Office on the iPad

David Sparks has a typically smart take on the rumor that Microsoft is developing a version of Office for the iPad. He thinks it’s a good idea for Microsoft, and if you think otherwise, reading his post will probably convince you you’re wrong.

When I saw the rumor, my first thoughts were on a different track, but somehow David’s thinking and mine ultimately merge.

My first thought was What a reversal! At Macworld Boston in 1997, Bill Gates’s projected head loomed over Steve Jobs as the deal between Apple and Microsoft was announced. A key part of the deal was that Microsoft would continue to develop Office for the Mac and keep it current with the Windows version.

Apple needed Microsoft Office running on its hardware to keep that hardware viable in the market.

Now it’s Microsoft that needs Office to be on Apple’s hardware to make Office viable in the tablet market.1

This is where David’s thoughts and mine come together. As David says, Microsoft needs Office on the iPad to maintain the ubiquity of Office. As more computing is done on tablets, and with Windows years away at best from establishing itself on tablets, leaving Office off the iPad runs the risk of it becoming irrelevant.

Can you imagine how delicious it would have been for Steve to get up on stage and announce the launch of Office on the iPad?

  1. A market which, as Marco Arment says, is really just an iPad market.