Editorial

With Office now on iOS and Android, Microsoft has finally looked beyond its ego

Microsoft Office is king of the productivity software market with nearly every competitor so far back in the rear view mirror that they are only a small blip on the consumer radar. Knowing this, one might think that Microsoft has nothing to worry about and should continue down its current path. Of course, that was the old way of thinking, and with Google Docs making a serious run at shaking Microsoft from the ground up (albeit with significant shortcomings), Microsoft is finally stepping off its egotistical totem pole and is finally playing hardball, the only way it knows how.

The Office productivity suite is a crown jewel for Microsoft, and with the Office 365 subscription model now in full effect, it offers a systemic revenue stream that should significantly help out the cash-flow statement. Previously, Microsoft would release major upgrades every few years, but with rapid release now the company’s heartbeat, we should see updates more frequently than in the past.

Microsoft’s Office platform is a fantastic stream of revenue for the company and in 2013, it added about $2.16 billion to the bottom line (comprised of revenue from the core Office product set, Office 365, SharePoint, Exchange, and Lync). With such a large footprint and revenue stream, it becomes clear why Microsoft will do everything it can to power to protect its crown jewel from being dismantled.

Google Docs is easily the biggest threat to Microsoft’s Office platform Over the past few years, there have been some attempts to counter Microsoft’s dominance in this arena with Open Office and iWork trying to undercut Microsoft’s position, but both of those products have had limited, if any, impact on Microsoft’s bottom line. Google Docs is easily the biggest threat to Microsoft’s Office platform and is a more recent addition to the marketplace but Microsoft is no longer sitting on a mountain of ego, and the company is finally reacting responsibly to market changes and not resting on its laurels and assuming the consumer will blindly stick with Microsoft products.

We have seen Microsoft counter the Google Docs threat by offering free web apps that offer limited functionality in the web browser. The most useful implementation is the inclusion of this feature within SkyDrive that allows you to edit your documents, in the cloud, all without leaving the browser.

While Google has made significant strides with Google Docs, and the platform does work well as long as you stay within the Google ecosystem, it is not a perfect solution for the enterprise as exporting items from Google Docs to Office does not always result in the clean export of the formatting. In addition, some are concerned about Google’s advertising antics and that your Google Docs may not be secure from marketers eyeballs.

Microsoft's attempt to leverage Office for Windows Phone has failed. But with Office being such a key product to Microsoft and one that is heavily used in the business and consumer worlds, why isn’t Microsoft leveraging Office to help sell Windows Phone? It’s a valid question and an approach that many thought Microsoft would take. The idea is simple: Keep Office limited to Windows Phone so that if you want a native experience on your mobile device, you have to use a Windows Phone to get that experience and thus, this should help drive sales. But the problem is that’s not working out and Microsoft needs to protect its platform.

Windows Phone is pegged at around 3 percent of the global market, which is an incredibly weak showing for Microsoft who needs to solidify it’s platform as the third contender in the marketplace behind Android and iOS.

So here is the situation that Microsoft is in, with Office being the top of the game and Windows Phone being at the bottom of the market and the Office interoperability not being enough to move consumers to the platform, Microsoft had a choice to make. Does the company continue to offer a value proposition with Windows Phone and ignore the other platforms, or does Microsoft bite the bullet and build out apps for the competing platform.

Microsoft built apps for iOS and Android to protect Office from the competition The answer is simple; Microsoft built apps for iOS and Android to protect Office at the expense of limiting the appeal of Windows Phone. With Windows Phone likely obtaining most of its revenue (which grew by $1.2 billion last year, but this is a mix of phone sales and patent licensing and we would hedge it is heavily skewed towards patent licensing) through licensing, the company needs to focus on protecting its proven revenue streams while building out Windows Phone.

This is important because the market had been demanding Office on Android and iOS for some time; you can see this by looking at the alternatives to Office on these platforms in their respective online stores.  As any economist will tell you, when there is demand, the market will fill the gap. The risk here for Microsoft is that other companies were finding ways to exploit Microsoft’s shortcomings and if these alternative platforms became popular (such as Google Docs) it could unsettle Office from the desktop space too.

So for Microsoft to help protect it’s crown jewel, it had to support competitive platforms and discount Windows Phone’s competitive advantage, a move that signals that Microsoft is putting the consumer ahead of its own products.

Microsoft can’t afford to be knocked off its block in the productivity space, as it’s a cornerstone for the company, much like Windows. So, in order to preserve Office as the king of the productivity suite, it was forced to support iOS and Android.

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Just barely. Much more work is needed by Microsoft, before it can possibly regain the reputation it possessed before the Windows-8 and Office 365 missteps (to use a charitable word).

As far as I am concerned, the biggest disappointment about Microsoft lately is not windows phone, windows 8, Microsoft surface or any as individuals. The let down comes in how they barely talk to each other. A software giant like Microsoft with its many ecosystems and devices should focus on synchronization. I can't easily do anything between my windows phone and my windows computer, and that gets worse when you try to find benefits of having office on windows phone.

The problem with cross-team collaboration(@Microsoft) is that the slackers are easily exposed and gotten rid of. Those slackers(esp managers) are going to move heaven & earth to make sure the collaboration doesn't happen and they keep their useless jobs.

Really no reason to use Windows 8 now. I can tap in from my iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, or iMac seamlessly. Office 2010 on my Windos 7 machine also works great

Except on WP and Windows RT it's bundled with it, those are the only two it's bundled with, and doesn't require a subscription to use it.

neo158 said,
Except on WP and Windows RT it's bundled with it, those are the only two it's bundled with, and doesn't require a subscription to use it.
Good point Neo!

neonspark said,
have they? because they give it away on windows and they bundled it with a subscription in other operating systems.

Office 365 is the future of office, similar to the new Adobe Suite. If you want it bundled for free then buy a Windows RT or WP device... they have to keep some exclusive content

That's a selling point of WP/RT, you get it bundled along with a more fast and fluid version. That'd be silly if it wasn't.

still not on IOS in my opinion, i want a standalone version, not one that makes me subscribe to 365 - i don't want that sh*t

Hey brad, why are you still referencing old data? Q1 instead of q2. And did u know WP is now in the 4%s ,but what's different this time is that iPhone has slipped to 13%. Why do you guys still talk about ios in the way you do,I don't know.

youre correct in that its still under 4, in fact you guys posted data from strategy analytics that shows wp has 3.9% for q2, but my point still stands. the article is referencing q1 data instead,which wp had 2.9%,and as brad said,wp has around 3% worldwide share,which is incorrect,and it should be said wp has around 4% instead.

my other beef is that ios is somehow implied to as equals with android,even though they keep losing massive share quarter after quarter,and they are much close now to windows phone than to android,yet windows phones position is said to be extremely weak,but ios gets a pass and is what windows phone should strive to be? no that isn't good enough either,that is also extremely weak,because if it was something other than ios, that would never be the treatment it received,it would also be called extremely weak.

Edited by vcfan, Aug 6 2013, 3:59pm :

Fact is that it's still under 4% and those figures also factor in devices that have been sold from the manufacturer, not the providers that sell them on plans. 3% is more accurate than 4% in this case.

fair enough, looks like i jumped the gun on this one,as the two data is not comparable, one is shipped,one is sold to end users. i guess we'll have to wait for the q2 comparables to come to that conclusion. sorry brad. i still stand by the ios thing though. i think its getting too much respect than deserved.

Read the title, knew the article itself would be the misinformed BS blathering of a mental defective... This is almost too stupid for words. Well just ignore how cross platform pretty much every Microsoft service is I guess

Office is still somewhat of a selling point for Windows Phone because it's free on Windows Phone (comes pre-installed). I imagine that you have to pay for it to get it on Android and iOS. Pretty clever really because lots of businesses now give their staff Apple devices. So MS stand to make a fair bit from their lack of presence in the smart phone market.

Microsoft already gets money from every Android phone due to the patent agreements. Now they can get more with a subscription model for fully supported cross platform documents.

techbeck said,
To bad all the Android alternatives are still better. And I am not paying for a sub to get this on Android.

I agree on the subscription thing for Android and iOS users but why should Microsoft provide the users of other platforms with their software for free?

neo158 said,

I agree on the subscription thing for Android and iOS users but why should Microsoft provide the users of other platforms with their software for free?

Never said it should be free. Just said I am not paying for a 365 sub to use it.

"Beyond it's ego"? I never do this, but I'll stop reading right there...

Because it isn't beneficial to leverage your own services on your platform or anything... No one else does that... Lol

bdsams said,
Becuase you stopped reading righter 'there', you missed the entire point.

That it took them a while to get Office on Android and iOS? Or that it makes sense to do so under their new SAAS initiative?

If I'm guessing...

But neither of which have anything to do with ego.

Brad, I am generally a big fan of your stories. I'll read something just because I see that you wrote it (The quality is usually very high). I'm sorry to say, but you're better than this biased rhetoric. You're a better writer than that.

So, please don't take it personally, but there was just no need for the nonsense in this story. It was never ego...

Spicoli said,
Uh, the original Office release was only on the Mac, so this is hardly a "finally."

Your point is correct, but Office didn't originate on the Mac.

Word originated on Xenix and DOS in 1983 (this is where the Microsoft Mouse came into existence as well.)

Word came to the Mac around 1985.

However, you are correct that it was Word and Excel on the Mac in the 1980s that was mutually beneficial to both Microsoft and Apple.

Word and Excel are the two main titles that gave the Mac credibility in business environments and gave the Mac a 'productivity' image.

Macs were seen as 'too simple' and were called a 'toy' computer. (Which is a habit you find people do again and again when faced with a new UI concept.) *cough Windows 95, XP, Vista, 8

Office was a moniker and pricing model that was created to compete with other bundled solutions sometime in the early 90s, I don't remember the exact year.

The 'Office' team at Microsoft was focused on the Macintosh with the DOS and Windows 2.x versions taking a back seat. It wasn't until Wordperfect and Lotus declined to create Windows 3.0 versions of their software that pushed up the development timeframe of Word and Excel for Windows 3.0. Microsoft knew from their work with Apple, that Windows 3.0 NEEDED a credible wordprocessor and spreadsheet to succeed.

Lotus - NOT WordPerfect. The issue in Windows were two applications - one was Lotus' flagship (the 1-2-3 spreadsheet program) the other was the Ami (and successor AmiPro) word processor (Ami was acquired by Lotus in 1988 - right at the beginning of the Windows Push). 1-2-3 and AmiPro were at the core of THE original productivity suite for Windows - SmartSuite for Windows; it actually beat Microsoft Office for Windows to market by nearly two years. It was the launch (and success) of both 1-2-3 for Windows and of SmartSuite that set off the klaxons - there was a SUCCESSFUL productivity suite on Windows, and from the competition! Never mind that Excel had NO real spreadsheet following outside of Macs - if you wrote spreadsheets in DOS, more likely than not, you wrote them in 1-2-3; 1-2-3 for Windows could import, and flawlessly, spreadsheets from ANY other version of 1-2-3. (This was a feature Excel would not have with even other versions of Excel until 4.3 - and the Windows version hadn't launched yet.) AmiPro (which was more of a fill-in program than true Windows word-processing competition - at that time, there were NO real Windows word processors; the closest there was was the supremely underpowered Windows Write, which later became WordPad, and survives to this day) actually did have compatibility with Write (which is something Word would not get until Word 6.0 - like Excel, Word for Windows was MIA).

There were quite a few toe-stubs for Microsoft on the way to productivity-suite dominance, as well - two of which directly involved Microsoft Word. WordPerfect -despite releasing back-to-back sales blockbusters (Word Perfect 5.0 and WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS - still the only two back-to-back PC Magazine Editor's Choice word-processing programs from the same company for DOS) was also trying to negotiate a merger with Beehive State neighbor Novell (WordPerfect was based in Orem, while Novell was in Provo - no, conspiracy theorists; neither company had any connection to the Mormons, except as customers) - the nightmares of WordPerfect for Windows and Netware 5 were yet to come. Meanwhile, Lotus would disappear into the black hole that was IBM - Notes has been pretty much all that has remained intact out of the old Lotus. Yes - Microsoft had to overcome its share of toe-stubs and footbullets - however, the competition had more of both, and never really recovered. How much of Microsoft's current dominance in productivity software is simply due to damaging itself least?

MS at one point had Office ported to Linux, they let a 3rd party do it... I'd say they looked past their ego years ago

not even sure what happened to that project?... I know they gave rights to a 3rd party to do it... and that's the last I remember hearing

It wouldn't be Linux anyway since that's just one kernel among many. I do remember a version of IE for X-Windows on Unix that eventually got canceled due to lack of interest.

Lack of interest is what happened to the project.

If Linux ever took hold of the desktop market, Microsoft was ready. Microsoft even had a version of the deprecated Unix subsystem on NT (SUA) that was Linux running in a subsystem on the NT kernel. As VM technologies progressed and HyperV came along, this was scrapped and SUA was later pulled as well.

For the same reason that BlackBerry's BBM software is expanding, among other similar examples; perhaps they are not the 'big fish in the sea' anymore, at least in the mobile market (for now, who knows what the future may bring?) Not only is it also a way for them to make more revenue, but its possible that others may migrate over to WP8 and beyond after using this software (I'm sure Microsoft says Office works best on Microsoft/WP devices)

They can say it, but it's a pretty close thing. On WP8, there's a ton of things that don't work :\

Rather irksome. I'd say the Android version is a bit more feature complete, but WP8 is doing better than Apple.

"Things that don't work" or not, the WP8 version of Office still retains the advantage of not requiring a subscription to use it!!!

Forced to support... with a subscription plan. With their new Office purchase plan, I'm sure they'd port it to a Linux Toaster if people will pay.

Silly rabbit, Linux users don't pay for software!

(disclaimer: I'm an avid Linux user simply poking a bit of fun at myself/ourselves, no trollin')

From an enterprise standpoint, you pay through the nose annually for Red Hat licenses/support and they are definitely NOT cheap.

threetonesun said,
Forced to support... with a subscription plan. With their new Office purchase plan, I'm sure they'd port it to a Linux Toaster if people will pay.

True, but they don't have to do this.

A lot of Linux users run Wine or a VM with a licensed copy of Windows and still pay for a copy of MS Office.

In the Linux world if users need Office, they can run it, and if they don't, Google Docs is not the best alternative, so they aren't helping Google either.

Brad is correct that Android and iOS are the first 'real' OS competitors to Windows itself, let alone just the mobile markets they currently control.

It's not a question of ego so much as porting an enormous set of applications to a completely new set of libraries. Windows RT still leveraged Windows APIs, thus the porting was much simpler.

Even if that weren't the case, when did the idea that Microsoft should have to service everyone else's platforms, but everyone else can ignore Microsoft's become a thing?

It was always a matter of time. There's been rumblings that MS was working on Android and iOS version for a couple of years. It takes time to port that much content over, even for a company like MS.

Microsoft aren't protecting Office from competing in this space, they've just started to compete. What they are really doing with this change is making Office 365 a commodity item. They gain more benefit out of moving people to a rolling license than by selling basic versions of office. Office 365 just got much easier to sell with a new machine..

Edited by bdsams, Aug 6 2013, 1:19pm :


iOS was launched in 2007 and Android in 2007 as well, they had plenty of time to port the platform but waited 6 years after the launch to do so.

Edit: Post were edited (above and mine) to remove a single line as requested by the author.

Edited by bdsams, Aug 6 2013, 4:19pm :

Indeed. As a journalist, you choose to publish. If you choose to publish, you choose to deal with the feedback of your readers. You can't play that card, or you can try, but you'll end up eating it. "I can say whatever I like and not get called on it" is an entitlement you do not have.

Microsoft chose to wait 4 years to support them. 2 years to get it to market. On top of this, they started work on those platforms right after the point release of Windows Phone 7 with office.. Right after they serviced their own platform.

It's not all about Microsoft being evil, sometimes it's just boring and banal. It takes time to make things, they took the time.

Edited by bdsams, Aug 6 2013, 1:13pm :

You do realize that we are saying the nearly the same thing:

"What they are really doing with this change is making Office 365 a commodity item. They gain more benefit out of moving people to a rolling license than by selling basic versions of office. Office 365 just got much easier to sell with a new machine.."

My point being that Office, as a selling point, was not strong enough to move consumers over to Windows Phone and based upon external pressure to Office from Google docs, they build out iOS/Android apps to keep their edge in the marketspace (keep office a commodity on all platforms).

No, you and I are saying completely different things (or at least appear to be). It comes from the same point, but you chose to assert that Microsoft has held out for the simple reason that they felt egotistically bound to keeping Office just on their platform (I wonder when Microsoft will get around to releasing Office for Mac). I'm saying that it's just the simple progression of work hours.

You put the crux of your position in your title. My objection here isn't your recounting of events (which is dead on), just your interpretation of them.

On which note, I am going to leave this one here. I don't think you need heckling on the front page and that really wasn't my intent (despite my first post being pretty much dead to rights heckling).

articuno1au said,

For what it's worth, I won't be eating you.

Wow, that cabbage analogy sure got out of hand
I admit that the title and the first paragraphs might have a poor choice of words, but it gets better, in fact, the article says (almost) the same as you do.

bdsams said

iOS was launched in 2007 and Android in 2007 as well, they had plenty of time to port the platform but waited 6 years after the launch to do so.


I like reading your work even when I don't agree with it. I don't have to love something to learn about it or like a viewpoint on a topic to explore it.

If you are going to use hyperbole to prove a point, it doesn't help.
iOS App Store - 2008
Android (Google Play) - Oct 2008

Microsoft built apps for iOS and Android to protect Office from the competition

This is absolutely true, but has nothing to do with WP. Your interpretation of the timeline of why this happened when it did is missing a lot.

You need to factor in things like, the necessity of the online subscription model for Office, Apple opening up their fees to allow a subscription model product to exist without using Apple's ecommerce, the maturity of the API sets for Android and even iOS, etc.

Microsoft Office has always targeted successful platforms, and this is where you are correct that Microsoft is keeping Office relevant by not avoiding iOS or Android.

Microsoft's attempt to leverage Office for Windows Phone has failed.

There is also no relation or change with regard to leveraging WP and Office, as Office is still free on WP, yet is only available by subscription on iOS and Android. WP still retains the same advantage.

Edited by bdsams, Aug 6 2013, 1:38pm :

articuno1au said,

Even if that weren't the case, when did the idea that Microsoft should have to service everyone else's platforms, but everyone else can ignore Microsoft's become a thing?

Microsoft is not a private company.

If there's money to make then Microsoft should do it. And there's definately money to be made from Office 365 sub on Android and iOS.w

norseman said,
Do you really feel Google Docs has anything on Microsoft Office bdsams? It's terrible at best.

I don't think that was his point at all.

iOS + Android own much of the mobile market. It doesn't matter if Google Docs is the worst thing ever made if there's no Office that's what people gonna use. People tend to like what they grow up with even if it's bad. And for home use despite what people might say Office alternatives are more than enough.

Microsoft needs to have a strong presence in the mobile market. Because the kids using those mobile devices today are the kids who gonna buy products tomorrow.

norseman said,
Do you really feel Google Docs has anything on Microsoft Office bdsams? It's terrible at best.

So what should they do, wait until Google docs becomes great and then combat it? My point is that it is the largest threat at the moment and they have to get out ahead of the curve instead of falling behind, like usual for MS.

They have been going above and beyond with their latest Office offerings for the past year or so. Most of your articles are spot on. This one wasn't necessary. It is just stating the obvious. If anything it should be titled, "Microsoft Office, spanking the competition".

articuno1au said,
It's not a question of ego so much as porting an enormous set of applications to a completely new set of libraries. Windows RT still leveraged Windows APIs, thus the porting was much simpler.

Even if that weren't the case, when did the idea that Microsoft should have to service everyone else's platforms, but everyone else can ignore Microsoft's become a thing?

It was always a matter of time. There's been rumblings that MS was working on Android and iOS version for a couple of years. It takes time to port that much content over, even for a company like MS.

Microsoft aren't protecting Office from competing in this space, they've just started to compete. What they are really doing with this change is making Office 365 a commodity item. They gain more benefit out of moving people to a rolling license than by selling basic versions of office. Office 365 just got much easier to sell with a new machine..

The assertion made in the article is spot on. Microsoft has historically maintained a tight grip between their products to ensure cross market domination. Meaning they made it very difficult for a business to seriously consider leaving Windows because there is no viable alternative to MS business applications on those platforms.

You're making the assertion that Microsoft started this with Windows Phone 7, but that isn't the case. Microsoft used this tactic in Windows Mobile for years. It was the major competitive pull against Palm in the early days by bundling Office in Windows Mobile.

The same is true in other parts of Microsoft's business too. You can't run MS Sql Server on Linux nor can you official run ASP.NET on Linux (there is a project by Novell to enable this, but this isn't officially supported by MS) even though Linux makes up something like 95%+ of the server market and has for well over the last 2 decades.

Office on Windows Phone and the Surface was a strong pull to keep consumers on their platform. Microsoft is only letting up slightly in hopes that they can get away with reintroducing bundling while keeping the anti-trust authorities from dragging them back into court.

Their argument being "we're not bundling and locking people into Windows... They can always get the subscription (or some other slightly different version) on X platform" it is a great idea. We shall see if it works. Either way, the author is correct, Office isn't saving Windows in the mobile space.