Why did Microsoft port Office to Apple’s iOS iPad before Android?

“Earlier this month, Gartner reported worldwide tablet sales for 2013 that depicted Apple’s iPad as slipping into obscurity with just 36 percent market share left,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider. “Why would Microsoft target Apple’s minority tablet platform with its new mobile Office apps over Google’s Android, which supposedly owns a 61.9 percent marketshare?”

Dilger reports, “Even five years ago, if you’d said Apple was going to stuff Microsoft Windows back into Pandora’s Box and return the tech world to a time where there was real competition in hardware and third party developers like Microsoft had to compete in a software meritocracy for sales, you’d be laughed at.”

MacDailyNews Take: Yup, some did.

As we have always said, even as many short-sightedly waved (and continue to wave) the white flag, the war is not over. And, yes, we shall prevail… No company is invincible. Not even Microsoft.MacDailyNews Take, January 10, 2005

Dilger writes, “Consumers are currently winning because there are more options, and in turn more intense competition. And that’s why Microsoft ported Office to iPad before Android: it was forced to do so in order to remain relevant. Android doesn’t have the power or relevance to make anything happen.”

Much more in the full article here.


  1. Now Microsoft will be able to go back to their old strategy of using profits from Apple devices to strengthen their own business and eventually compete with Apple later while folks remain dependent on .doc file format.

    This move isn’t defeat but it is defensive.

    1. First off MSFT is not going to rule over tech like they did. They missed the boat and will be a runner up for a long time.

      Another thing that I’m not sure has been said is Google is the enemy of both Apple AND MSFT. This is the most important thing. Why should MSFT help a company that’s stealing their old customers? They know they can’t touch Apple at this point, but they can sure beat the hell out of Google if they stay focused.

  2. If you think about it, Android uses the Linux kernel.

    Android is (allegedly) open source.

    Once they release Office for Android, you can expect Office running on Linux.

    Believe me, the community has the brains and means to make it happen.

    Would Microsoft be working on some way to avoid this to happen? If you think about it, having Office running on, let’s say, Ubuntu, which is not a bad distro, could make Windows in the office even less relevant.

    You get an old PC (or a new one), pop Ubuntu in for free, and get Windows to run.

    I don’t know. I can see it coming.

    1. I highly doubt the kernel has much to do with things…

      If you want to go deeper:
      – Mac OS X runs on a Unix kernel
      – Microsoft Office runs on a Mac
      – Linux runs on a Unix kernel
      – Therefore according to your logic, Microsoft office must also be able to run on Linux and Android

      1. True.. I think they started with iOS to actually work out any major problems for the Office interface simply because iOS is limited to basically 2 resolution ‘sizes’.. Once it is comfortably usable, reworking it to work on Android and linux devices that may require support for windowing and multiple resolutions will be much simpler.

    2. 10 years ago or so when people thought that Linux might be the next thing *maybe* MSFT might have ported Office over, but that ship has sailed.

      Android gets more and more closed every month unless you’re forking off a version and not using Google’s apps.

  3. Balmer is no longer in charge and Bill is now a consultant. Balmer was making stupid moves. It appears that the right people are all in their right place now and moving the company forward. Balmer did not want to put office on a iPad. These people know that in the beginning they were the first ones to make software for the Macintosh. That is where they made their money and them moved to the PC. They are doing the wise thing again and going to the iOS devices first make some money then move on to Android.

    1. Wow that’s a bit preemptive isn’t it time will tell if the right people are in the right place or not but I have doubts that putting Office on iPad will do much to inspire the cash cow, though it might help stop it declining which is the real thinking behind this move.

  4. Simple – because Apple users have money and Android users don’t therefore Microsoft have a better chance of getting subscribers to their service.

    1. I think it is more likely that they believe they will get a better mindshare with enterprise iPad users with businesses using Office 365 right now than profit from ‘new’ subscribers via the in-App purchase. As Android becomes more preferred in the enterprise MSFT will build the App suite for it too if not working on it already.

  5. The reason for Not going to android can be found here:

    “In a conversation with AppleInsider last fall, IDC analyst Ryan Reith noted that his company engaged in research during 2013 that turned up a “significant surge in low end devices,” which he described as “TIER TWO” CLASS TABLETS, ones that feature processors as slow as 600 MHz and include devices that Reith offhandedly described as “KIDS TABLETS OR TOYS.”

    THESE sort of “tablets” make up an incredible TWO THIRDS of the global tablet numbers reported by market research firms, clarifying that it’s the recent recognition of these devices as “tablets” that has affected Apple’s iPad “market share,” not competition from tablet makers like Samsung and Microsoft, both of whom continue to struggle far behind Apple in their tablet sales. ”

    (All Caps: Mine for emphasis) So the real truth is that two thirds of android tablets are toy tablets and are not meant for business or home computing – essentially the equivalent of being a feature phone listed/counted as a smart phone.

    1. Hmm.. Funny you should conclude that 2/3 of Android tablets are ‘toy’ tablets from your earlier quote in the same message that [“TIER TWO” CLASS TABLETS, ones that feature processors as slow as 600 MHz and **include** devices that Reith offhandedly described as “KIDS TABLETS OR TOYS.”] (‘**’ inserted for emphasis).. So though from that passage that 2/3 of global tablets are Tier two devices corresponding to the criteria given, YOU have no idea how many of those are actually Kids Tablets or Toys. Whatever the case it does not change that iPad’s TABLET (which does not make any distinction) marketshare is what it is based on the current definition of a tablet computer.. It may also be arguable that the iPad mini is an ‘Enterprise-class” device.

  6. The reason is simple. Microsoft had an internal face off raffle to find out which was the uglier mobile OS between Android and iOS 7, and iOS 7 won hands down.

    So it was decided that they should port Office to the iPad because they could maintain the ratio of ugly to useless going from WP8 to iOS 7.

  7. There are two reasons Office came to iPad before Android, one marketing and one technical:

    1) iPad owners have a proven record of spending more money on apps…Android owners are more often cheapskates, kids and/or hackers, whereas iPad owners are more often business people and/or adults
    2) Office for Mac already existed and the development environment, language, process, and APIs for Mac and iOS are probably 80-90% the same, so it’s a relatively easy port (except for the actual user interface), whereas Android is Java-based, therefore porting Office to Android would be a 100% rewrite and enormous investment. Based on #1, it wasn’t worth it.

    Honestly, I think they’ll find that even the iPad version was a bad investment…it’s too little, too late, and too expensive. With iWork being free, who needs Office?

    Let’s be serious…they’ll likely get TONS of downloads, for people who want to open their Office docs in the native apps…and for free, why not? But who is seriously going to write/create substantial documents ON their iPad often enough to justify the $10/month cost?? For the little bit of updating and creating most will do, the iWork suite is more than adequate. If you need more than that, you probably need a full keyboard, too, so just use your PC.

    If Microsoft has any brains left, they’re simply viewing Office for iPad as a “loss leader” to KEEP people on office for Windows/Mac…it does add value to the absurd Windows 365 subscription model and will help justify it for some.

    1. 1) I believe Office for iOS is free but requires in-App payment if you are subscribing to Office 365 via the App.. If you already have an Office 365 subscription via personal/business subscription already it is simply a way to have access to it via iOS devices. So I don’t think iOS users spending more was such a major consideration.
      2) From what I hear Office for iOS was redesigned pretty thoroughly and would best be described as Office reimagined for touch computing. I would go as far as to say the UI lessons learned from creating the iOS version may go back to redesigning Surface’s App as well as play into the design of the Android version.

      This was probably more an investment to keep Office as a whole, relevant in the enterprise. Unless iWorks is compatible with Office 365 I doubt that it being free and already available will matter to the people that do use Office 365.

    1. Ok. Perhaps you don’t want or need photoshop or the Adobe suite or Microsoft live or Office360.

      But for some that do, your comment has little or no influence or relevance and doesn’t make economic sense.

      If I was using Photoshop for a project, then paying the small fee per month for that one tool for the duration of the project would most likely be cheaper than “buying” the product.

      Secondly, having the monthly fee gives me better accounting. I will charge my customer this fee I pay to Adobe. I can account for it easier this way rather than spending the money upfront and then trying to make sure I add my company expenses into the overall cost of my products or services.

      As soon as my project is over, then I no longer need to pay Adobe. Remember, in most projects the assets belong to the customer anyway. Since I shouldn’t keep them, I don’t need adobe anymore…until the next project,

      If I need it to learn, the monthly fees are accounted in the training budget.

      Again, much easier to do accounting.

      As far as Microsoft office 365, almost the same arguments apply. The difference is cloud services. If you use iCloud, then you pay for it. Even if you use the 5GB”free” plan.

      I pay Apple a lot of money for iCloud.

      The point is, we can think of many other reasons to NOT use Adobe or Microsoft products. Returning to the “subscription” argument holds no merit and is largely irrelevant.

      Let’s focus on some real reasons.

      1. Baloney. Whether or not a product is offered as a subscription service is 100% relevant. It goes to the heart of the value of the product. A subscription product kills its value. It is worth zero once you stop paying the endless subscription costs. It becomes an unmitigated ripoff.

        I will continue using Adobe and Microsoft products that do not require a subscription. That is, until Apple screws us over again with an “update” that kills their functionality.

        They all suck: Adobe, Microsoft and Apple. They are all in it for what is best for them; not what is best for us.

        1. So, you don’t use more than 5G on iCloud and don’t pay for iTunes Match? Ok, then if you don’t buy the subscription then you don’t get the product. Don’t buy if you don’t need.

    2. Why lump them together? Adobe’s products set the gold standard for image editing. Photoshop is the best in class by a LONG shot, and all others try to play catch-up. Photoshop has never had a true competitor.

  8. Apple has a very high brand recognition, customer loyalty, early adopters reputation & strong retail presence. Android has none of the above. There’s just cheap.

  9. The article is false. Microsoft Office has worked on Android phones *and* tablets for quite a while now. You just need to sideload it if you’re on a tablet (very easy to do). Furthermore, on Android it’s completely free unlike on the iPad (granted the iPad version has more features). I’m running Office on my Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 and it works great on both.

  10. Why did Microsoft port Office to Apple’s iOS iPad before Android?

    Because the people who decide which software to buy — that is, with which company to engage in a strategic partnership — (upper-middle to upper management) are more likely to use iOS than Android. The people who run Android are not the ones who decide which software to run. The Android runners are the IT guys, who just make everything work for the people who decide.

    Neither group is capable of making a informed decision on software packages.

  11. Android may have market share at home but not in the office.
    IOS is leading that charge and that is another reason Microsoft needed to push out office for IOS. Although again they waited to long and the cost is to high compared to the competition which is $0.

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