If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
When it comes to making its most popular software available for the iPad, that’s precisely what Microsoft may be doing.
Late last year, The Daily discovered evidence that Microsoft was working on an iPad version of its popular Microsoft Office suite. And today, it’s reporting that the MS Office iPad app could be submitted to Apple for inclusion in the App Store very soon.
A brief hands-on with a working prototype of the software revealed a number of new things. The app’s user interface is similar to the current OneNote app, but it has hints of Metro, the new design language that can be seen in Windows Phone and in the as-yet-released Windows 8 desktop operating system.
Word, Excel and PowerPoint files can be created and edited locally and online. But it’s unclear if Microsoft will support other Office apps at launch or at all.
While it’s not entirely surprising that Microsoft would look to bring Office to the iPad, there are a number of things worth noting here.
The most obvious is that Microsoft’s move is strong validation that the iPad is here to stay. Yes, Microsoft has high hopes for Windows 8-based tablets, but even if Windows 8 shakes up the tablet market, the Redmond software giant isn’t delusional; it knows that the iPad is going to be the dominant tablet device, particularly for high-end business users, for the foreseeable future.
Second, according to The Daily’s sources, Microsoft has no plans to release an Android version of Office. That may be telling. After all, even though there’s no love lost between Microsoft and Google, Microsoft isn’t exactly best of friends with Apple. Its decision to release a version of Office for the iPad is based on the fact it believes it can’t ignore the iPad. The fact that Microsoft apparently has no plans to cater to Android users strongly suggests that Microsoft isn’t bullish on Android’s prospects in the tablet market.
That could be bad news for Google. While many of us have a love-hate relationship with Microsoft Office, the reality is that for countless millions of users, it’s a required piece of software. It availability on the iPad and unavailability on Android could prove to be a real advantage for Apple and the iPad in the enterprise.