Ina Fried

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Microsoft’s Challenge: Bringing Office to iOS and Android While Protecting Its Two Moneymakers

Developing Office for iOS is not a huge technical challenge. Indeed, Microsoft has had working apps in-house for some time.

However, coming up with the right business model while balancing all of the company’s many objectives — now, that’s the tricky part.

And that, more than anything else, explains the long wait for Office on iOS and Android.

Here are three key factors Redmond is trying to balance:

  • Microsoft is coming from behind in the phone and tablet space, and has touted Office support as a key selling point for Windows Phone and Surface.
  • Office needs to remain relevant, and doing so means being on all of the devices its users are running.
  • Office, along with Windows, remains a key profit maker for Microsoft and one of the main financial engines it needs to compete in other areas, including search and mobile devices.

It appears that Microsoft has settled on a strategy designed to balance all these objectives. According to a report by The Verge, it will require an Office 365 subscription to edit Office documents on iOS and Android. That means that it would continue to make money from Office, and Surface and Windows Phone devices would still have the advantage of full Office bundled in.

Office 365, introduced in recent years, is Microsoft’s effort to shift Office from a traditional packaged software product into a service that can run on multiple devices and operate as a subscription service.

As for its Android and iOS plans, Microsoft has issued a number of statements, some contradictory, but the company essentially indicated that, yes, Office is coming to Android and iOS at some point.

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— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle