Microsoft Office Is a Cash Cow Worth More Than a Dying Operating System
While Microsoft holds back on delivering Office to iOS and Android, a horde of other developers are sneaking in to their space and offering “office-like” apps that are steadily weaning loyal Office users off their application of choice and teaching them to make do with other tools.
Apple’s iWork is getting close to being a viable Office replacement on the iPad, and it is even closer on the Mac.
OpenOffice and Google Apps have much less functionality than Microsoft Office, but many people are forced to use them because Office is not available on their device.
People may soon realize that these applications work just fine for them, given that most users don’t use a fraction of the capabilities of Microsoft Office. In fact, some users may grow to appreciate the simplicity of working within these suites and give up Microsoft Office altogether.
Microsoft recently started offering free Office applications in the cloud, which is a great first step to being more open. The next step should be offering Office applications on iOS and Android.
It’s understandable that Microsoft would view these operating systems as rivals to its Windows cash cow, but Microsoft has two cash cows in its product barn, and only one is dying. Why hobble Office in the vain hope that it will protect Windows? All that this protectionist strategy will do is erode market share for both products.
In the early days of computing, Microsoft held back on making Office available for Mac. At that point, Office helped Windows to become the dominant operating system for business, and Windows helped Office become the dominant productivity suite.
Knowledgeable consumers and businesses have embraced various tablets, starting with the iPad and the many Android devices that are available. Despite years of talking about tablets, Microsoft was late to latch onto the tablet wave and to adapting to the cloud. These two trends are causing users to consider the operating system to be increasingly irrelevant. Applications are driving the adoption of operating systems and the devices they run on.
Office has been available on the Mac for years, and it hasn’t contributed to the erosion of Windows’ market share nearly as much as the introduction of Windows Vista did, for example. Vista marks the point when Microsoft “jumped the shark” in operating systems and Windows 8 is more of the same. So it makes no sense to yoke Office, the jewel in Microsoft’s crown, to an increasingly irrelevant operating system.
Microsoft needs to stop clinging to past glories. By clinging Office to Windows, Microsoft is in danger of losing both its cash cows.