Microsoft must avoid a mobile Office for Mac

Jonathan Stewart
28 May, 2014
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When Apple updated its iWork suite in January, it was seen as a downgrade by many, features previously available had disappeared, replaced by promises from Apple to slowly reintroduce them. iWork ’13 wasn’t completely backwards compatible with iWork ’09 files and members of the masses threw their hands in the air in frustration.

But the move came with one plus that many Apple users seem to be getting a little too used to, the iWork ’13 suite is free. Apple’s decision to make OS X Mavericks, the iWork productivity suite and the iLife creativity suite free was in an attempt to capture new users and boost collaboration between iOS and OS X via iCloud. It may or may not have worked, it is still early.

Microsoft’s OS X offering, Office for Mac ’11 is getting old and it needs a new look. If it is true that Apple is revamping OS X at WWDC with an iOS 7-like design, the boring, grey look that adorns the ’11 suite will need a paintjob.

Reports have hinted at whispers of a 2014 release and the recent arrival of Word for iPad, PowerPoint for iPad and Excel for iPad have brought it back into the conversation but sadly, no official line is spruiking its arrival.

The iOS apps have been very well-received but are limited in nature, an understandable situation when dealing with a tablet application versus a desktop application. The knocks have targeted the limited range of fonts in Word for iPad, the inability to edit or add animations in PowerPoint and lack of third-party storage drive support across the board.

Microsoft would have eagerly anticipated the iPad suite’s reception and it wouldn’t have been disappointed. The apps went straight to the top, polling first, second and third on the App Store, downloaded over 27 million times in the first six weeks.

The growing number of businesspeople choosing iOS makes it a great option for Microsoft to build around. The Office 365 $119 yearly subscription allows up to five Macs or PCs and five tablets to be used, a reasonable deal if you don’t already have Office on your Mac. If you do, you will be paying $119 for three iPad apps.

But should Microsoft launch Office for Mac ’14, the deal will be much sweeter for Mac users and the number of enterprise users who have taken up the iPad suite. If the subscription model is to work, Microsoft must feature the full desktop applications in Office 365, not the Pages, Keynote and Numbers that Apple released in the update this year.

Despite the free Apple option, business users, who have used Microsoft Office ’11 in the past, will flock to a fully featured desktop suite with quality apps for their tablets.

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