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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Some interesting thoughts from Amit Runchal on the iPad threat to Microsoft Office and what an Office for iPad offering might look like. Of note:

If Microsoft unbundles Office, there’s a good possibility many people aren’t going to be buying Microsoft Office. They’re going to be buying Microsoft Word.

Microsoft does rely heavily on the bundling of the Office products together even though most people undoubtedly don’t use all of them equally. When I had Office way back when, it was 99% for Word, as Runchal suggests.

But bundling on the iPad doesn’t really work unless they’re all under one app. Maybe that’s how Microsoft plans to sell the suite, but stand-alone apps seem like the correct play. My guess would be selling each for $20. 

No matter which way you slice it, it seems like Microsoft will take a haircut with an Office for iPad. The real question: is it worth it to them to earn some (likely decent) money while potentially undercutting their own, more lucrative product for PCs? All while paying Apple a 30 percent commission for the privilege no less?

It may be a case of damned-if-they-do, really damned-if-they-don’t.

What If… (Office For iPad Edition)

Watching the back-and-forth yesterday about the whole Microsoft Office for iPad thing was nothing if not amusing. The basic rundown:

It’s coming, here it is.” “That’s not it.” “Yes it is.” “No it’s not, but we didn’t say it’s not coming.” “A Microsoft employee showed it to us.” “No they didn’t, you’re mistaken.” “No we’re not.” “Stay tuned.”

But what if we all missed something obvious going on here? What if Microsoft was being so cagey — and maybe even disingenuous — for a very real reason? What if they don’t want to spoil a very big surprise set for a certain Apple event taking place in a couple weeks?

Now, to be clear, I have no actual information on this one way or another. But this tweet by Matthew Maurice makes some sense:

It’s very clear at this point that Apple and Microsoft both hate Google far more than they hate one another. And both sides seem willing to do whatever it takes to destroy Android. What if Microsoft is planning to do Office for tablets as an exclusive for the iPad (until the Windows 8 tablets come out, of course), while totally shafting Android?

Wouldn’t such a move be worthy of an announcement on stage at an Apple event which also happens to be all about tablets? I think so. 

Doesn’t mean it will happen. That’s just a random, wild guess. But when Microsoft implies that all will be revealed in the “coming weeks”, you can helped but be tickled by the thought…