Ty Anderson

Office Newswire: Office for the iPad – 12.2.2011

I have spent the past two days stuck in a room with no windows learning quite a bit more about architecting Azure solutions. The lack of windows was more than made-up-for by the tasty snacks and coffee Microsoft has for events like the one I attended. Next time I throw a party, I want Microsoft to host it. They know how to do it up right.

I’d be lying to you if I told you I paid attention to every word during training the last couple of days. I mean, I took my laptop with me and Microsoft provides free wi-fi Internet access to their guests…

Plus… I have a duty to honor here with the Office Newswire. It is a symbiotic relationship. I need to write about Office topics and I need you to read them. I’m not sure if that qualifies as symbiotic but it is close enough for me so let’s get started.

Office for the iPad!

I’ve been itching to write about this news since Wednesday. It’s a rumor… not news, but…lots of people wrote articles about it so that makes it news. Here are some of the better articles that report the rumor:

  • Slashgear: Slashgear reports the rumor claiming they heard it from an "Insider". Ummhmmm. Anyways… the apps will sell for $10 so get excited!
  • Macworld: This site wins the price for the most creative headline: "Word to your (iPad-using) Mother". I don’t listen to rap if I can help it but I know enough pop-culture to know that’s a funny headline… yo! They didn’t repeat the same facts as most articles. They took the time to write something original… plus… they make fun of the Save icon. I guess that’s cool because the apps on the Mac are so hip you don’t need to click a save button to make the apps save your document. I have a mac and that drives me a little crazy. I want to click the save icon… even if it is a diskette icon.
  • The Daily: If I have my facts correct, this publication broke the news. It’s only fitting because The Daily is a newspaper published specifically for the iPad. They have all the "facts" regarding this rumor and they rely on unnamed sources. Unnamed sources and Insiders drive me so crazy I want to open my Windows-based Word app and click a Save button.
  • Mary Jo Foley: I like Mary Jo. She is a cynic’s cynic. Her reporting of Microsoft is typically fact-based and even-handed. Here article discusses the "Should they?, could they?, would they?" angles. She has great sources at Microsoft and although she doesn’t ever name them, her reporting and insights are reliable.
  • GigaOM: Darrell Etherington asks, "Do We Need It?". Now that’s a silly question. I didn’t need an iPad and I bought one. I didn’t need two Snickers bars during snack time at Microsoft yesterday but I ate both of them. What does need have to do with it? I have different questions but I suppose need plays a part in the total equation here. They have a survey at the bottom of the article asking if you would purchase iOS-based Office apps. I won’t spoil it.

I have more… so… much… more! The Interweb was and is abuzz about this rumor.

Here is my take regarding Office + iOS

My take is this will happen. Microsoft will release iOS versions of the Office Platform. But the thing about the Apple crowd is they have technology like iCloud and Dropbox that ties their data and documents together nicely. They can access them on their desktop, their laptop, their phone, their iPad and the Internet.

For these apps to be successful, they (MSFT) will need to leverage Office 365 in a big, big, way and make it easy for the Apple crowd to access, edit, and author documents on the iPad.

Also – syncing better be so easy and seamless that users are not aware of it. It should just happen… like the iOS 5 Photo Stream.

And – Microsoft needs to think beyond Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. How about a version of Access that works with Access Web Applications running on Office 365? Hmmm? How about a native iOS app that integrates SharePoint sites with SkyDrive and Live Mesh? How about making that app work with Dropbox and other similarly non-Microsoft products? I have ideas Mr. Ballmer…call me.

One thing is for certain…

No matter what. If, or when, Microsoft releases these rumored iOS Office applications, their UI can’t look anything like this:

 Microsoft Office iPad App: funny ribbon and toolbars

Source: ObamaPacman.com (please don’t ask how I found this)

But if they do include lots and lots of toolbars, commandbars, ribbons, etc…let’s hope they don’t include a save button. That will really set the Apple crowd against Microsoft.

That’s it for today. I hope Microsoft goes for it. The software landscape is changing. It’s a new world out there so shake it up and see what happens, Microsoft.

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