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Microsoft exec scoffs at talk that Apple's free iWork threatens Office

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 24, 2013
Frank Shaw, head of corporate communications, counters media reports, calls iWork suite 'an afterthought' and 'struggling'

"Microsoft might view iWork as light-weight, but it could certainly be looked at as a fine small business tool, and potentially medium-sized business [tool]," Moorhead argued. "So long term, Microsoft is threatened by Apple's declaration that OS upgrades and productivity software are free, or included in the purchase."

Moorhead cautioned Microsoft not to believe its supremacy in productivity was insurmountable, even in business. "It may not be an immediate change, but it's one of these things that further galvanizes the potential buyer into seeing software as free," Moorhead said. "History has been on Microsoft's side, but markets, as we've seen, can shift quickly. And this could be another one of those big shifts."

As have others before him — and as he has done himself in the past — Moorhead urged Microsoft to react, and quickly. "Instead of giving people a reason to try something else, Microsoft should go cross-platform with Office. Office should be out on the iPad and on Android as soon as they possibly can do it," Moorhead said. "The extra level of pull-through of Office hasn't been enough to sell the Surface, so they're not going to lose anything by doing that."

To Moorhead, Apple's strategy was clear. "Apple sees an opportunity to pull in people with its lifestyle and productivity applications," said Moorhead. "If it hurts Microsoft in the process, that's okay."

It's Microsoft's strategy that he wasn't clear about. "Microsoft charges tons of money for Office and Office 365," Moorhead said. "Can you imagine what it would be like if developers charged $10 or $20 for a smartphone app? Apple has simply reset the paradigm for apps."

Computerworld's Ken Mingis chats with Keith Shaw about today's Apple announcements, which include the iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina display and free operating system and productivity software for Mac users.


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