Office no longer an iOS must-have, unless you're Microsoft

Office no longer an iOS must-have, unless you're Microsoft

In the early days of the iPhone and later the iPad, pundits and consumers alike questioned how useful the devices could be without Microsoft's Office productivity suite. For many, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook are synonymous with business and getting things done. The iPhone launched over five years ago, and the iPad is coming up on three years, but in all that time they've yet to have an official Microsoft Office app suite, and with more than 100 million units sold each, sales have clearly suffered tremendously.

That's not to say that a solid word processor, spreadsheet cruncher, and presentation building app aren't essential for the platform - they are, and that's exactly why Apple built Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for iOS. Apple also sells the three iWork apps for $29.97 combined. That's ninety dollars less than the lowest available tier of Microsoft Office for PC or Mac, and that tier is intended for "home and student" use. It's another eighty bucks if you want a version meant for use in your business. The iOS iWork trifecta, however, continues to be less than thirty dollars, no matter what you intend to use it for.

To be fair, there's a fairly large and vocal contingent that insists they need Office. Numbers still isn't as robust as Excel (as any accountant will tell you), for one. But there's also a large institutional memory barrier to be overcome. Business believe that in order to conduct business, they need Office. That barrier is slowly coming down, one business at a time, with more and more picking up iPads in lieu of PCs.

With the iPad approaching its third birthday after completely turning the idea of what a tablet could be on its head while simultaneously and singlehandedly obliterating the netbook market, Microsoft finds themselves in an interesting predicament. Millions upon millions of iPad users have gotten by without Office, and they've flourished without Office. More and more, people are beginning to realize that they don't need Office to crunch numbers or draft documents or create presentations. With their email and contacts and calendar already in the cloud, they don't need Outlook.

Office for iPhone mockup

Microsoft let a golden opportunity pass with iOS. For years and years they've managed to convince the overwhelming majority of Windows users that they need to have Office, and those customers have overwhelmingly ponied up for a license. Microsoft has profited mightily from this impression, with even Mac switchers being willing to plop down the extra cash to purchase a copy of Office for their new OS X machines.

But on iOS they have yet to have that opportunity. Hundreds of millions of iOS devices are out there, with not a single installation of Office in the public. Now, with Microsoft finally ready to roll out Office onto iOS, they've run into loggerheads with Apple over how much of a cut Apple should be able to take for sales made through the app. Specifically, Apple is keen to take a 30% cut of the sale price of any app sold through the App Store and 30% of any purchase made in that app using Apple's App Store backend - subscriptions included. The rules are the rules.

Microsoft's much-rumored Office for iOS is likely to take the form of an Office 365 subscription, which if purchased through Apple would result in a 30% commission for Apple into perpetuity, even if the subscriber switches to another platform (unless they opt to shut down their account and start from scratch - unlikely to say the least). Unsurprisingly, Apple's not budging on this. Not only have they made a lot of money off this model and stand to make even more off of Microsoft's work, but they don't need it.

In the early days of iOS, those questions of how well the platform could succeed without Office support were loud and ongoing. Had Microsoft launched Office on the iPhone and iPad early on, they could have furthered the impression that Office was a must-have for anybody serious about anything, even on iOS. But they let years pass, and now Microsoft's flagship applications aren't so must-have anymore and Apple isn't overly eager to accommodate them. It's easy to imagine that four years ago when preparing to launch the iPhone App Store Apple may have been more willing to negotiate with Microsoft to get flagship apps like Word and Excel on the smartphone. But today? Apple's doing just fine without them.

Office for iPad mockup

Apple doesn't need Office, and if they can't get past the issue of Apple's cut of revenue, then Apple will happily move on without Office. Apple is a "my way or the highway" company, and that shouldn't surprise anybody. Would Apple get additional App Store income and sell even more iPhones and iPads with Office available? Sure. But that's not going to happen if Microsoft isn't willing to accept Apple's terms.

One could argue, on the other hand, that Microsoft needs iOS. While the "Maybe I don't need Office…" effect is one that is obviously of great concern to Microsoft's cash cow software, the potential of that realization for potential customers leads to further realizations: "Maybe I don't need a PC at all."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is betting the entire company on Windows 8, Windows RT, and Windows Phone. They've finally recognized that mobility is the future and they've built two-and-a-half operating systems that embrace that future. Windows RT and Windows Phone both come out of the box with Microsoft Office, an implicit admission that Office is a selling point for customers.

Office is synonymous with Windows in the minds of many, and once they realize that they don't necessarily need Office, then they don't need Windows either. By letting the world's most popular smartphone and tablet go for all these years without Office and giving Apple long enough to cement the stronger negotiating position, Microsoft's sacrificed the opportunity to breed another generation of users who absolutely, unequivocally, must have Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook. And that could very well be Microsoft's undoing.

Derek Kessler

Managing Editor of Mobile Nations, Army musician, armchair pundit, and professional ranter.

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There are 172 comments. Add yours.

ltrs says:

Derek you're obviously not a business person. I love my IPad but the idea that I don't need office anymore is crazy. There isn't anything out there that even comes close to replacing it-- especially Word, Excel, and Outlook.

Derek Kessler says:

What do you do that absolutely requires Office?

Jeff Kibuule says:

If you are working on documents for yourself, or to simply paste into a textbox, Google Docs (or any word editor is fine). If you are sharing documents with others, particularly in a business, using anything other Office is foolhardy.

I don't know why websites keep thinking that Office isn't needed in day to day business use. The Verge had a similar article a few months ago. A business is not going to run it's finances through Google Docs.

vanadiumdroid says:

And thats the point, the businesses that need to run their finances through Office are not the majority. I am a PhD student, and I think I can get by just fine without Office, I currently use a Wndows Machine, but an iPad and iPhone. My next machine will be a Mac, and I will try to get by without Office. Most students, and typcial end users may not need Office at all.

9thWonder says:

you're a student, and possibly in a discipline not writing intensive. But you're not a businessperson in a business that does desktop publishing daily. For those people you need office. The issue is you don't do that on ios. So it's moot.

dmkraig says:

As part of the publishing industry, I can honestly say that trying to be effective and present a QUALITY product using Office for desktop publishing is like trying to make a good steak by bar-b-quing a head of lettuce. I suppose if you try real hard it might be done, but why?

Scientific Bob says:

Come back when you actually work in an administrative department and are asked to process and filter a csv-file with hundreds of thousands of records, spanning multiple columns after wich every individual record is merged with a macro-enabled word template and mailed to an email address found in every individual record. And are required to accomplish this within the hour.

The lesson here is: if you have 0 experience with daily administrative business use cases, don't try and make claims about what tools those people need.

The fact of the matter is that enterprise-wise, google docs doesn't even reach office's ankles. Office is more then creating a silly powerpoint presentation and writing a few words in word.

SteveW928 says:

I've never had to do anything like that... despite solving IS/IT problems for clients for near a decade, and having worked nearly another decade in IS/IT for a Fortune 50. And, if I had to do something like that, I could find several ways that needn't involve Office.

The reason you'd use Office are A) because someone has already cobbled up some Office based solution that you are told to use, or B) because you've only got Office skills and don't know any better or differently.

I think the point we're making is that there is no actual reason you'd HAVE to do it that way, other than legacy or lack of skills.

Scientific Bob says:

Your point is moot, I'm sorry to say.

There's also these little things called "efficiency", "ease of use", "integration", "playing nice with other systems", etc.

Off course you can do everything in alternative ways.
You can also grab a 286, put a DOS floppy in and work the way they did in 1983. Invoices also managed to get to the right person in those days. They even did before we even had any computers.

The point is that I see people suggesting office "alternatives" just for the sake of suggesting an alternative or simply because they have some popular opinion about microsoft.

Not once have I ever seen any of these "alternatives" be more cost- or workload efficient then office based solutions.

SteveW928 says:

I think efficiency and ease of use are kind of the point. Integration and playing nice with other system is more a matter of if you're forced to be Office compatible. There are all kinds of more cost and workload efficient solutions, unless the presupposition is Office from the get-go.

Scientific Bob says:

Again, I've been a software engineer and consultant for a long time now.

I've seen a lot of companies and a lot of different use cases. I've heared a lot of people yap about how "bad" office is and how alternatives are "so much better".

But again, NOT ONCE did any of these people actually prove, demonstrate or substantiate their claims with actual data. Not once have I seen any of these people show that alternatives indeed ARE more efficient, provide better integration, reduce workload and/or reduce costs.

Not. Once.

Seriously, stop thinking with that consumer mindset.
Yes, for a lot of home users who use word to keep a collection of recipes or whatever, there are indeed alternatives that are less costly. But we are not talking about those users here.

We are talking about enterprises. These entities do not think like consumers do. If there are alternatives out there that indeed would benefit the company (especially if it benefits them financially), you may be sure as hell that they will go for it.

The very fact that office STILL is the defacto standard in the vast majority of enterprises is actually pretty much all the evidence you need to conclude that no alternatives currently on market are actual "alternatives".

Do you really think enterprises haven't looked into things like open office? For real?

Again, I've been a consultant for a long time and am quite at home in Office automation. I can tell you, black on white and with straight face, not a SINGLE competing product can do the things that office can do.

SteveW928 says:

You probably haven't seen proof, as that kind of productivity can be hard to measure. All I can tell you is that I write much better with a word processor that doesn't get in the way all the time and has a decent UI... and well implemented features. Most people don't use Office because it's so great... they use it because that's what they've got or are told to use. Most seem frustrated with it in my experience.

I didn't say other products can do EVERY THING office can do... but they don't need to. The enterprise uses Office because of the DOC, etc. format, not because they can't find something better for cheaper. Also, the enterprise isn't exactly known for making good software decisions. I was Sr. IS/IT at a Fortune 50 for nearly a decade, and we used LOTUS NOTES for crying out loud. Can you find ANYTHING less efficient than that? They used it because it was easy for the IT dept, not because it was good for the users. It totally sucked. Everyone hated it. (Especially when most people used other e-mail packages personally and had a good point of comparison.)

Most people don't really use another word processor all that much to compare. Up until recently, I've always had a copy of Office on my system (both at work and home) and hardly ever use it besides document translation. On OSX, Nisus Writer Pro destroys Word for serious word processing. (BTW, I/we used databases for for many of the things Office users try to do with scripts. Better, faster, more flexible.) The only Office app worth much of anything is Excel.

Harkkum says:

-- as a matter of fact, there was an attempt in German regional governance where they tried to use OpenOffice as their Office solution. It did not work and they called for a change after a number of years of use (hence, no inexperience or peculiar allegiance with the MS Office software solution). I think that your argument just keeps on spinning around and around without any substance. Sorry.

EPJS says:

Jeff Kibuule – I haven't used or needed Office in years. With other suits, such as OpenOffice, Neo Office, Libre Office, iWork, and other "non Google Docs" suits out there, Microsoft Office really isn't needed.

Why do you think the "only" alternative is Google Docs? Have you really never bothered to look into Office alternatives?

Hammer says:

Derek: I, like others in the 3000 employee company I work for need Office every day. In addition to the normal office apps, Outlook and Lync is the global communication platform.

My family is big on iOS devices but don't kid yourself, they are not replacements (yet) for the heavy lifting done with Office on Windows.

This is precisely why Surface matters. Am buying the Pro version next month and since this hybrid tablet/laptop device DOES run Office, my use of the iPad will dwindle.

I think lots of others will agree.

ltrs says:

I do agree. That's why Apple should make a deal. I've already preordered a windows pro tablet for this very reason - I want a tablet that let's me use office.

MickeyBlue-Eyes says:

Outlook is an email client. I can access exchange using Apple Mail which I prefer. Lync I have NEVER seen used in the wild. Office is easily replaceable. The only thing keeping it and Microsoft alive are ignorant anti-Apple zealots IT managers who will eventually be replaced by a more progressive younger generation.

I think a few dozen agree with you.

Scientific Bob says:

Outlook is much more then an email client.

If you would actually have professional and advanced knowledge of Office and all its features, you wouldn't say such stupid things.

BC 2009 says:

So its a calendar and a contacts manager and a notes manager and a personal status dashboard... Anything else useful about it? None of those functions are terribly interesting because there are so many equivalents available. The only thing useful about it is that like the Lotus Notes/Domino combination the Outlook/Exchange combination gives you some nice enterprise management tools so you don't have to build it out of pieces and parts. But you can run Exchange without Outlook quite easily these days.

Scientific Bob says:

Dude... you could manage an entire company using outlook.
I know, because that's exactly what is happening at the company where I'm at right now.

Everything from tasks/todo's to meeting schedules, time planning, calendar sharing, meeting room reservation, worker location tracking,....
It's also combined with Lync to allow for instant meetings using webcams.

I've been at this company for over a month now and I still discover new things they do with it on an almost daily basis.

I'm quite surprised myself actually at how efficient this really is.

Off course there are equivalents for all these things... But why would you want to use 7 different applications (that don't communicate well - if at all) when you can do it all with 1 pretty much effortlessly?

Larry Davis2 says:

Pretty sure that's Exchange managing all that, not a client application like Outlook.

Why so angry?

gordol says:

Name an alternative to Outlook that can provide the clientside access to all of that, then.

Why so hateful?

Larry Davis2 says:

What was hateful about my comment?

I connect to an exchange server daily without the need for Outlook. In my case I use iOS devices. I do use a Windows desktop. We don't use or need Lync. We just replaced Communicator with Cisco Jabber. It's tied into our WebEx, phones, and voicemail. None of that requires Outlook.

gordol says:

What was so angry about Scientific Bob's?

You can do all of the things Bob mentioned with Outlook connected to Exchange, and that is the only way to get all of that in a single software package. Yes, there are many applications that can connect to Exchange for specific functions, such as email or calendaring, etc, including iOS. But Outlook and Exchange are two sides of the same service, and are designed to work together. You may not need all of those functions, but many enterprise setups need a large portion of them.

In my last contract position at a Fortune 100 shop, Outlook/Exchange was used for individual email and calendars, delegated email and calendars, group shared email and calendars, tasks/to-dos, web meetings, online chat and audio/video calls (via MS Communicator/Lync), and conference room reservations. The only way I know of to get all of that in one package and not use Outlook with Exchange is to use a completely different client and server package, like Lotus Notes (which I do not like).

SteveW928 says:

Just like IE6 or Lotus Notes? I suppose if you're all stuck in legacy-land with no will to move forward, that's the case. However, you likely don't NEED to stick with Office, whether 5 or 5000. It's more of a "we do it this way because that's how we've done it" situation, which is certainly more challenging to get past in a larger organization.

gordol says:

I contracted on the IT Help Desk of a Fortune 100 company with over 44k domestic employees this past year, and the integration level of MS Office into the daily work goes beyond "Outlook for email and Excel for spreadsheets". Entire departments were started to be transitioned from VOIP desk phones to VOIP via Lync, which means via Outlook. File shares via Sharepoint. Several custom and/or proprietary business applications integrate in or make heavy use of Word or Excel, some collect data from the user and enter it into a template that is then fed into Word to produce business letters. Similarly, other "major applications" are integrated into the processes on a programmatic basis, rather than merely on a procedural basis even though there are other alternatives.

Why? Because most of those alternatives are fine for the home or smaller business user (Foxit Reader instead of Adobe Reader, forex), they don't have the featureset and APIs needed for the task being put on them in an enterprise situation. Although I was surprised when one process was changed from using Adobe Professional to PDF Creator.

SteveW928 says:

I agree. I certainly understand legacy. It's just a shame year (decades) of dumb IS/IT implementations has gotten them into this kind of situation. It's really going to cost them a lot some day when they have to move on. But, yea, they'll hang on to it for as long as they possibly can.

BC 2009 says:

Don't kid yourself about the Surface. I was really excited for a touch-optimized version of Office for Surface and seeing that translated to iPad, but Office is the one app that forced the Surface RT to include the crippled desktop. This was simply because they failed to create a touch-optimized version of it. Apple's iWork suite has a far superior touch interface and it just got so much better with the last update. I was excited for a mobile/tablet version of Office until I finally saw that Microsoft's idea of "touch optimized" was bigger icons and more space.

If your primary driver for computer is Microsoft Office, then I suggest you get a normal laptop or Ultrabook. The Surface Pro is likely to be a bigger disappointment than the Surface RT.

I also own a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover for my iPad for working on a novel and while this accessory is far superior to Microsofts Touch/Type Cover + Kickstand combo for lap usage it still gets in the way of using the iPad like a tablet (i.e.: you have to get the keyboard out of the way when you don't need it). If I was not working on a novel, I would not even own the tablet keyboard because it does get in your way. Everything I have seen about Surface so far looks like it was designed with a keyboard in mind and because of that, it is compromised as both a tablet and a laptop. Do yourself a favor and stop waiting for Surface Pro and pick up one of the available Windows 8 laptops that are available today and act like real laptops.

tsmyther says:

If you're serious about writing on an iPad, I'd suggest spending the $100 on an Apple Bluetooth keyboard and an InCase Origami Workstation case for it. This combination is the same price as the Kensington cover, but is a full-sized keyboard, rather than one not much larger than the on-screen one. Plus, you can just leave it at home or in your bag when you want to use your iPad by itself, rather than having to juggle the heavy keyboard/case into position.
This combination is quite flexible for those who aren't trying to make the iPad into a laptop replacement.

gordol says:

I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, I have some simple spreadsheets that misbehave in every "Office compatible" iPad app I've tried. Even on simple collumn sum tables. And Numbers does NOT work xls/xlsx files, never mind actually sync files.

MickeyBlue-Eyes says:

Yes Numbers DOES work with Excel xls and xlsx files! I use it EVERY DAY! And because programmers have trouble converting MS file formats, which are barely compatible with Microsofts own Office versions, it's their fault? Maybe use programs that are programmed well.

gordol says:

It imports xls/xlsx and saves-as xls, but unless the newest version has updated the compatibility, does not export to xlsx, and having to save-as and THEN manually transfer off the device is hardly what I would call "working with" the files.

Jenna Jameson says:

Try doing the same in Windows....you can't. That is the beauty do iWorks suite.

gordol says:

Huh? In Windows, there is no need to convert anything to/from Office formats because the applications I have ARE Office.

henrymagnusrex says:

"Absolutely requires" is a bit of a non issue. Could a persont "get by" without office? Sure, most could. But it may very well come at a high price of productivity and weak collaboration. If office is still used by and useful for the majority of the business world (and it is,) then it is almost irrelevant to talk about what is "absolutely required."

The more valid point would be that, for many, office would be immensely useful.

SteveW928 says:

True, but not for technical reasons... more because there are so many dough-heads that can't seem to figure out or be bothered to use more standard formats. For the most part, Office is a really expensive translator that a majority still seem to think is somehow necessary. You'll be more productive if you can break away from it (and can minimize having to interact with the dough-heads).

Dwigt says:

You fail to see the big picture, which was the point of the article.
Office won't go anywhere in the near future. It's just that people are starting not to use for everything everywhere. And it's a huge shift, similar to what happened when minicomputers were complemented by personal computers.

So far, for any project, people have tended to rely on Office or on a similar office suite. That's what made Microsoft so important. Business couldn't live without Office and without Windows. Every computer had to have it.
But iPads and other tablets have begun to reveal quite useful in the workplace, even without Office. Actually, they're being deployed now in businesses. And the big thing isn't that they're being deployed without Office being a must-have feature. I doubt that many companies have been waiting for Office to be ported to make a buy. And Windows RT hasn't made a difference with its competitors despite having Office on it.

So, people have been able to get some use from these devices in the workplace without Office or a specific office suite. They may use specific apps or something else, but the thing we're not living anymore in a world in which Office is required every step of the way. Five years ago, businesses were somewhat afraid of leaving Microsoft in some way. Today, it turns out that they have moved away from some Microsoft, especially Office, by using mobile devices, and it didn't even hurt that much. They will keep on having Office on PCs but having an all integrated Microsoft solution is no longer the main option.

shoey5 says:

This is a very small minded Apple "North American" fan mentality. It's like someone with a honda civic putting a Lamborghini body kit on their car and saying there is no point in buying a Lamborghini even if you had the money.

Apple makes good products but nothing compares to the MS Office Suite. It's what gives devices justification in the enterprise market. Large companies build internal applications around Office products. A lot of these apps legacy and they don't want to update them. Last thing these companies want to do if they can avoid it is put extra man hours and money into trouble shooting compatibility issues or dealing with missing functionality.

Give a company a Microsoft Surface running Office, Android Tablet running office and an iPad running Apple's suite and tell them to pick one for their environment and see which one they pick.

Apple knows this, that's why they are trying to get a cut of the sales. The article should be the complete opposite.

iSRS says:

"Apple knows this, that's why they are trying to get a cut of the sales."

Nope. Apple is just sticking to the model it instituted and explained the very day it announced the App Store. It gives no company, regardless of how big, special treatment.

Scientific Bob says:

"Apple is just sticking to the model it instituted "

False. Microsoft proposed to remove ALL features that were against these rules (sign up button, buttons to buy extra space, etc) and Apple STILL rejected the update.

For the record: that's EXACTLY what dropbox and amazone proposed and apple accepted it from them. So why is msft so special here?

iSRS says:

Not saying you are wrong, but how do you know this?

Also, there are no office for iOS apps, so there is no "removing" features, per se, and there certainly is no update.

But I would like to know how you know the progression of these 'talks'

Are you one of the app developers?

Scientific Bob says:

This is public information and just part of the soap. Google knows.

BC 2009 says:

You are privy to the negotiations going on between Apple and Microsoft here? I highly doubt that.

Jenna Jameson says:

How can a dude named "Scientific Bob" be wrong? I am sure he was in on the negotiations between Apple and MS.

Whatever, and a Baba Booey to y'all.

iSRS says:

BEST. COMMENT. EVER.

Scientific Bob says:

No. I just learned how to read instead of flashing my tits.

Larry Davis2 says:

No need for that. Apple has never released publicly any reasons for an app rejection. So you have absolutely no way of knowing anything.

Scientific Bob says:

There have been plenty of follow up articles detailing this.

"The report claims that Microsoft has offered to remove the subscription options from the SkyDrive app, but Apple has still declined to allow updates to the app"

Taken from http://www.macrumors.com/2012/12/11/apple-and-microsoft-reportedly-facin...

Note the website that posted the article. Yes, I did that on purpose.

SteveW928 says:

re: "Large companies build internal applications around Office products."
In other words, large companies aren't that bright. They also built systems based on code that requires IE6, etc. They use Lotus Notes. This is something to be emulated?

Let them dwell in legacy land. It's time to move on.

shoey5 says:

Not a big fan of lotus notes but there is a reason why companies use it. You really have no idea to the scale and complexity of these Enterprise environments do you?

paleh0rse says:

I'm guessing that you've never managed, worked on, or even seen a true global Enterprise Network -- as in hundreds of thousands of users, and thousands upon thousands of unique servers, applications, portals, scripts, databases, etc etc... not to mention the user, application, and security policies that must be centrally managed and monitored across the entire thing.

Attempting to wedge an Apple device into such an environment is like dropping poison into a well.

Trust me, we're on two very different levels here...

SteveW928 says:

Yea... I do. I've been Sr. IS/IT in a Fortune 50. I used to consult to some of the largest companies in the world, but that was back in the days of Novel and mainframes. (Ever see ABB's network?) I'm just aware that 1) there are now standards that could be used, with a bit more work from IT, that would greatly open things up and make a better end-user experience, and 2) that the vast majority of companies aren't in that situation, yet still unnecessarily mimic the the decisions of the big companies.

BTW, the department I was in at the Fortune 50 had a huge number of Macs. We were the most profitable department, with a fairly low IT budget (in comparison). We had few problems working with the other IT departments that weren't due to their ignorance (usually just plain bias). Fortunately, being the dept that is nearly keeping the company afloat gave us quite a bit of leverage to do things as we wanted. And, in part, that's WHY we were the most profitable. We were able to implement much more advanced technology quickly with a smaller team, to outrun the competition.

9thWonder says:

100% of my desktop publishing, every court filing, motion, letter, contract, etc. Now the real thing is i'm NEVER gonna do that on an ios device. i do that on a real computer with office. So i agree i don't need it for ios. But it's utter fallacy to think i don't need it. It's not there are no other tools but it's not like photoshop is the only photo editor but a lot of professionals use it.

There is a vast difference between the needs of students, people whose work doesn't require much writing, or people that are just speaking form the perspective of a tech enthusiast. For people that write often for work Office is often a preferred suit, but on a desktop because, it's rare that serious people do extensive text entry on a phone or even tablet. And by extensive i mean more more then 10 pages of writing. I think it's kinda like people that think laptops will die out in the "post pc" era without looking around at all the computers in use that aren't going anywere, like pretty much every office in the world.

SteveW928 says:

Well, I use Pixelmator because I deal mostly with TIFF, JPEG, PNG, etc. I don't really need Photoshop file format compatibility (although it has it). Similarly, there is no reason most people need DOC. I worked through undergrad and grad school without using DOC, and I did a heck of a lot of writing! I now mostly write and don't use DOC. Word isn't a productivity tool, but a bloated translator. If you're talking about writing, there are MUCH better choices. What you're talking about is being compatible with what all the other lemmings are passing around, not writing. That's legacy, not productivity.

AND, with an external keyboard, one can write pretty darn well on a tablet. If you're not near power, much better, as you don't have to stop after a couple of hours.

thelioncentral says:

I admit that Word and Excel are good products. I have always been surprised why no other companies thought to build alternatives that are equally good. Seems no one dares to compete with Microsoft. Also, of all things Microsoft makes, Office and Excel are the two things I find are very good, good enough that I don't wish for an alternative. But the truth is alternatives could be found, and the switch would be easy. The biggest hurdle in my opinion is the interchange of formats. A standard needs to come out, and it needs to support everything all programs would need it to support. Since docx and xlsx are noe supposedly open, they could become the standard.

henrymagnusrex says:

There are lots of good options out there. Apple's iWork suite is just one case.

The problem seems to stem from true compatibility. Regardless of the letters at the end of the filename, there are huge compatibility issues between productivity suites. As the vast majority already uses MS Office, those compatibility problems are minimized if you just use office.

Scientific Bob says:

"and the switch would be easy."

No, it wouldn't.
Companies that actually use office to its full potential make heavy use of macro's and vba modules. None of which would run on competing suites - no matter file format compatability. Google Docs, Open office, whatever, will not be able to interpret these macro's or VBA.

And then off course, there's things like Sharepoint.

axllebeer says:

Open office I find is more user friendly than MS office anyway.

Scientific Bob says:

In enterprise, nobody cares about "user friendly" if the necessary features aren't present.

They need things that work, not things that are flashy.

ltrs says:

I pull data from databases that need to be sliced and diced and pivot tabled in Excel. I receive document attachments from others in email (that also use Word) that must be edited and retain their formatting. I need contact management, email, tasks and calendar that are tied together. And can send and receive meeting requests. I share powerpoints with others. I could go on and on. The list is endless. I spent almost every working moment of my day in office programs and so do my hundreds of clients.

khurtwilliams says:

None of those things are possible on Office for RT.

shn'g says:

Do you even own an RT device?

khurtwilliams says:

Have you even used a Surface RT device? I don't own one but I have use one.

SteveW928 says:

That's a compatibility matter, not a capability matter. The same would be true for some other company, inserting some non-Office product names in the blanks. Sure, if you're doing Office and have no will to do it without Office, you're going to need Office. BUT, many have found that they can do these things just fine without Office.

I think the point of the article wasn't that no one uses Office any more... but that many are now discovering that they really don't need Office to do the tasks they need to do. Office then becomes a translator, which you don't even really need if you can get the folks you work with to use a more standard format of information exchange.

khurtwilliams says:

Exactly! And for the most part, in most large companies, only a few people need the macros and pivot tables etc. If you don't need those feature of Office then .... Google Docs, Open Office, Pages etc will do.

gordol says:

"Office then becomes a translator, which you don't even really need if you can get the folks you work with to use a more standard format of information exchange."?

Office IS the standard. Of all of the Office alternatives, how many of them output to Office formats? All of them. Many even do so by default. Certainly all of the tablet apps I've used for my minimal needs for document and spreadsheet use on the go natively and by default do so. I don't have Pages installed on my iPad because I haven't had any problems with .doc/.docx files, but even Numbers can import/export MS Office file types. Why?

Because MS Office IS the standard format of information exchange. There may not have been an ISO or whatever committee to decide this, but it's come about on a de facto basis, that application space has matured with MS Office at the top and it's been there for so long, that even if MS Office gets knocked off the top spot, its file formats will remain as the standard.

khurtwilliams says:

Please point me to the standards documents that defines any Office file format as a standard?

Open Document Format is a Microsoft Office, Open Office, and Google Drive supported standard:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument#Standardization

Just because a bunch of other folks continue to push Microsoft Office does not mean anyone NEEDS to use it. Someone mentioned iSheep. What about Microsoft Cows?

I will happily continue to save my documents in a REAL standard format so that I am not beholden to Microsoft for anything. If you are using the more recent versions of Microsoft Office you will have the ability to open and use my ODF documents.

In any case, you are missing the point of the article. Most of us do NOT need macros and pivot tables etc. We just need to format some text with images, graphs etc. Microsoft Office is not necessary for that purpose. Google Drive, Pages etc will suffice.

And Microsoft Office on Surface RT doesn't do macros or pivot table or any advanced desktop Office tricks. So on an iPad or Android OS based device ... the alternatives are already good enough.

I'm not sure why the "defenders' of Microsoft Office can't seem to get that point.

gordol says:

Not everything is a standard because some recognized organization said so. Refer back to my comment where I said that jpg2000 is a standard. It's a standard, but nobody uses it. PDF became a standard by fiat of usage long before Adobe released it as an "Open Standard" to the ISO for certification.

MS Office formats have long been standards by fiat of usage.

SteveW928 says:

And they've also been proprietary for a long time. By standard, I think we mean something that is interoperable.

gordol says:

In case you didn't know, the '07 and '10 versions use zip archives of xml files now, not proprietary binaries.

Scientific Bob says:

All those things are possible on RT. The only thing RT can't do is run VBA code.

mab4285 says:

I would have to agree with ltrs. Even though Exchange is natively supported by iOS, I still can't do everything I need to do without access to Outlook (manage rooms, see room/coworker availability).

Even though I could use pages/numbers/keynote on my iPad, you still have formatting issues when bringing it back to Word.

mab4285 says:

Thanks for making my point for me. :) If Outlook were to come to iOS, you probably could manage to do all of that on the iPad.

khurtwilliams says:

Outlook wouldn't come to iOS for the same reason it's not on Surface RT. ActiveSync is Microsoft's mobile access solution for Exchange. The Exchange protocol is extremely chatty. You'd use up your data plan very quickly.

Ath0 says:

I think this latest Microsoft whining is nothing but their continued attempt to throw mud at other platforms - surely they knew what to expect already, the store rules are clear - but this article makes a great point.

People have been buying iPads by the millions without MS Office. There's plenty of alternatives these days.

Office "Touch" on RT is already proving to be quite unpalatable and full of bugs and I doubt the iOS version will be much better - knowing Microsoft it'll probably be worse just to make their own platform look good. Like the RT version, it will have to do without VBScript and all that old baggage so it's not even an option for power users.

Just a little niggle about the article, users don't need to shut down their account to stop an iTunes subscription.

iTunes subscriptions are just a payment method, so if users stop the subscription in iTunes their service remains until the end of the subscription term. The Live account is independent from iTunes.

The user can also opt to extend the subscription outside of iTunes at any time. Zinio for example does this with their mag subscriptions, frequently offering better deals on renewals outside of the app store. That's OK with Apple as long as the extension is done outside of the app.

crystal_planet says:

To which "bugs" are you referring? If you mean that the RT version of Office doesn't have the complete version set of the x86 suite then yes, that would be correct. However, my Office suite on my Surface is quite palatable, thank you very much. And I haven't run into any bugs yet.

Enjoy your iWorks. I'm sure it is a fine product.

khurtwilliams says:

But Office on RT is still not feature complete compared to the desktop version and does no more than Pages does. The iPad ( or Nexus 7 or 10 if that's your platform) does not NEED Microsoft Office.

Ath0 says:

No, I mean glaring bugs in Office RT widely documented everywhere.
See these videos for example: http://ozar.me/2012/10/why-im-returning-my-microsoft-surface-rt/

iSRS says:

What every comment here is assuming: Microsoft Office for iOS will do everything Microsoft Office on Mac/Windows will do.

Preview for you: It won't.

Does it even on the current Surface? Honest question.

Ath0 says:

No. On the Surface it lacks (according to Microsoft):

* support for macros
* add-ins and other features that rely on ActiveX controls or third-party code, including Flash support
* support for legacy media formats in PowerPoint
* support for equations constructed in Equation Editor 3.0
* selected emailfeatures which rely on a full-fat version of Outlook
* Excel Data Models, although pivot tables, query tables and pivot charts will operate as normal; * recording narrations in PowerPoint
* searching embedded audio and video files
* recording audio or video notes

I think lack of support for macros in general and legacy formats in Powerpoint (i.e. many video/audio files won't play) are probably the worse limitations.

khurtwilliams says:

Which makes all the arguments I've seen made here about how business need Office because of all the macros etc. sort of moot. Might as well use Pages or Numbers or something else.

SteveW928 says:

They will need it if they aren't willing to move on and it is an integral part of their workflow. The question is, for what percentage of users this is really an issue. I'd guess not that many really. Most people don't do anything with Office they couldn't just as easily do with most other office-type apps. The only reason they really need Office is as a file translator, as everyone they work with can't figure out how to (or be bothered to) put the data in more standard formats.

Vital0gy says:

So what should the new standard be then? I see you all over the comments section here blasting people and the businesses they work for as being dough heads for continuing to use Office. I interface with thousands of vendors across the globe. The one thing that ties us all together is the compatibility when reviewing spreadsheets. It's not a simple matter of snapping our fingers and magically everyone we interface with starts using another program. Especially, when our vendors deal with thousands of other companies. You must have some standardization in a global world. What is your plan to migrate all of us dough heads in the world to something that you would prefer?

khurtwilliams says:

Open Document Format is a formatting standard. It's support in Office, Open Office and Google Docs.

https://www.oasis-open.org/committees/tc_home.php?wg_abbrev=office

gordol says:

That does not make it the or even a standard. For example, the image file space is littered with file extensions no one uses: jpg2000 is an existing file format, it was introduced in the year 2000 and was supposed to replace jpg. 12 years later, and still no one uses it. Anyone use jif files? rle? Almost all of them were introduced by companies who thought their product was so good that everyone else would drop their own formats and use theirs. Anyone remember what Kodak's output file format was? The only image file extension I know of that was an actual standard and got supplanted was gif, and that was at least partly due to licensing issues as the format itself was wholly owned by CompuServ.

I think XKCD said it best: http://xkcd.com/927/

khurtwilliams says:

Microsoft Office ( and Open Office ) has supported ODF since 2008. So .. it seems to me that I don't need to use Office -- unless of course the large company I am exchanging documents with is still running software from 2007. Then I have to wonder if I want to do business with a dinosaur.

iSRS says:

Well, then, you may not want to do business with a lot of companies still running XP/Office 2003 until they are forced to upgrade next year...

gordol says:

My Office '07 supports OpenOffice documents. But no one I correspond with uses them, they all use .doc/.xls, and within the past couple of years, .docx/.xlsx since they've mostly made the jump from Office '03 to either '07 or '10.

Technically, there is no reason why I could not switch from MS Office to OpenOffice (or LibreOffice) as they all can save in the required MS Office formats. Except that I have no reason to. I already own my copy of Office and it works.

The only reason I would have to recommend something else to someone else would be if they are just starting out and/or cannot afford or otherwise justify the expense of buying MS Office. Which does not apply in a corporate situation.

SteveW928 says:

It's not just a matter of cost. I want to use a decent apps.

SteveW928 says:

Someone has to be brave enough to ask for it in a different format. When I get a doc or docx file, I often re-request it as a PDF (if no-one has to edit it.... why the heck would someone send out a doc or docx if no one needs to edit it???), Open Document or RTF (if they can't handle the others). If enough people did this, even Office users might start getting the hint to use something non-proprietory.

gordol says:

As a user, I don't care what the output format is, so long as my content and formatting is intact. I use .docx when the file needs to be available for editing or when specifically requested, and .pdf for everything else. I don't "save as" pdf, as that turns an 80 kilobyte file into a 3.5 megabyte file. Instead, I use a PDF printer that results in an 85 kilobyte file. When I was still using .doc files by default, the .doc would be 3 megabytes.

gordol says:

So what are these supposed "more standard formats" you keep harping on? From what I've seen, .doc and .docx ARE the standard for word processor files, .xls and .xlsx for spreadsheets, .ppt and .pptx for presentations, etc.

Job application sites I use in my job hunt all say to upload resumes in .doc, .docx or .pdf. Some here and there support .rtf. They do accept .txt, but literally no one uses that if they need any kind of formatting. None have the .odt (OpenOffice) file format listed.

SteveW928 says:

Yes, they are the 'standard' in that's what most people send and receive (expect)... but that 'standard' (popular) isn't actually standard (compatible).

ltrs says:

I'm not saying I need office on the IPad. I'm just the authors opinion that people don't need office anymore in general is not based in reality.

sam tapsell says:

Anyone who has a new business is going to avoid going down the road to microsoft dependence. I agree it is difficult for established businesses, as they already have workflows in place which are costly to replace and may work well for them.

They are a legacy company with no ability to shape the future. (Hence trying too hard with windows 8). They will have no option but to agree to apple's terms regarding office on IOS. Microsoft's problem: no new products and no new customers.

Moving along, the next big industry earning too much, for doing too little is the Mobile Telco's. How about apple going for simple voice calls over data, to complement iMessage and Facetime? That will cause some ripples?

marketsqhero says:

The data you plan to use for that coming from erm, the Mobile Telcos??

sam tapsell says:

Yup, then they become "dumb pipes"

ltrs says:

I don't think that's accurate at, Sam. I do business start up consulting for a living. Out of hundreds of clients I only have 2 that use Macs. And even they have Office for the Mac. The rest are windows users and they all use Office as well. Even new businesses need to communicate, collaborate, etc. And Office is the standard.

sam tapsell says:

Point taken, you're right. I am wrongly thinking about technology start ups. My mate across the road who has a new Gym equipment business uses office. (on a mac).

SteveW928 says:

Why (do they use Office, or is it the 'standard')? I thought you were a business consultant... or don't you get involved with their technology workflow? Are they just making that choice because 'everyone else does it'? Maybe they need a tech consultant too.

SteveW928 says:

The sad thing is, I actually used to do tech consulting back when I wasn't a glorified installer/maintenance person. Back when computers and networking were newer things in business (especially small to medium size), the client would explain their workflow and we would come up with the best solution we could for what they could afford.

Somewhere along the line (90s?) clients started to think they knew what was best... and just wanted us to do the installation and get it all working for them (typically with lots of M$ cr-ap too). (Not horribly long after they *should* have learned a hard lesson when 'built' machines were popular... which was also a fail.) Then they blamed us when it all didn't work that well. That's around the time I decided to quit consulting and just go work in IS/IT for a while.

Now, fortunately, I'm in a completely different industry so I make the technology implementation rules rules. :) But, I'm still a tech person at heart.

Brandon Edwards says:

Suppose MS does have to except Apples terms, have put the word out over an extended media cycle the Office is coming to iOS and managed to make Apple look like the big bag legacy company? Yes.

SteveW928 says:

They will have to adapt, or eventually get beat by competition that can or has. That's the problem with so many large companies that let the IT departments put them in that situation in order to make it easier for themselves, rather than do it the right way from the start.

ArgonNJ#CB says:

Typical fanboy article. Business uses Office, it's that simple. The Apple solutions are a poor solution to those who require Office. All this attitude will do is push more and more business users toward Android. I guess as long as Apple's iSheep, teen girls and hipsters are happy, I guess Apple will be fine.

SteveW928 says:

Why do businesses use Office? I think that's the point. They don't need to any longer. Businesses also develop 'web based' stuff that will only run in IE6 or use Lotus Notes for office communication. That doesn't mean it is a good idea.

gordol says:

Companies, be they enterprise entities or software developers, design applications to work with IEx because it's a labor-cheap method of getting an HTML capable display engine embedded.

Because when you're developing in Windows, you have IE available on every target machine. If you want to "use something better", then you had better be prepared to either spend the time and effort to code it yourself and include it with the package, or ensure that your target user has it installed and be prepared for the onslaught of tech support calls when the user had neglected to follow the clearly spelled out instructions.

It is, I suppose, easier to develop integrated applications that use something other than Office on the basis that Office is not something that comes with every PC on the planet, but by the same token, as I mentioned in another comment, MS Office IS the standard. It also has a well developed mature ecosystem built around it, and a well developed and mature set of tools to enable using it programmaticaly via simple macros and VB Scripting.

SteveW928 says:

Short term gain... long term pain.

gordol says:

No real argument there. My favorite email application started to go downhill when the developer added a feature because it was a labor-free addition included with the new development package the company bought for him. Never mind the fact that this labor-free addition was broken from the start, merely intended to be a demo or starting point for what could be done.

Dev from tipb says:

Derek is incorrect; there are a ton of businesses that can use nothing but Office, with Excel probably being the hardest to replace. Other commenters have started listing examples, so I will not repeat them here. Derek also discounts the large number of custom and vertical applications built on top of Office, which by definition cannot migrate to another suite. WordPerfect, Open Office, iWork -- they will not cut it for these users, and there are a *LOT* of them.

Derek is correct in saying that the iPad has caused a huge mindshift. Scoble said it first, but what the iPad has done has convinced people who *THINK* they need Office to look at the reasons why they think that. Five years ago, those people would never have questioned it; if you needed work done, it was Office or bust. Today, people at least stop and ask the question. For a large number of people, perhaps even a majority, the answer may still be "yes, I need Office."

As long as that is the case, Microsoft ain't going broke. But Office has fallen from an impregnable position to a strong-but-vulnerable one, and that should scare them.

sam tapsell says:

Of course people will keep using Office where it is working for them. But how does microsoft make money in the future where the people who are happy have already paid up? If microsoft demands users have to learn a new office or OS (windows 8), they might also take a closer look at mac, iOS, linux, android and office compatible products.
Meanwhile, apple has set a low price for office apps on iPad and Mac. Microsoft is already charging a much lower price for 8, at least for upgrades. There is real price pressure on them, and revenues are going to fall down a long tail.
Business is locked into microsoft, but consumers are choosing apple and android products where the option is available.

Brandon Edwards says:

The new strategy with Office 365 is subscription based to allow users to access their Office on 5 devices, not just one machine. There won't won't be much of a push for the 100plus upfront cost. Apple subsidizes most operations with others, the cheap OSx upgrade is rollers into the price of a mac and likewise with iWork.

SteveW928 says:

Well said! Dev from tipb.

cardfan says:

Wish we could recommend posts on here..

Baysic says:

I am shocked this wasn't written by Rene, because it has his "Apple is god" mentality just focused on the software.

Do you want to know why everyone needs and wants Office? It is because everyone knows and likes Office. It is what literally every business is built around. Say you don't like Office and want to use Apple's equivalent at work, when you go to send that out to your client guess what, they are not going to be able to open it OR it will more likely not be 100% compatible. Zero companies will say "choose which you like, and if it looks a little different when it goes to the client, that's okay". It is nonsense to think that people would just jump from the established and (and this is important) fully functional and approachable system that has worked for decades to something that works both worse and differently.

This site can have some ridiculous opinion pieces.

SteveW928 says:

I think I recall people making similar arguments about Wordperfect and Novel once upon a time too. ;) (BTW, I used to be a Novel CNE.)

sam tapsell says:

Oh come on. This is an apple temple. I come here to enjoy the apple church music here!
The basic thrust of this article is true don't you think? Apple has the stronger hand, microsoft will have to give their 30%.

ltrs says:

MS office has over 800 million users worldwide. And accordingly to MS it sells another copy every second of everyday. It's also the number one selling software for 8 years running. I don't think Microsoft is too worried.

SteveW928 says:

Maybe you haven't seen this:

statista.com/topics/847/apple/chart/735/apple-s-astonishing-profit-in-context/

Anthoney Pavelich says:

I have been using DocumentsToGo for years! It has been priceless. It is lacking some functions I would like, but it is even better on my iPad.

gordol says:

I've been using Docs2Go since I got my first copy as a free added-value item with my first PDA, a Palm IIIx. Unfortunately, while it has the BEST feature for Office apps (actual document syncing with the desktop!) it also now has the worst function compatibility of all the ones I've used on my iPad.

GlennRuss says:

My work realized a good majority of employees had Apple products, from iPhones, to iMacs. The IT people decided to make working with office available on the iPad through Citrix, which is a free app. I can work with word, powerpoint, exchange, and so on. On the Macbook Pro, I just sign in with my username, and password in Safari, and again through a Citrix download, I have the same ability. It is not as smooth as a stand alone office program, but it works. I like pages, but when I need to do work for my job, and it is a MS Office environment, you just need office. 30%, or not, Microsoft will always make money. I just wish they would get it together. Remember the days when XP would not talk to Vista, and Vista, what a joke of a program. Same with MS office, and MS works, some docs would not open. But like I said, if your work uses office, your stuck.

gordol says:

Does MS via Citrix (or the consumer equivalent CloudOn) "work" when you have no data connection?

eric6052 says:

It really is a case of what you need. I don't work in use a computer in my business very often and for my needs Google Docs works fine for things like my budget and simple word processing. My wife is an entirely different matter. She uses office every day in her work. I can't use Quick Office Pro on iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard for the light office needs I have. For someone like me Office on iOS is completely unnecessary and I wouldn't pay a subscription for it even if they were to offer it. To each their own.

Brandon Edwards says:

Negotiations continue in DC over the #fiscalcliff. You see and hear a lot of huffing puffing, in the end, a deal gets done.

alexWithPhone says:

Hi Brandon, Twitter is one window to the left ...

Brandon Edwards says:

MS had to decide in the early days of iOS to make one of its strongest products on its strongest competitors platform when they did not have competitive devices. They could have gleaned some profits in this way, but that would have added more Kevlar more to the iPad for the foreseeable future. What would you have done if you were MS. I'm not sure I would release now, not until Surface and Win8 gain footing and momentum, 8-12 months.

cardfan says:

Oh well, i'm a CPA so Office is a must. As it is for most of my clients. Windows is needed for not only Office but every audit, finance, or tax related program I have. Then there's Quickbooks that most small businesses use.

That said, I know I'm in the minority. Most users buy tablets to consume and have fun using. I need Office but not on the ipad. I wouldn't use it anyways considering it'd be limited. I'd use an ipad for other things.

SteveW928 says:

Heh, yea... spreadsheets don't really seem like a tablet type thing. :)
Same for things like 3D design and rendering or CAD.
The desktop certainly isn't going away, but it will probably be in the minority in the not too distant future. That means the desktop (and any apps on it that need to interchange) is going to have to become compatible with the tablet, not the other way around.

Brandon Edwards says:

Another case of feeding your competition: Google aps for Win8 and WP8. "Upstart" vs. "Establishment". Google takes a similar line as a lot of the more popular iPad/iPhone: "we will put resources were the demand is". They don't drive adoptions of the MS platform, therefore they do not make apps. Depending how much resources company has l, they should expand there apps to as many platforms as possible. With Xamarind, a developer can create the same app with C# and port it to iOS, Android, an d WP7/8. A minimal amount polishing is required for each platforms app. More platforms leads to more apps sold. Let the percentages of each fall where they may, just get paid. If I had the skills, I would port apps to the new BlackBerry 10. Can't say I would care for it, but the early adopters will look at low stock of apps initially and like choose mine because of the low volume of apps.

MickeyBlue-Eyes says:

I use and support MS Office everyday and I'd like to through it in the trash everyday!! It's garbage and it's the only thing keeping Microsoft alive.

alexWithPhone says:

Apple is still leaving a big gap open for someone to come up with a laptop-replacing tablet. I love my iPad and iPhone, but mark my words, that day will come. Why:

- Printing from an iOS device sucks, sucks, sucks!!!! I have a Canon printer mit AirPrint, and the only format it will print a picture will be on 4x6 photo paper. The print options you get in Windows are there for a reason, Apple!
- I uploaded a scanned receipt to my FSA plan today. Uploading files from a website? Good luck.
- When I try to attach PDFs or other files, I have to go through a hodgepodge of 3rd party apps and I hope my particular file type is supported. File support is absolutely horrendous on iOS.

This is all no rocket science, but as much geniuses Apple has, there is a big blind spot there. Microsoft had a big opening here, but the Surface and Win 8 leaves to be desired. 3rd party hardware could still be an interesting contender.

Alex

SteveW928 says:

I have to agree with you there... Apple is being totally stupid with the file-system thing. Fortunately, as you said, there are often 3rd-party solutions... but it shouldn't be as hard as it is.

xia0taizi says:

you guys are missing the point. the point is about cultivating and continuously controlling consumer mindset and expectation. As long as MS Office is not available on a popular platform, a growing generation of people are not going to miss it. My generation starts off with Word Perfect, but MS Office is readily available when I begin to have the need to do proper school projects and reports. I’ve been using MS Office ever since.

BUT think about young kids, who've started using their first gadgets and doing their first school project on the iOS. No MS Office. These people are going to use all sorts of other substitutes, and they will be the ones pointing their fingers at us old folks and laugh at our dependencies at MS Office. This is the future generation that MS Office will not be earning moneys from.

gordol says:

Except when the class structure is set to be Office compatible only and those students discover that their alternative apps are causing problems with files.

SteveW928 says:

That's when you find a different class.

gordol says:

No one except an application fanatic is going to change their class simply because the professor wants papers turned in in MS Office formats. No, the student will either pony up for Office (Home And Student, most likely) or use something like OpenOffice and save the files in MS Office formats, depending on what the class is for.

khurtwilliams says:

I don't know of any schools that require documents to be stored in a proprietary format. Time to educate the school officials.

gordol says:

You (and others) keep saying that .doc/.docx, etc, are proprietary formats. Yet every example of an alternative program can open and save those very same formats. That is the de facto definition of a standard.

I know this is an Apple board, but c'mon, take off your Apple blinders and take a look around at what is really going on out there. I'm not a fanboi of either side, I'm agnostic on the differences. My PC is Windows, my tablet is iOS and my phone is (currently) Android. And the only document formats that work across all of them are... MS Office formats. I use .docx, .xlsx (and .pdf) across all three, and I can share those same documents with anyone online and not worry about the target device or correspondent not being able to open them.

SteveW928 says:

I've just never met a prof that would only accept a doc or docx. If I did, I'd probably consider a different school, as that kind of lame-thinking must have an impact elsewhere too.

SteveW928 says:

BTW, I just completed over 6 years of undergrad and graduate studies about a year ago. I never submitted a doc file to anyone. And, my undergrad was on-line. I also didn't use Office (OK, well I had it on my machine in case I ever needed translation, but hardly used it... we had a multi-license version as my wife was required to get it for one of her jobs, so I used one of the licenses.)

khurtwilliams says:

That's not a technology problems. That's the school admin lemmings only seeing the world one way. I'm teaching my kids to use Google Docs, iWorks, and Microsoft Office. They'll be better for the experience.

khurtwilliams says:

Does Office Home & Student 2013 RT (Preview and the final edition) include the same features as Office Home & Student 2013 on my Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC?
Almost – Word 2013 RT, Excel 2013 RT, PowerPoint 2013 RT and OneNote 2013 RT in Office Home & Student 2013 RT include the vast majority of Office Home & Student 2013 features available on PCs, and nearly all the features most customers use. But because tablets have special needs for security and mobility, a few features are unavailable in Office Home & Student 2013 RT, including macros, add-ins, and other custom programs written by users or developed by third parties.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/home-and-student/office-home-student-r...

Telling me all the great things you can do in office on the desktop - macros and other complicated excel computations - is pointless of we are talking about mobile platforms. Office on RT can't do any of them anyway. So no, no one needs office on the iPad.

Geri O says:

Any of you folks ever heard of Documents To Go? I have a boatload of Word and Excel docs that I work with on my iPad on a nearly-daily basis (using Dropbox to share the docs across my MacBook Pro and the two iOS devices. And on Android devices, as well.

emjayess says:

Switched from Windows (good riddance!) and webOS (sigh! :-( ) to a Mac, an iPhone, and iPad one year ago. Thought I would need Word, so a relative installed one of his Office for Mac licenses on mine. Currently, I'm making every Word doc a Pages doc. The whole experience has made me realize/remember why I hate MS and Office! Word is a mass of confusion and just the mention of the word "outlook" makes me cringe. On the other hand, I'm self-employed and don't have to conform to corporate norms...

Ninotschka says:

You seem to spend too much time with your Apple gadgets and not enough in the real world. The vast majority of businesses uses Office, whether they technically "need" to or not, and while Apple products are gaining market share it will take decades before Office is anywhere near being replaced. In the meantime we need Office to do business with others, no matter how much we may prefer to use Apple's solutions or how equally powerful they may be (of which I'm not 100% convinced, given the many 1 star ratings the iWork apps get from Apple users in the app store). One reason for that is the limited compatibility of iWork with Office and vice versa. Regardless whose fault this may be, it's the reality business users continue to face for the foreseeable future.

For the record, I'm using plain text for word processing on my iPhone, iPad and Mac and I'd happily use Pages for RTF instead of aneamic Office replacement apps, such as Quickoffice or Office2, but it just isn't possible.

joaohornburg says:

"... given the many 1 star ratings the iWork apps get from Apple users in the app store"

Just checked iTunes and couldn't find the "many 1 star ratings". The worst of them is Numbers which is 3.5 avg.

gordol says:

As of right now, 12/14/2012 9:45am EST The current version of Numbers has 50 ratings. 22 are five stars, 7 are 1 star. Across all versions, there are 5,420 ratings. 2121 are five star, and 1049 are one star.

Of course, I did not read them to determine how many are legitimate complaints and how many are from people who just didn't bother to read the descriptions on what the software is actually designed to do or not do.

cardfan says:

The best Office solution is to use windows. Use something like logmein for quick edits, viewing, or whatever on the tablet.

I think it fundamentally comes down to how you use tablets. I see them as remote extensions of the PC.

cardfan says:

The best Office solution is to use windows. Use something like logmein for quick edits, viewing, or whatever on the tablet.

I think it fundamentally comes down to how you use tablets. I see them as mobile extensions of the PC.

paleh0rse says:

"That barrier is slowly coming down, one business at a time, with more and more picking up iPads in lieu of PCs."

Derek --
That's 100% bullsh1t. Outside of Apple itself, I don't know of a single experienced and respectable IT Enterprise Manager (or CIO), Federal or Corporate, who WANTS to add Apple products to his/her environment. In fact, following Microsoft's Surface announcement last Summer, many have canceled their iPad orders (or simply altered their purchase plans) in order to scoop up the new Microsoft offerings instead.

The only reason Apple gained ANY traction in enterprise environments over the last five years is because they were the only option, and every member of upper management wanted one of "those sexy tablets." Now that Microsoft has finally stepped up to the mobile plate, there's not a single Enterprise Manager worth his/her salt who will consider polluting their enterprise architecture with Apple devices.

I would never hire an engineer or manager who would support or promote Apple devices in a critical enterprise environment. No chance. Their job interview would end instantly.

joaohornburg says:

I would never want to work for you. No chance.

paleh0rse says:

You're obviously not a network manager, network architect, or aspiring CIO... or you'd know better. iDevices have no business in a proper enterprise environment. None.

gordol says:

Why? They're easy to manage and are no less secure than anything else. And the fact that so many major enterprises have either made them available or are allowing their employees to bring them would tend to disagree with you. AAMOF, here's an article with a list of 100 schools and organizations (companies and government agencies) who have deployed iPads within their systems: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sap/2012/08/31/top-50-ipad-rollouts-by-enter.... Note that some of them are high tech companies (SAP, Cisco) and that most of them are big places who know the value of security. And those are just the places that are providing the iPads. There are many others who are allowing them on a Bring Your Own program, such as Liberty Mutual, to replace corporate Blackberries.

paleh0rse says:

I can attest, with a vast amount of first-hand experience, that the FORCED introduction of iDevices to an otherwise proper enterprise environment, is a total and complete NIGHTMARE in terms of device management and security policy enforcement.

And, the reason I say "forced" is because I can guarantee you two things that are true at each and every large enterprise where they've been "integrated":
1. It was upper management who insisted on being allowed to use them and/or get them loaned to them for free.
2. MANY of the engineers and architects with their CISO or CIO departments objected, but were subsequently over-ruled by said upper management.

Unlike iPads, Windows 8 devices (not RT) integrate perfectly and can be treated like every other Windows laptop in the history of enterprise environments -- in terms of applications, policies, security, patches, etc etc.

Once again, anyone who lobbies for the introduction of iDevices in a proper and large enterprise network environment doesn't have the first clue as to how such environments actually function.

Stay in school kids... Oh, wait, that's where you're learning these bad habits... DOH!

joaohornburg says:

yeah yeah yeah... could you explain WHY you consider them a nightmare? Real world examples, please. No bullshit.

paleh0rse says:

Christ, where do I start?

1. Every security process and policy needs to be re-written.
2. Updates must be thoroughly tested and then pulled (not pushed) by every device.
3. Remote monitoring is near impossible
4. Intranet PKI is a non-starter, and network user authentication is near impossible
5. Domain logins and group policies are non-existent
6. Anti-virus is non-existent
7. Specialized application development is very expensive
8. Incident response and forensics are extremely costly and in some cases impossible. Ever tried to audit iPad logs? Yeah, good f'n luck without LE/CI level forensics tools
9. Example: how would a security operations center detect or prevent jail-breaking? How would they prevent the device from connecting to unsecure networks, or to unsecure personal computers?
10. File and data compatibility.
Etc etc...

Trust me, it's a total f'n nightmare, and it's exceedingly more expensive than simply purchasing the devices.

As I said, anyone who supports it is clearly unfamiliar with REAL enterprise networks.

gordol says:

"1. Every security process and policy needs to be re-written."

Relevant policies may need to be amended, but not rewritten. Same as the admins would have to do on an ongoing basis anyway whenever anything new is added to the network.

"2. Updates must be thoroughly tested and then pulled (not pushed) by every device."

Um, so? Updated must be thoroughly tested anyway if the admins are worth their salt, and really, is a pull instead of a push that big of a deal?

"3. Remote monitoring is near impossible"

Can you remote monitor a Blackberry? Actually, in my last position on the Help Desk of a major enterprise setup, I had better visibility of what the iPhones were doing than the Blackberries. Better control, too, as I had better access to the account setups on the Mobile Iron server than the BES server.

"4. Intranet PKI is a non-starter, and network user authentication is near impossible"

Mobile Iron and Junos work just fine for user authentication.

"5. Domain logins and group policies are non-existent"

Domain logins, sure. But group policies, at least to some degree, are possible via Mobile Iron.

"6. Anti-virus is non-existent"

Last I checked, it's also non-existent on Blackberries. Also, due to the nature of the systems, the attack vector to an iOS device is much, much harder than on a Windows PC.

"7. Specialized application development is very expensive"

Fortunately, most, if not all, of the required applications already exist. There is built-in VPN capabilities and there are enterprise class VPN options available via the App Store. There are remote access and visualization clients available. When using applications such as Mobile Iron, they have their own internal "app stores" with other options that can be used within the MI sandbox.

"9. Example: how would a security operations center detect or prevent jail-breaking? How would they prevent the device from connecting to unsecure networks, or to unsecure personal computers?"

Maybe I don't know enough, but I fail to see how jailbreaking is an enterprise security risk. All that does is allow the user to install applications not authorized by Apple. And the jailbreakers are a small percentage of users. There is a higher percentage here on iMore because most of us are geeks. As for connecting to unsecure networks or devices, exactly the same as for Blackberries or laptops: None, and that is why VPNs, sandboxes and other security software are used.

"10. File and data compatibility."

This entire thread is about alternatives to MS Office on iOS.

paleh0rse says:

"Maybe I don't know enough, but I fail to see how jailbreaking is an enterprise security risk."

It's quite obvious, based on that statement alone, that you really don't know enough. Please come back if/when you ever work on a large enterprise network at a higher level than help desk...

gordol says:

Or you could attempt to educate me on the danger, with references, rather than merely continue to make unsubstantiated statements. I am always willing to learn.

paleh0rse says:

Do I really need to educate you on how/why a jailbroken (or rooted) mobile device is exceptionally unsecure? REALLY?!

You can't be serious, and I really don't have the time. I'm partially responsible for the security and integrity of a network that has more than 400k users who login from every corner of the globe. I'll end with that...

gordol says:

If you want to be taken seriously. I'm not the only one here questioning your statements.

Jailbreaking, by itself, is not a security issue. It does not open any extra network ports or itself render anything else on the device insecure. It is no less secure than your average Windows or Mac desktop. And from what I've seen, no less secure than a Windows or Mac with decent firewall and virus protection software.

As a user, I would even posit that jailbroken devices are more secure, on average, because the users of such devices are more tech savvy and thus more cautious on what they do with and on the devices.

So put your knowledge where your mouth is and show documentation on the inherent insecurity of jailbreaking.

paleh0rse says:

One word: Cydia.

Let me put it this way: on a properly configured PC or laptop, in a properly managed enterprise environment, standard users cannot (and should not be allowed to) install ANY application, plug in, update, or driver that is not pre-approved and thoroughly tested by the OCIO.

Not to mention the insider, corporate espionage, or REAL espionage threats that exist.

And I couldn't care less how seriously I'm taken on this blog ...

gordol says:

Ok. But for your information, you just killed not only iOS and Android devices in the environment, but ALL smartphones including Blackberry and WindowsPhone 8.

joaohornburg says:

That's exactly why I wouldn't work at your company: too much dogmatic non-sense. Anti-virus!? Who needs anti-virus on an iPhone? Remote monitoring!? Is this a company or a prison?

paleh0rse says:

Sorry, son, but that "dogmatic nonsense" is what rules the day in a real-world enterprise where security and network integrity are everything.

And yes, every major corporation and government entity in the world monitors system usage across the entire enterprise. Doing anything less would be ignorant and grossly negligent.

deanmstyles says:

The way I see it is that in an enterprise environment, Office is a necessity. Whether it be purely by its ubiquity, or specialised uses that are designed around Office (macros), or its other features such as Exchange/Outlook.

However, many lower-end users (ie: home users or some small businesses) may have little need for the advanced features of MS Office, and may find alternatives like iWork more than fit the bill. If you're only typing up the occasional letter, then a $30 office suite (or even a free one) may be more than adequate.

It may be one thing for convince your home user that ticking the $200 MS Office option when they buy their new PC is not strictly necessary, but big organisations will continue to use it.

I guess that's why I think MS should focus their mobile efforts quite heavily to enterprise and try and capture some of the old BlackBerry market, rather than trying to focus on the consumer.

kfirpravda says:

As much as I wish it was true, we need office. Not because we use it, but because our clients do, and many of them are not willing to collaborate using Google Docs. Excel is a must have if you want to collaborate with others using this software.