Microsoft Office killer: Apple and VMware team to build cloud-hosted office suite for iPad, sources say

“As Microsoft readies its version of Office for iPads and iPhones, Apple and VMware are teaming to build an iPad cloud-hosted office suite that will let organizations ditch Office entirely,” Kevin McLaughlin reports for CRN.

“According to sources with knowledge of the project, the iPad app combines VMware View virtual-desktop software with cloud-hosted versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers — known as the iWork suite — running on Apple infrastructure,” McLaughlin reports. “VMware’s Horizon Application Manager, a management tool that has been likened to an enterprise app store, is also included, sources told CRN.”

McLaughlin reports, “The infrastructure that Apple is building for iWork is a separate offering from iCloud, Apple’s consumer-focused storage service. Sources did not have any information on when the cloud-hosted iWork suite will be released or what it will cost. The iWork suite has been primarily aimed at consumers since Apple launched it in 2005. But with Microsoft reportedly planning to launch an iOS version of Office next March, Apple is recasting iWork for businesses in order to challenge Microsoft’s Office cash cow, sources told CRN.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Bring it on!

29 Comments

  1. Now THIS is interesting news. Can’t wait to see this.

    Hopefully this will also mean that iWork will be getting a much needed update (especially Numbers).

    1. If they can successfully do this they can REALLY cut off Microsoft’s oxygen supply cuz what have they got left but a craptastic OS? Writing seems to be on the wall for Redmond, WA to have at some point a lot of available buildings for lease.

    2. Here is the way apple does software and why they will not be able to compete with Office:

      1) Assemble a team
      2) build and ship the software
      3) disband the team
      4) wait 2 years and assemble a new team
      5) New team cannot figure out how the old software works
      6) Pitch to management the necessity of a rewrite
      7) rewrite. fix some problems, create a lot of new ones
      8) disband the team
      9) wait 2 years…..

  2. I wish iWork still worked on pre-Lion Macs! I’m unwilling to upgrade the OS as my older apps still rely on Rosetta, which was dumped in Lion.

    Thanks to Drop-Box for filling the gap!

    1. I am not really sure what you mean here… I am still using iWork on my eMac (Work Computer) with OSX 10.4.x. It is 100% compatible with my iPad 1 and iPad 3 as well as my iPhone, etc. I rely on OTIXO to keep my computer connected to Box.net, DropBox, SugarSync, CX, and a host of other Cloud-based drives… If Numbers and Pages are no longer compatible with an upgrade, there will be other ways. Excel Format for simple documents as well as Neo Office is necessary.

      1. The issue here is that while the software works fine on both OSs iWork no long synchronizes with all your devices as it used to. We (those of us who will not upgrade to Lion soon) are now forced to use another service for cloud computing.

        PS, I try to avoid MS Office products as they are resource hogs and find the  alternatives to be great!

  3. In order for this to work, iWorks will need to be virtually 100% compatible with MS Office. So far, iWorks is basically a hobby for Apple. It works for those that are isolated and do not collaborate with workers that use Office. My suggestion is for Apple to either buy NeoOffice and/or put Apple resources together to build out the GUI for Open Office so it is Mac-like. Additional resources would need to be used to complete the missing components in OO that make it less than 100% compatible. But, it would probably be the best opportunity.

    1. It really depends on what type of documents you are collaborating with MS Office users with. I try to use the iWork apps as much as I can, and Pages and Keynote work wonderfully (and I *ALWAYS* user Keynote – I will never use PowerPoint as it is simply a terrible application).

      The one glaring issue in the iWork suite is Numbers. It is truly only for novices. It simply does not have the features needed to be taken seriously.

      Excel is the sole reason I have Office for Mac 2011 installed on my iMac. Thankfully I get it for $10 through a corporate purchase discount program.

    2. … compatible”? Do you mean all its functions are compatible with Office? If so, Pages and Numbers are pretty close to there already – and you don’t want to drag Keynote back. Do you mean that all Office functions are compatible with iWorks? That would require iWorks be as resource-intensive as Office – not something I look forward to.
      iWork offers the vast majority of the most-used functions of Office while reducing its resource use. Some folk do actually require Office for one function or another. These are generally “power users”. Used to be one. Still, never found a need for a function found in Office but not found in iWork.

  4. Funny thing is, there is no reason at all that Apple couldn’t pull this off. MS Office is just too cumbersome, too legacy dependant and hopelessly over featured to become a cross-platform solution. Too much cruft for MS to easily trim it and they don’t get the mobile ‘touch’ thing at all.
    Tho’ I’m not sure either that Apple is that interested in cross-platform stuff ‘cept iTunes. Whether they could bring themselves to do something Office_like cross-platform that included Android?

    1. If they really are going to leverage VMWare View for this, then they wouldn’t have to really develop cross-platform. Using VMWare’s VDI, you would now be able to run iWork on Windows and other platforms in the cloud via virtualization.

    2. The biggest reason Apple can’t pull this off is full, 100% compatibility with Word and Excel. There can’t be this “mostly” compatibility – nothing will ever displace Word and Excel in that regard. I still have problems opening Word docs with auto numbered paragraphs in Pages, which can’t correctly maintain formatting and numbering.

      The other issue is Apple has its ideas on the UI and what works better/easier, and that may not always allow for the same functionality or usability as Office apps. Or it may just be retraining users to think the Apple way vs. the Microsoft Way (which they’re used to).

      1. The only slightly minor issue with this analysis is that Word isn’t even 100% compatible with Word, and hasn’t been for about as long as there have been different versions of the application, not to mention between Windows and Mac versions.

        Which is not to say that Pages can’t be improved.

  5. Somehow I don’t see this making a dent in office. If you figure excel is the backbone of many corporations and numbers does not even come close to hanging with excel its dead in the water from the start.

    1. Yeah hopefully a “real” iWorks, one that is iWorks on steroids and maybe developed on the side, would come out and kick Office to the curb. Doesn’t it feel like Apple has always been holding back on giving iWorks their all? Maybe this is the time they aren’t afraid to cut the Office cord.

  6. This is the possible way to partially get rid of that MS Monopoly. Build an office suite that is 100% backwards compatible with existing MS Office suite and you take away one of the reasons that MS continues to dominate. Second take away the BS applications dependent on MS Office/Windows/Server and you will finish them off.

    1. No program I’ve ever tried that claims to be Word Compatible (let alone compatible with Excel or PowerPoint) has come close to either accurately exporting or importing Office Docs. Not OpenOffice (which was supposedly designed to), not WordPerfect (which has trying to do so since Word for Windows), not Google Docs (not even close), and not even the versions of online Word I’ve tried to edit my standalone Word docs in..

      Pages, which won’t even allow you to use “Save As Word” – rather requires you to create a second doc via exporting – also doesn’t even come close. So their embracing of solving this problem sounds dubious at best.

      As long as Office docs matter and PDF’s are inconvenient to edit (and when saved by most programs do change at least things like type contract and more), MS’ position as the “lingua franca” of shared documents will continue.

      And as someone who DISLIKES Word, I’m therefore still hoping that Word for iOS will give me something I can live with. I’m not about to abandon decades of thousands of documents.

      1. Thats why I always wonder about these “compatible” alternatives. Office must have some kind of special custom code or technologies that cannot be licensed? Or perhaps MS makes it so that other apps simply bork trying to translate the document?

  7. THE major component missing is Outlook. Say what you will, but iCal, Mail and Reminders are totally inadequate next to Outlook’s integration.
    Especially when date-activating follow-up on email and/or appointments.

    I’ve tried dozens of apps and none compare with the sophistication of Outlook.

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