Microsoft develops Office Suite for iPad

If you can’t beat them, join them; Microsoft gets a piece of the Apple pie

Microsoft is developing a version of its Office 8 interface for Apple’s iPad. Originally slated for exclusive use on Microsoft’s own Windows 8 tablets (due for release later this year), Microsoft has bowed to Apple’s dominance of the tablet market, wishing instead to get in on Apple’s 80% share of the tablet pie.

Office Suite programs we all know and love such as Word, Power Point and Excel will be available for iPad for as little as $10 each. Although fairly ground-breaking, this won’t be the first time Microsoft has developed for Apple’s App Store which already stocks such stalwarts as MSN Onit, MSN Onpoint and the Bing App.

When Microsoft executive Stephen Elop claimed that Microsoft had no intention of bringing its Office Suite to the iPad in 2010, he could scarcely have guessed the extent to which the iPad would take a commanding lead in the market. Had Microsoft’s tablet been available for release sooner, they might have stood more of a chance against the iPad.

Perhaps it was the focus on the Courier, Microsoft’s version of a tablet that was unceremoniously dropped in early 2010, that slowed Microsoft’s tablet development. Whatever the reason, the slated 2012 release of their Windows 8 tablet is ‘too little too late’ experts say. JP Gownder of Forrester claims that; “On tablets, Windows 8 is going to be very late to the party. Product strategists often look to be “fast followers” in their product markets… For tablets, though, Windows really isn’t a fast follower.”

There are many tablets on the market to rival Microsoft’s new addition including the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and the Blackberry PlayBook. Since these tablets have been around for a while, they will be already into their third generation by the time Microsoft launches its Windows 8 tablet.

One can well understand Microsoft’s reticence to throw its towel in with the iPad platform; combining the more familiar MS Office with the dominance that iPad has of the tablet industry will make it less likely that users will buy the new Microsoft Windows 8 tablet when it makes its debut later this year.

With over $15 billion in 2011 earnings, the new iPad platform will help to grow Microsoft’s market share and test the tepid waters of the tablet market.

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