What’s the latest iPad rumor? Well there are a ton of them going around nowadays, what with a rumored event happening March 7th and all that, but one of the hot tickets is that Microsoft Office is coming to the iPad. Don’t believe it? Well there’s a picture, a story on The Daily and a journalist who’s fighting pretty hard to prove that he’s right. And, as they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
But what does this mean for the iPad? Do we really need Office or is it just a crutch for people who think they need it? Talk it out after the jump.
Office Is Everywhere
I bought my first Mac in late 2006, right when the Intel Core 2 Duo chipset became available. I was scared about this transition, as are many new Mac users, because we all had this cozy relationship with Windows and everything it entailed.That’s why I made sure to buy a copy of Microsoft Office with my MacBook. I figured that it was my transitionary tool between the two computers, and it would help to ease me into the world of Apple — and it did just that, for a little bit, anyways.
Today, I don’t use Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook. I have copies of them, but only because I was given a copy of Office 2011 for a review I did a while back, not because I plunked down the cash. Even though the .doc format is so universal, there’s really no reason for me to have it. Instead, I can use Pages, Scrivener, Writeroom or Byword, all of which can access Word documents, plus they’re stable on my Mac. It’s perfect.
What Makes the iPad Different?
The iPad is not a laptop, no matter how hard people try to squeeze it into that category. Sure, we use it for everything from making music to writing love letters, but for most, the iPad will not replace your primary computer, even though many would like it to.
But the iPad is making tremendous strides into the business world, a place dominated by beige boxes and Microsoft-certified software. Office is HUGE in the corporate market, and even though Pages and Numbers will open up Office documents just fine, not every IT manager likes that approach. They know Office, they like Office, they want Office. Put it on the iPad, and they’ll buy it in bulk.
Office was my crutch when I bought my MacBook. It was like finding an old friend in a new city, and even though their hairstyle changed and they had a new mole that they didn’t want to talk about, they were still there to assist me in my travels. That could be a motivating factor in getting Office on the iPad for both Microsoft and Apple.
Think about it this way: You’re an older woman who wants to buy an iPad, but isn’t sure you’re going to have all of the same tools at your disposal that you would with a new Windows-equipped laptop. But if Office was available, you could have it all right there on your iPad. Apple sells more iPads because it opens the doors for more consumers who were previously on the fence, and Microsoft sells apps like hotcakes, taking home 70% of the price. It’s win-win.
Is It Necessary, Though?
No, of course not. No one needs Office on their iPad, even if they think they do. Although you can pour through spreadsheets and create complex documents on the iPad, it’s really a task more suited to a full-blown computer, not a tablet. And if you just need to access the documents, then there’s really no motivation there because Apple has all the apps to make sure it’s covered.
I think that Patrick Rhone from Minimal Mac put it pretty well, referring to a conversation he had with his wife:
You see, she said, missing all of the opportunities was just the start of a much deeper problem. Microsoft for many years had convinced the world that, in order to get “real work” done, you needed Office.
In fact, my many years of Mac Consulting was proof of this. To my clients, Microsoft Office was a “must have” no matter how much I tried to convince them otherwise. And I tried very hard for a while before even I just finally gave up. If a client told me they had to have it I just nodded along and told them what to get and where. They were as sure as the sun rises that, without Office, they would not be able to work, open attachments, write letters, anything. They had to have it.
Then, she explained, the iPhone came. There was no Office. People got things done. Then the iPad came. There was no Office. People got things done. Android came. People got things done. All of those things that they, just a couple of years ago, were convinced they needed Office to do. They got them done without it. And thus, the truth was revealed.
He’s right. We don’t need Office anymore to get stuff done, but many think they do. The sooner Microsoft can get the Office onto every device imaginable, the longer they’ll be able to perpetuate the thinking that people need their tools. If they don’t, they’re dead.
Will They or Won’t They?
Like a bad rom-com, this is another one of those big questions. Will Microsoft create Office for the iPad? Have they already? Will Ross and Rachel get married?
Honestly, I couldn’t care less. Although it might help some people to have Office on the iPad, it doesn’t suit me and what I use my iPad for. My father, a Microsoft Certified Developer, would have been excited, but I’ve since converted him to Numbers on the iPad and it works just fine. My mother would’ve loved it before she got her iPad, but again, it’s all iWork for her all the time. No reason for Microsoft to get into her workflow ever.
That said, if Microsoft is smart, they’ll do it. Then again, this is also the company whose CEO laughed at the iPhone.