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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 is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.

172 Comments
  • 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.
  • What do you do that absolutely requires Office?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • -- 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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Yeah, you and two,others.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • Pretty sure that's Exchange managing all that, not a client application like Outlook. Why so angry?
  • Name an alternative to Outlook that can provide the clientside access to all of that, then. Why so hateful?
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Try doing the same in Windows....you can't. That is the beauty do iWorks suite.
  • Huh? In Windows, there is no need to convert anything to/from Office formats because the applications I have ARE Office.
  • "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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • "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?
  • 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?
  • This is public information and just part of the soap. Google knows.
  • You are privy to the negotiations going on between Apple and Microsoft here? I highly doubt that.
  • 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.
  • BEST. COMMENT. EVER.
  • No. I just learned how to read instead of flashing my tits.
  • No need for that. Apple has never released publicly any reasons for an app rejection. So you have absolutely no way of knowing anything.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • Open office I find is more user friendly than MS office anyway.
  • In enterprise, nobody cares about "user friendly" if the necessary features aren't present. They need things that work, not things that are flashy.
  • 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.
  • None of those things are possible on Office for RT.
  • Do you even own an RT device?
  • Have you even used a Surface RT device? I don't own one but I have use one.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • And they've also been proprietary for a long time. By standard, I think we mean something that is interoperable.
  • In case you didn't know, the '07 and '10 versions use zip archives of xml files now, not proprietary binaries.
  • All those things are possible on RT. The only thing RT can't do is run VBA code.
  • 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.
  • That's a limitation of Microsoft's ActiveSync not iOS. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa998357.aspx
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • No, I mean glari