Why is Microsoft dissing Apple when it comes to Office?

Microsoft's so far refusing to release a version of Office for the iPad is not the only way that the company is dissing Apple. It's been more than three years since the company has released a version of Office for the Mac, and there's still no release date. Why is Microsoft treating Apple so badly when it comes to Office?

Trying to figure out whether Microsoft will ever release an Office version for the iPad is the tech pundit's favorite game (including mine). That's because Microsoft has been giving mixed signals about it for a very long time. Last October, Steve Ballmer said Microsoft would release Office for the iPad, but only after a touch version was released for Windows. Then last week Tami Reller, Microsoft's chief of marketing, said that Office may never be coming to the iPad. That was followed by a report a few days later by Mary Jo Foley that Office would be coming to the iPad.

The fact is, though, that it's not here now, and may never be here, even though significant revenue is at stake.

Microsoft isn't just ignoring the iPad. As Gregg Keizer reports in Computerworld, it's been more than three years since Microsoft has updated Office for Mac. The current version is Office 2011. Keizer notes that this is an unusually long time between Mac versions:

"The average spread between Office for Mac editions -- going back as far as Office v. X -- has been 1,088 days. But as of Thursday, it had been 1,213 days since the launch of Office for Mac 2011."

Keep in mind, that's 1,213 days and counting, and there's no word from Microsoft when a new Mac version of Office might be here. Keizer also writes that:

"What odd is Microsoft's silence about the next Office for the Mac. The last cycle -- for Office for Mac 2011 -- the company was comparatively loquacious, announcing its intentions to craft the suite about 14 months before shipping the software, and it gave semi-regular updates on its MacBU blog.

"News of the next Office for Mac? Nothing."

So why is Microsoft dissing Apple like this? It may well be that there's a battle inside Microsoft being waged over Office's purpose. Is Office not just supposed to be a money-making product, but also a strategic piece to be used to prop up Windows and gain market share in the mobile market? If that's the case, then what MIcrosoft is doing makes perfect sense: Deny Office for the iPad as a way to get people to buy Windows tablets, and put Office for Mac on a slow upgrade cycle so that enterprises are less likely to move to Macs with that hardware's laggard Office version.

Or is Office supposed to be primarily a money-making proposition, and not used to solve Windows' shortcomings? If that were the case, then there would already be Office for the iPad. After all, there a lot of money to be made with Office for the iPad. Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt believes that Microsoft would get $2.5 billion in additional Office revenue with it. Gerry Purdy, principal of MobileTrax, says that Microsoft could gain $1.25 billion in new Office revenue in the first year of a release, and $6 billion in annual revenue by 2017.

For now, it seems, those who believe Office needs to prop up Windows are ascendent. But in the long run, they'll likely lose. There's too much money at stake for Microsoft to continue to diss Apple when it comes to Office.

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