Office Products for the iPad. Enterprise Mobility Suite

Posted: March 28, 2014 in SBS 2011
Tags: , ,

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 Satya Nadella Press Conference

It it difficult not to be impressed at how Satya Nadella, the new Microsoft CEO, came across in his press conference yesterday.  First, there was the substantive announcement of Office products for the iPad, a long awaited announcement, and Enterprise Mobility Suite, perhaps even more important but not directed at the herd of individuals who were applauding the iPad announcement.  But Enterprise Mobility Suite is much more telling of what is happening at Microsoft now and a harbinger of what we can expect from them in the future.

Second, there was the tone and style.  Not too flashy, certainly not distant.  Goldilocks.  Just right. The announcement ended making me want to go have a cup of coffee with Satya.  Sorry, Steve, but in spite of the fact that 15 years ago we did just that, I rarely felt that way when you left the stage.

Office Suite for the iPad

The first best thing about the announcement is that within an hour or so, you could actually get the products.  Not what we have become conditioned to in the industry as a whole and especially from Redmond.

Full disclosure: I don’t own an iPad.  I have Windows 8.1 tablets and devices including a Windows 8 phone.  I am driven by the accessibility those platforms give me to Office 365 (the hosted services thing, not the subscription Office 2013 thing – more about that later).  So my experiences are thus far second hand; five iPad owners and I gathered together last night for our first men’s book club meeting by coincidence, so I heard their tales.

The first thing I heard was a joyous reaction to having them available almost right after the announcement.  Close behind that was how good they were.  All of the expected functionality but clearly with a touch pad interface in mind.  Not just a port, but a proper adaption to the device.

The second thing was that when they went to the App store, searching for Office yielded all sorts of apps, but nothing from Microsoft.  Instead, it is Word, Excel and PowerPoint not as a suite but as individual products.  You can also find them on the Microsoft Office site at Office on Mobile Devices.

That Office 365 Thing…

I have written about this before.  There are two very different things Microsoft calls Office 365.

One is a way to use Office 2013 by paying for it with an annual subscription fee, essentially leasing it instead of purchasing outright.  There are a number of advantages:

  • No upfront cash outlay for the purchase
  • Use up to five copies on different platforms as opposed to a single platform with a purchase
  • Always have the latest version as your subscription continues
  • And a handful of other subscription features

The other is hosted service: Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, and OneDrive for Business.  Depending on the plan – and of course cost – subscribers can get the same five installation download of Office 2013, and the cost is just the same as getting Office 2013 standalone.  But Office 365 in this context is a powerful and flexible collaboration platform that makes features, once only available to large organizations, affordable and accessible to organizations as small as a sole proprietor to very big companies.

Enterprise Mobility Suite

Companies are going to embrace this.  If there is a way to put this simply, it may be to say that it is common for computers and some devices to be under the control of the company.  Their servers control security and can limit data leakage.  However, it is much more the case that works will bring their own device to the workplace environment, whether it is an iPad, Android tablet or phone, or even their own Windows tablets.  Those fall outside of company server control.

Enterprise Mobility Suite will address that with three services, mobile device management, identity management and rights management.  While consumers are unlikely to rush to buy this, IT departments are going to embrace it I predict, and so does Microsoft.  Read about it at Enterprise Mobility Suite.

More to Come

The announcement concluded with an announcement of a subsequent press conference next week.  This may be even more of a promising sign than the actual product announcements.

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