Microsoft may release a touch version of Office for Android later this year, reports ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley.
Office for Android could be available before the end of 2014 with a similar touch-friendly version Office for Windows 8 not available until 2015, Foley reports.
On the surface (excuse the pun) that seems shocking. But a closer look at what Microsoft is doing shows something else going on.
Yes, there’s a new Microsoft, under its new CEO Satya Nadella where Microsoft will treat non-Microsoft platforms with respect.
Nadella wants Microsoft software to “power experiences across devices,” as Nadella tweeted last week. “We will not be bound to one app, on one device, in one place.”
That means if it makes more sense to release Microsoft software for another platform before Windows, that’s what the company will do.
And in this case, it does.
Microsoft has to bring Office to the tablets that enterprises and consumers are actually using today, or risk these customers finding alternatives and never coming back.
That risk doesn’t exist for Windows 8 tablet users. They can use Microsoft Office though Windows 8’s desktop mode, even though that’s not the best touch experience and is better used with a mouse and keyboard.
Also remember that Microsoft is selling Office for iPad as a cloud subscription service that requires a monthly or annual fee. We would expect Microsoft to sell Office for Android the same way.
That means you buy the cloud subscription for $US10/month (or about $US100/year) and run it on whatever device you want: a Windows PC, an iPad or whatever else. It makes no difference to Microsoft’s bottom line and it allows the company to try and convince customers to upgrade to Windows tablets at a later a time.
Meanwhile, Microsoft could be saving the touch-friendly version of Office to help it inspire people to upgrade to Windows 9 when it’s released.
Windows 9 could be the OS that gets people excited about Windows again, similar to how Windows 7 trumped Vista.
And Windows 9 is on track for a fall 2015 date, Foley’s sources say.