It's Far Too Late for MS Office on iPad

Microsoft has had a version of MS Office ready for the iPad for some time now. What's held it up has been the attempt to entice business users over to the Surface tablets instead.

Many customers, observers and even camps internal to Microsoft have lobbied for the opportunity to earn billions ($2.5B by one estimate) by having MS Office on the iPad. However, that would be caving to the popularity of the iPad and admitting defeat.

A fascinating article at Reuters explores the nuances of this decision, now in the hands of the new Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella. "Microsoft poised to fight back as iPad generation shuns Office."

I think it would have been smart to release MS Office years ago because the foundations of how we use the iPad hadn't been fully defined. In time, however, Apple has had the opportunity to further clarify the essence of the modern tablet and developers, living within those guidelines, have developed corresponding apps that conform to the tablet experience.

Over at Microsoft, the thinking was that by restricting MS Office to Windows, the company could entice tablet customers to buy the Surface instead. That strategy failed because users were more interested in the tablet life and the solutions for complexity and security offered by the iPad than they were by MS Office. PCs still exist, after all, for that kind of work.

As the Reuters authors point out, a host of solutions have been developed and virtual standards, like EverNote, defined for the iPad. We went right and Microsoft went into left field in the post-PC era.

I think Mr. Nadella will decide to release MS Office for the iPad, and it will be heralded as a bold move into mobility. Sales will be brisk, thanks to pent up demand. But in the months after release, customers will slowly realize that life with MS Office on the iPad isn't the kind of life they want to live. Other solutions are less expensive, easier to use, and fit better into the quintessential nature of the iPad. MS Office will prove to be a fish out of water for the majority of users who might dabble with it.

Enthusiasm will fade. Tech articles will then shift to tutoring readers how they can achieve all that they need to without the expense and complexity of MS Office.

Microsoft's delay has been fatal, and there's no Hail Mary play here. MS Office is a product that was tuned to a high level of productivity and complexity on desktop and notebooks, PCs and Mac, but it has no fundamental future on a modern tablet like the iPad.

The sooner Microsoft gets into its own unique brand of mobility solutions, the better things will go.


The week's tech news debris is on page 2 where, for the first time ever, I disagree with Jean-Louis Gassée.

Tech News Debris for the Week of March 10


I have enormous respect for Jean-Louis Gassée. I love everything he's ever written. But I fear that he's fallen into the the current-day trap of agitating for an Apple breakthrough, a smashing new product category, that isn't ready yet. The fact is, these breakthroughs don't arrive on a train schedule, and we can't lobby Apple to create them. I address that myself: "Apple's True Innovation Is Making Tools, Not Toys."

Instead Apple, nowadays, is about the business of solving problems, and that's not a bad thing to be doing for customers. Real breakthroughs, like the original Mac, the iPhone and the iPad, come when they're fully baked. But trying to force the issue for the sake of the stock market is folly. Here's the article by Mr. Gassée. See if you agree. "The Apple Game: New Categories vs. Ecosystem Development."

Apple bypassed Blu-ray for several good reasons including license terms and fees. But another is that, I believe, Apple could see the handwriting on the wall. The future would be delivery of video entertainment via the Internet.

On the other hand, customers remain stubborn. They've proven over and over again that they like to collect plastic, load it into a black box, and let it spin. I know; it's crazy. But so long as that's true, there will be a need for a next generation disc format beyond Blu-ray that supports 4K/2160p. So Sony and Panasonic are teaming up for something called Archival Disc. Here's the announcement. Capacity? 300 GB with future development to 1 TB.

What does your email address say about you? Joe Kissell explains that "... whether you realize it or not, people do judge you by your address!" "FlippedBITS: Misconceptions about Changing Email Addresses." This is a great read.

The future of the Internet will dictate the future of Apple. And so, I was fascinated to read: "What the Internet of 2025 Might Look Like." Especially intriguing: "All 7-plus billion humans on this planet will sooner or later be ‘connected’ to each other ..."

Apple was publicly embarrassed when its maps application first came on the scene. If I read Tim Cook right, that's going to get fixed and fixed good. "How iOS 8 Will Fix Apple Maps." The subtitle is intriguing: "Apple's Maps app was a laughing stock two years ago. But it might have the last laugh after the release of iOS 8."

Perhaps you had surmised that merely collecting metadata about a phone conversation is a harmless activity, but some researchers think otherwise. This is an eye-opener. "MetaPhone: The Sensitivity of Telephone Metadata." Excerpt: "We found that phone metadata is unambiguously sensitive, even in a small population and over a short time window. We were able to infer medical conditions, firearm ownership, and more, using solely phone metadata."

We're almost certain that if Apple launches the rumored iWatch, it will have a sapphire display in order to be scratchproof. But is that the best material for an iPhone with a 5-inch display? Brian Meyer ponders: "Is Sapphire Really the Best Choice for the iPhone 6 Screen?"

Finally, Mark Gurman, in the process of writing about how Apple is working on a pair of new iOS 8/iCloud apps, TextEdit and Preview, also provides some background, gained from sources, on Apple Senior VP of Software Engineering Craig Federighi’s restructuring of Apple’s OS X and iOS development teams. There is really good stuff here: "iOS 8: Apple works to further push iCloud as the future of the file system."


Future Internet via Shutterstock.

Particle Debris is a generally a mix of John Martellaro's observations and opinions about a standout event or article of the week (preamble on page 1) followed by a discussion of articles that didn't make the TMO headlines, the technical news debris. The column is published most every Friday except for holidays.