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Apple has reportedly teamed up with Microsoft’s archrival, VMware, to create an Internet-based alternative to Microsoft Office for use on the iPad.The new iPad app will be based on the VMware View virtual-desktop software and a cloud-based version of Apple’s iWork suite that runs on Apple infrastructure, reports Kevin McLaughlin at CRN. The package is particularly geared toward enterprises.
The goal is to allow corporate iPad users to avoid Microsoft Office altogether.
Microsoft has dragged its feet on releasing a version of its flagship Office productivity suite for the iPad. Earlier this month word leaked that Microsoft had Office for iPad in the works, and would release it within a few months, after it released the new version of Office for its own brand-new operating system, Windows 8.
If an Apple-VMware option does materialise, it will be interesting for enterprises. Many of them would love to have a reason to negotiate better prices from Microsoft. But they wouldn’t necessarily want to ditch Office. Microsoft has an enormous ecosystem of third-party software that integrates with Office, and many enterprises have invested in custom apps built on top of Office, like customised spreadsheets and other reports.
There’s also the question of VMware’s track record on mobile products. The collaboration between Apple and VMware is supposed to work with Horizon Mobile for iOS, which is part of the Horizon Suite VMware demonstrated at its recent VMworld conference. Horizon will let employees use one mobile device with two setups—a setup for personal use and one with secure access to business apps.
But VMware has been promising software that does this function for a few years, reports Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica. In 2010 it made a big announcement, with a planned release date of 2011—and it never happened. The Horizon project was in the early alpha stage when VMware demonstrated it in August. A beta version has been promised for Q4 2012.
So a VMware- and Apple-backed Office killer could take a while to get here.
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