Microsoft: iPad and iWork Don’t Measure Up to Office on the Surface

Apple announced a lot at its event yesterday, including its new iWork suite for iOS. Aside from some upgrades, the big news was that Apple would include the suite free on new iDevices, an obvious shot at Microsoft Office and its Surface tablet. Now a Microsoft exec has fired back, responding to Apple and outlining the reasons Microsoft believes the Surface and MS Office offer the best on-the-go solution.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Communications, Frank Shaw, responded to Apple’s recent moves. Starting with a shot at Apple, Shaw was tongue in cheek, “Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino. So let me try to clear some things up.”

Noting that Microsoft Office remains the standard in productivity software, Shaw set out to steal Apple’s thunder, “Surface and Surface 2 both include Office, the world’s most popular, most powerful productivity software for free and are priced below both the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively. Making Apple’s decision to build the price of their less popular and less powerful iWork into their tablets not a very big (or very good) deal,” he noted.

The blog post went on to outline the dominance of Microsoft Office, and the company’s history of offering the best business and productivity solutions. Shaw closed with a point-by-point response to Apple’s iPad and iWork announcements:

Since iWork has never gotten much traction, and was already priced like an afterthought, it’s hardly that surprising or significant a move. And it doesn’t change the fact that it’s much harder to get work done on a device that lacks precision input and a desktop for true side-by-side multitasking.

But you wouldn’t know that from reading some of the coverage I’ve read today. Perhaps attendees at Apple’s event were required to work on iOS devices that don’t allow them to have two windows open for side-by-side comparisons, so let me help them out by highlighting the following facts:

• The Surface and Surface 2 are less expensive than the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively, and yet offer more storage, both onboard and in the cloud.
• … come with full versions of Office 2013, including Outlook, not non-standard, non-cross-platform, imitation apps that can’t share docs with the rest of the world.
• … offer additional native productivity enhancing capabilities like kickstands, USB ports, SD card slots and multiple keyboard options.
• … include interfaces for opening multiple windows, either side by side or layered to fit the way most people actually work.

So, when I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don’t see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up.


Microsoft recently dropped its greatly upgraded Surface 2 line of tablets and so far the reviews are good. There’s no question that Apple’s iPad still dominates the high-end tablet market, and the first round of Surface tablets never sold well. But Microsoft’s obviously playing the long game here, and the inclusion of Office on its tablets for free is a huge bonus for productivity-minded consumers.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out! Let us know what you think in the comments.

[Via: Microsoft Blog]

  • Arash Jafari

    In my opinion none of the free Office alternatives measure up to Microsoft Office but that only makes a difference for professional users not for the average consumers who are just satisfied with similar functionality and the ability to view proprietary formatted documents. iWork on the iPad is not a big deal but as the iPad’s large owner base belong to the latter group it very well might be a concern for Microsoft.

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