So Very Uncool

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A Windows guy reviews Office for the iPad

Paul Thurrott reviews Microsoft Office for iPad – Paul Thurrott, who has long run, posted his review of Office for the iPad and it’s a great review … unless you count all the digs he tries to throw at Apple.

” … the only thing holding it back, really, is Apple’s antiquated mobile OS.”

“The device itself is beautiful, thin and light, and iOS 7, while an improvement over previous versions, still lacks basic productivity features like the ability to run at least two apps side-by-side. So it’s important to understand that the biggest limitation of Office on this platform isn’t Office, it’s the iPad. You can only do—or at least see—one thing at a time.”

“This smaller UI is more appropriate for the relatively small iPad screen.”

“This fairly pedestrian UI means that the sort of user interface innovation we see in apps like OneNote for Windows 8 is nowhere to be see in Office for iPad.”

I understand that Thurrott’s audience is comprised of diehard Microsoft fans. Instead of bitterness, they should be happy about this product. It marked the day that Microsoft stopped trying to protect the PC and started living in the world of software as a service. It’s finally waking up to the threat of Google who is platform agnostic. The iOS versions of Google’s products are top notch. Taking a page from Google’s playbook, Microsoft has taken its first step to not being an “also-ran” on mobile along with making Windows free on devices 9″ and smaller. The era of Windows is dwindling. Mobile is the future. Android is free. iOS carries no charge to the consumer. Windows has been commoditized. I see a lot of businessmen with iPads. Haven’t seen a single one with a Surface. If you are a Microsoft devotee, Office for the iPad is a great thing because it heralds Microsoft is finally waking up to the threats it’s been facing for the last decade.

This next comment is where Thurrott goes from merely being catty to being strangely obtuse.

“When you open a document from OneDrive or OneDrive or Business, it downloads from the cloud but isn’t saved to the device by default, no doubt a nod to the iPad’s relatively small storage capacity.”

I’m not sure what Thurrott is referring to. My iPad has 128 GB. Let’s overlook that the Windows guy isn’t insightful about iPads. The strangeness of his remark is that he is either ignorant of or purposely ignoring that Microsoft wants your data just like Google and Apple do. Apple wants me to save my documents to iCloud and Google wants me to save it to Google Drive. To get the ability to create and store documents, you have to have a 365 subscription which gets you OneDrive automatically. Software as a service is a lot less useful if you can’t get to your documents from any platform. Thurrott is thinking at the platform level. That’s no longer relevant. The app –not the OS– is king. Office is no different now than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like. If I were to switch from iOS to Android, in one afternoon I could replicate 90%+ all the apps I have from iOS on to Android. Why is that important? The platform is irrelevant. Consumers can get to their apps via the web, phone, or tablet. Office was the outlier in this regard and competitors were eventually going to encroach. How strange is it that Apple of all companies had iWork on the web before Microsoft had Office on the iPad? Do you want to know why Office for iPad saves to OneDrive by default, Paul? Kids with Chromebooks accessing Google Docs and storing it on Google Drive has Microsoft sweating bullets … not some inane notion that an iPad’s storage is “too small” to hold what’s usually only a few kilobytes in size. The notion that kids growing up get used to a world where applications are ubiquitous and have no loyalty to a platform is horrifying thought to Microsoft whose entire fortune was built on the back of an operating system that is showing its age and becoming increasingly vulnerable to competitors. In short, they finally realized that irrelevance lies at the end of this path and are trying to course correct and minimize the gains company like Apple and Google have already effortlessly made because they had no legacy platform to protect.

As he closes his review he has a paragraph entitled “Why Bother?”

“Once you get past the weirdness of Office even being on the iPad, it sort of settles in. Yes, it’s here. Yes, it works as expected. But … why bother? Why even release such a product?”

Simply put: Because they had no choice anymore. You go where the users are. 12 million downloads in nine days. At best, that’s ~$1 billion dollars in revenue that Microsoft got IN NINE DAYSBy mid-2013, Microsoft had sold less than 2 million Surface tablets that had Office available for them. Customers overwhelmingly don’t want the tablet Microsoft has been selling. Microsoft has seen the light. Finally.