on the conventional Windows desktop.



Apple has already released efforts to bridge the iPad and desktop interface with Mac OS X Lion, where apps such as Mail have inherited a very iPad-like experience. Forthcoming versions of iWork for the desktop are likely to similarly incorporate iPad elements. iCloud also brings an identical, cohesive interface to Apple's portfolio of web apps.



Microsoft's mobile strategy for Office



For years, Microsoft has taken a year or two longer to bring its Office for Windows updates to the Macintosh. After promising to bring its apps to Symbian in a high profile deal with Nokia back in 2009, Microsoft spent two years on the project. This suggests that the company will take more than a year to develop an entirely new Metro version of Office parallel to its planned release of Office 15 for desktop users.



With Apple's iWork apps now available from the Mac App Store for a total of $60, the potential market of Office for Mac is shrinking alongside the plateauing market for Windows PCs themselves. The cost of Office for Mac has imploded from its former $500 to a starting price now around $75.



Growth is occurring among mobile devices, primarily iOS and Android on smartphones and the iPad among a small minority of other tablets. Microsoft isn't selling its Office apps on any of those growing platforms. So far, it has only released significant portions of its Office suite for the stillborn WP7 and Nokia's left for dead Symbian platform.



Whether Microsoft can deliver Metro Office apps interesting enough to spur demand for Windows 8 tablets, or whether Windows 8 tablets will find a market without critical apps such as Office, are critically important issues Microsoft's chief executive leaves completely unanswered.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 127
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    Windows users are old fashioned, unlike cutting edge Mac users. Microsoft is investing heavily in multitouch, and hardly any windows user even knows what that is or has even used it before. State of the art for them is a mouse and a beige keyboard, while Mac users have been using state of the art multitouch devices for many years in Apple laptops and now on desktops with the Magic Trackpad and of course on iOS devices with their touch screens.



    Windows 8 on a desktop with those huge tiles looks like it was designed for either senior citizens who have really bad vision problems or for toddlers, take your pick.
  • Reply 2 of 127
    I've installed Windows 8 on a VM, and while I know it is a very early preview, I predict Microsoft will be joining Borland, Novell, Lotus, etc. pretty soon. I think that when Apple attacks the enterprise market in a meaningful way, the MS death bell will start to ring. Tiles? Really?
  • Reply 3 of 127
    So lemme see...



    It is OK for Apple to keep everything a secret until they release new features. But Microsoft is required to spell everything out to DED a year in advance?



    Dude, grab some popcorn, don't get wrapped up around the axel... and watch the show.
  • Reply 4 of 127
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 5 of 127
    You realize it's not called iWorks (with an s), right? Apple has always referred to their suite as iWork in the singular.
  • Reply 6 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    its Office group makes more than 100 times the profits of its entire Entertainment and Devices Division.



    shouldn't this say:

    ...makes more than 10 times...
  • Reply 7 of 127
    Back in May Microsoft showed a concept of next gen tile-based Office UI, code name Moorea.



    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=off...&client=safari



    http://www.winrumors.com/office-15-%...ated-on-video/
  • Reply 8 of 127
    I don't expect MS to fall quite so quickly. I haven't tried Windows 8, and think the front end for touch screens looks pretty lame, but I do have Windows 7 on one of my PC's, and for most computing tasks it's just fine. It has no innovation in the desktop, mind you, and gives me essentially the same experience I had on Windows 98, but overall it works, it's stable, and it's pretty snappy.



    The corporate market really has no compelling reason to reinvest in a new platform at the moment. Apple hardware is more than 2x the price of windows workstations, so we'll be seeing Windows pc's in the office for some time now.



    BTW, my law practice is solely based on the Mac, but I still need windows for reliable wordperfect files and use of quickbooks, which is still much better than the OSX release. Thank G*d for virtual machines.
  • Reply 9 of 127
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 10 of 127
    OK, so when I was listening to this line read back by the speech synthesizer in Safari, I did a double-take and had to actually read the text after hearing "...the next gentile based Office UI...



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hurk View Post


    Back in May Microsoft showed a concept of next gen tile-based Office UI, code name Moorea.



    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=off...&client=safari



    http://www.winrumors.com/office-15-%...ated-on-video/



  • Reply 11 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    While eager to demonstrate next year's Windows 8, Microsoft has been reticent to make any promises about a tablet friendly new version of Office sporting the new Metro look, a clear departure from Apple's strategy of presenting the original iPad with a suite of new iWork apps, but only after both were finished and ready to sell. ...



    Good analysis.



    However, it does leave out some of the downside in terms of Apple's plans and achievements in the area of Office productivity apps.



    For instance there is no mention of the fact that the iPad apps are still feature incomplete relative to the desktop versions of iWork, that the feature set of both versions is rather minimal at best, and that Apple has a long history of botching Office productivity apps by basically letting them languish after the initial version.



    Pages for instance has hardly changed or evolved at all from the very first desktop version and while it's simpler and better designed than MS Word, it's neither as powerful nor as flexible. The mobile version is not even as good as that. There is still no pagination, no hyphenation and no stylesheet control (even though the entire program is based on stylesheets), in the mobile app and moving a document from the desktop to a mobile device, currently changes the format of the file in ridiculous ways.



    I use iWork exclusively and as a writer I use Pages for everything I create both on the desktop and the iPad. I use Pages day in and day out on the iPad and on multiple computers and I'm well aware of what it can (and cannot) do. As far as I can see, Apple has shown little sign that they really care that much about those of us that have switched to their productivity apps. The iWork mobile apps feels very much like "placeholder" apps to me. IMO Apple really needs to step up their game here or they will be steamrollered.



    I'm really rooting for Apple to pull it off this time, but it bears saying that even though Apple is currently far ahead of Microsoft on the mobile word processing front, there is still ample time for them to f*ck it up as they have before.



    If Microsoft wasn't so colossally stupid, they would already have made iOS versions of Word and Excel, and already no one would rat's behind about iWork at all. The fact that Microsft has that idiot Balmer in charge and has reacted so slowly to the threat has given Apple a golden opportunity, that so far, they have squandered IMO.



    Given the sheer volume of people using iOS devices, if they actually had a workable Office competitor on iOS that integrated with a workable competitor to office on the desktop, they might even be able to destroy the Office monopoly because their approach and their basic design is superior and the pressure of so many people using an alternative might get it to catch on. I worry however that they will simply display the hubris they have shown so many times and fail completely at this.
  • Reply 11 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Crimguy View Post


    BTW, my law practice is solely based on the Mac, but I still need windows for reliable wordperfect files and use of quickbooks, which is still much better than the OSX release. Thank G*d for virtual machines.



    Please enlighten me, why is QuickBooks for PC better than QuickBooks for Mac? I have had both and can honestly say that I didn't really prefer one over the other (except the fact that the latter runs on a superior OS)...
  • Reply 13 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post


    How did Digler manage to eek two pages out of something a company didn't say?



    Just another slow news day with a contractual obligation for page count....



    How about this for a news story idea...



    Why did AAPL pop 2.5% today when the broader markets fell almost 1%??
  • Reply 14 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Crimguy View Post


    I don't expect MS to fall quite so quickly. I haven't tried Windows 8, and think the front end for touch screens looks pretty lame, but I do have Windows 7 on one of my PC's, and for most computing tasks it's just fine. It has no innovation in the desktop, mind you, and gives me essentially the same experience I had on Windows 98, but overall it works, it's stable, and it's pretty snappy.



    The corporate market really has no compelling reason to reinvest in a new platform at the moment. Apple hardware is more than 2x the price of windows workstations, so we'll be seeing Windows pc's in the office for some time now.



    BTW, my law practice is solely based on the Mac, but I still need windows for reliable wordperfect files and use of quickbooks, which is still much better than the OSX release. Thank G*d for virtual machines.



    I certainly don't expect Microsoft to fall to it knees, but I still don't see why pundits are assuming that consumers will flock to Windows 8 tablets since currently, consumers are not exactly flocking to Windows Phone 7 which seems to be rather similar in function. What is going to be the big consumer lure to throw away iPads just to get a Windows 8 tablet? I can maybe understand tech-heads or even businesses wanting to pilot Win8 tablets, but consumers, no.



    Microsoft is going to have to start from zero developing apps for the Win8 tablet and Apple will already have 100,000+ apps, games and content ready to go. And that's assuming Microsoft can get everything right on the first shot. Any major problems could ruin Microsoft on the tablet front. I believe Windows 8 on the desktop will be fine for users, both consumers and corporations. Honestly, Windows 8 is just too far off to make any calls, good or bad. It needs to get into consumers and businesses hands before any judgment is passed.
  • Reply 15 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    Good analysis.

    ...

    If Microsoft wasn't so colossally stupid, they would already have made iOS versions of Word and Excel, and already no one would rat's behind about iWork at all. The fact that Microsft has that idiot Balmer in charge and has reacted so slowly to the threat has given Apple a golden opportunity, that so far, they have squandered.

    ...



    It's possible that they don't want to bring Word and Excel to iOS simply because Microsoft want to release their own tablet version later. They can then market Windows 8 tablet as the only tablet that has full support for Word & Excel. Of course, it's hard to ignore all the iOS users that can potentially use Office on their iPad.
  • Reply 16 of 127
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by chadmatic View Post


    Please enlighten me, why is QuickBooks for PC better than QuickBooks for Mac? I have had both and can honestly say that I didn't really prefer one over the other (except the fact that the latter runs on a superior OS)...



    And their support sucks for it too.



    Get this, since I have upgraded every version of Quickbooks since 2006, and because I did it that way, I can't save a Windows version of my company that my QB Windows-using accountant can open and use.......AND THEY DON"T KNOW WHY.



    They are aware of the problem but cannot fix it.
  • Reply 17 of 127
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 18 of 127
    macrulezmacrulez Posts: 2,455member
    deleted
  • Reply 19 of 127
    "you ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style." Ballmer then revealed that Microsoft was still in the early stages of exploring the concept by saying, "the question is Metro interface for Office. How critical is it to Windows 8 adoption to have software that takes full advantage of Office with Metro??



    "I'm thinking about this answer for the first time as I speak it. Hope my poker face holds. Next, I'm going directly back to Redmond and kick the pants of the seven highly paid employees who are responsible for me first hearing this question from the press."
  • Reply 20 of 127
    Typing on a tablet is horrible. Just horrible. You'd have to be masochistic to do much data entry that way. So who cares if Office is available for touch based platforms. Watch a movie, read a book, play a game, OK. Fill in cells in a spreadsheet? No freakin way.
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