Friday, March 28, 2014

Office finally comes to other platforms - and is probably a hit

When I bought a WP device more than two years ago (the Lumia 800), my primary use apart from other smartphone capability was the Office integration. Of course my like for the live tile interface, and a year of bad experience of using an Android device also came in support of a WP device. At that time I never considered an iOS device, primarily for two reasons : it was way to expensive for me that time, and I really (really) wanted Nokia to survive. (I think apart from Apple and Nokia, only HTC makes some solid devices which are widely available, and my first phone was also a Nokia).

Things have changed a lot since. WP by far has taken number 3 in the over all mobile OS share, overtaking Blackberry. Nokia hardware division goes to Microsoft by the end of next month. iOS is still super good in terms of apps, and even if Android has overwhelming share in the OS market, no one has yet come out with that fabled 'iPhone killer'. And I think that's not going to change, for a long time to come. Essentially, for me the mobile (or to put is specifically, smartphone) game is kind of done: iPhone / iOS is the overall winner, and Android is simply too high in adoption rates to be overtaken by any other player for foreseeable future. The only thing that can change all of these, is a new product category. And no one has yet shown what it is, or to put it the other way, no one has yet met with any success.

Microsoft knows this, and to this very realization of reality, the company released Office for multiple platforms, including the iPad, which competes with Surface. It is strange to see MSFT release a product on a competitor device, when until recently the mere availability of Office was touted as the reason to choose a Surface over an iPad. But people do not want Surface, they want iPad, and they want Office. And MSFT read it clearly, and delivered. It will be a hit, even if some may say it is late. People do not realize that how hard it is to write a piece of software that was initially designed for desktop paradigm. Even the Office available on Surface is just the desktop version, and not as touch optimized as the iPad version.

Recently, for a number of reasons (including app quality and easy availably of superior Google and Microsoft services) I made a switch to iPhone. Ever since, I have been eagerly waiting an Office suite from MSFT.  Although Apple offers its own full suits Pages, Numbers and Keynote, its is not Office. So when Office Mobile was made free on iPhone, I was pretty much excited. I must say I am not quite disappointed. But at the same time I will still keep the Pages, Numbers and Keynote; currently on the iPhone they are much more feature rich than what Office Mobile has to provide. And there is no way I am subscribing to Office 365 until MSFT drastically reduces the prices, more so because I have no inclination to pay for a software subscription that I very rarely use, something like say once in a month.

Office is consumer facing as well as heavily entrenched in businesses around the world. The 'new office' is being run on cloud using the Azure services. Office backend, is probably the largest, and most complex Azure app. MSFT, has made a well calculated move with the wider introduction of Office apps, so that its subscription service can boom.  I just want them to lower that subscription cost for infrequent users like me, or better still introduce 'pay-as-you-use' model.