Regarding MS Office for iPad

What’s the worst that could happen? Everything that Microsoft hopes for with Windows 8 on tablets comes true and it becomes the new Windows PC for the new dominant form factor. The iPad takes the position of the Mac in the PC space. Guess who’s still laughing all the way to the bank?

“Does it run Office?”

“Yes, it’s on the App Store.”

And if Windows 8 for tablets isn’t everything that Microsoft hopes it will be? Well, we start to see Windows as a platform that’s on the way out and iOS as the platform that can carry Microsoft’s Office customers into the future. A future where Microsoft focuses on enterprise components and their lucrative Office suite. And that too may fade, in time. That’s the way things go.

That’s an Apple centric perspective. A Microsoft perspective may well be:

Microsoft is a software company who’s roots lie in delivering tools to personal computer users so they can make the most of their hardware. It started with MS Basic, then MS DOS, then Windows, then Office and then on an on: Visual Basic. Visual Studio. Exchange. Outlook. IIS. ASP. IE. (Well, ok, sometimes we totally overstepped and were really sort of greedy and boring for a decade but, still, we were still trying to be true to that tools for users thing. Or so we told ourselves.)

“Microsoft is thrilled to explore the new avenues of interaction that the burgeoning tablet market has opened to us. We were the first advocate of the tablet as the next vital form-factor and we’re excited to be here today to present our software running on the first popular tablet: iPad.”

That’s a fair pitch. If I’d heard that from a Microsoft representative anywhere I’d think that’s as good a take, and as fair a spin, as they deserve. No lies, direct and grasping at the credibility they talked about but didn’t cement by shipping something great. In all: fair play.

Here’s a quote:

“Apple lives in an ecosystem. And it needs help from other partners. It needs to help other partners. And relationships that are destructive don’t help anybody in this industry as it is today.”

Steve Jobs, 1997

It’s possible that long time Apple watchers focus too much on the part about Apple needing help from its partners. And, to be sure, reducing that risk is a driving concern for the company. But the bit about Apple wanting to help other partners? That seems to go unnoticed. Didn’t Apple try to help other partners when the original iPhone relied so heavily on Google backend services? I’d argue they did — the introduction presentation of the iPhone has a good few minutes just showing off the Google Maps integration. Hell, Steve even prank called a Starbucks just to make the point.

But let’s focus on the key issue of this quotation, and let’s remember that this is just before Bill Gates shows up on a giant screen to “save Apple with a massive investment”:

“relationships that are destructive don’t help anybody”


“Microsoft, if you want to invest in porting Office to the iPad then we really appreciate how much trouble that is for you. Tell you what — we’ll bump the Super Monkey-Ball guys, and the rhythm game guys, and the hack-and-slash sword guys and, you know what? We’ll do it old school. You and us? We’re going to bold the shit out of some text. On stage. Live.”