I hear Ballmer and the senior leaders of the company may have had a change of heart towards the end of last year. According to one of my contacts, Ballmer OK'd the suggestion by the Office team that they'd bring Office for iPad to market as soon as it was ready, even though that would likely mean before the Windows 8 version. I'm hearing that new date for Office for iPad is some time in the first half of calendar 2014.
The handwringing in Redmond:
A follow-up question from the moderator brought even more from Reller (ed: Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief of marketing), who talked about the importance of differentiating Windows to customers, both end users and OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), the vendors that make and sell devices. “A part of that [differentiation] is Office, for sure,” Reller said.
That implied Office would still be used as a carrot for customers to stick with Windows, not desert the OS for rivals, a hint she quickly made even clearer. “With Windows, we're obviously spending a lot of time thinking about how we continue to differentiate the full Windows experience, particularly as we think about our partners and how we differentiate for them to pick Windows over Android.”
It can be both painful and amusing watching Microsoft navigate the challenge of being a device and services company. Because they have Windows and OEM's holding one arm behind their back they find themselves worried about “partners” when they should be optimizing services (and especially Office) for “consumers”…regardless of platform (and especially iOS).