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Microsoft Windows

Office for iPad Signals End of 'Windows Everywhere'

The arrival of iPad-optimised versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint will be significant for business users who love their Apple slate devices but, listening to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speak, it also felt like the end of something.

Once the fortunes of Intel and Windows marched in lockstep to the extent that their platform was dubbed Wintel. Today, you don’t hear that phrase so much and the companies who defined the PC generation are looking far and wide for new directions. Windows is still a money-making machine for Microsoft but the company is seeking out other views.

Let me say right away that I think releasing iPad versions of these applications is not the ‘too little, too late’ tactic that some critics are suggesting. Microsoft applications remain the gold standard and I have often thought that a good strategy for Microsoft would be to introduce the equivalent of the Pepsi test. Rival suites feel meagre and threadbare by comparison. Business iPad users will snap up these capabilities to turbo-charge their machines into devices that cross the consumer and business worlds.

Of course, Microsoft has long had a profitable relationship in selling its software on Apple devices and famously helped rescue the Cupertino company when it was at its nadir, bailing it out in 1997. But what was notable was the way Nadella referred to Windows 8:    

“You will see us talk more about it even next week about what we are doing on that platform… It’s really about being able to go where the opportunity is. If we can serve customers who expect our Office 365 everywhere… we will do well. In the full arc of time there will be many new platforms that require Office, some small screen some big screen, and we need to be able to aggressively keep moving forward on all of those.”

“That platform?”

Other clues regarding a change in emphasis were scattered as if a careless burglar had been in the house. Windows Azure is now Microsoft Azure with Microsoft accentuating its power as a host for Linux instances. And we already know that Nokia, soon to be at the heart of Microsoft’s device unit, will offer an Android phone.

Bill Gates often said he wanted to see Windows everywhere and as recently as last year it ran ad spots with that self-same message, touting the benefits of having a unified experience across devices. But Windows has only a minority position on the emerging devices such as smartphones, tablets and wearable gadgets. Today’s Microsoft has recalibrated though and is becoming a multiplatform company.

 

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Editorial Consultant for IDG Connect

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