#microsoft office

52 Days

A few tweets of mine today about Microsoft releasing Office for iPad seem to have people up-in-arms. So allow me to clarify.

First, I do think this is an important moment. Not for me, personally, because I still won’t use Office — haven’t in years — but for millions of other people who do and want to use it on their own terms, on their own devices. More importantly, this is important for Microsoft. It’s a grand gesture to suggest they’re finally taking their head out of the sand it has been in for the better part of a decade.

"But, but, but, Microsoft clearly didn’t make Office in 52 days!," they whine. No shit. I’m not saying that Satya Nadella has been the one man hand-coding Office for iPad with both hands tied behind his back for the past 52 days. I’m saying it takes balls for Microsoft to even release Office for iPad at all. Especially now.

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Excel: The Last Microsoft Office Stronghold

There was a good, brief discussion on Twitter tonight about Microsoft Office. Specifically, the fact that it’s 2014, so why the hell is anyone still using it?

To be clear, I know that a lot of people have to use it in their work environment. But that’s more because their office buys it for them and forces them to. It’s a strong method of lock-in that is seemingly still going strong after all these years.

The reality is that there are now more than enough solid-to-better alternatives for much of what Office offers. And some, like Google Docs and now even the Apple iWork suite, are free.1 And so it seems to me that increasingly, Office persists more out of habit (“I don’t know how to do this without Office”) and misguided fear (“what if I need Office for some reason?”) than necessity.

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Mary Jo Foley:

Currently, consumers who want to use the free, Webified versions of Microsoft’s core Office apps — the suite known as “Office Web Apps” — need to know to go to SkyDrive and click on the “Create” tab to find Word Web App, Excel Web App, PowerPoint Web App and OneNote Web App. It’s not intuitive by any stretch.

No, no it’s not. I think the move to “Office Online” would be smart. OneDrive? Total meh.

Google has not yet shown they are truly serious. From the outside, they are an advertising company.

Julia White, a general manager in Microsoft’s business division speaking to The New York Times on the threat of Google Apps.

This quote will probably come back to bite her and Microsoft (as usual). While all eyes are on Microsoft’s fumblings within the Windows Division, far more important is the Office Division, since it’s the company’s largest money-maker. Conventional wisdom holds that this is and will remain a stronghold for Microsoft. But as Quentin Hardy suggests, the walls are showing some very real signs of weakness.

I haven’t used Office in years. I use Google Apps on a daily basis. I can’t see kids asking their parents to buy them Office for their new MacBooks. Maybe some get it bundled with PCs, but will any of them use it on a regular basis? Whoever wins the colleges will win the war. And I wouldn’t bet against Google in the long term.

Microsoft making Office available in some capacity on the iPad is huge news, obviously. But even more interesting is the back-and-forth about this story.

Depending on the hour, Microsoft is either:

  • Readying a version of Office for the iPad in the coming weeks.
  • Not readying a version of Office for the iPad in the coming weeks.
  • Denying the screenshots are real.
  • Not denying the software is real. 
  • Showing off the software to journalists.
  • Denying the software shown to journalists is real. But not denying that software was shown to journalists.

I fully expect this to continue into the night.