Microsoft is forgoing as much as $2.5 billion a year in extra revenue by not yet putting a full-fledged version of its Office suite on Apple’s iPad. That’s the estimate by Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt, as reported by Fortune magazine today.

There were a series of reports last year that Microsoft was working on a version of Office for the Apple tablet, but the company has clearly been wrestling with this one. Putting a real version of Office on the iPad might be good for Office, but it also would be a tough pill to swallow for the Windows business, taking away or diminishing one of the key points of differentiation for the new wave of Windows tablets.

Microsoft’s chief financial officer, Peter Klein, was asked about this at the Goldman Sachs technology conference yesterday. Here was the exchange:

HEATHER BELLINI: … A lot of questions about Office on iOS. What do you have to do to get it there? What are the reasons why you wouldn’t bring it there ultimately as you think about how that would maximize profit for that division?

PETER KLEIN: I’m sure you can imagine the tradeoffs. We think about it a lot. We have a history of cross-platform delivery broadly in productivity, whether it’s Office on the Mac, or whether it’s certain experiences that apply that customers really want across platform, whether that’s e-mail, communications, note-taking. So, we deliver all those products cross-platform, Exchange, Active Sync, SharePoint, OneNote, and a whole bunch of things. And, importantly with the web applications you can do — you can access Office documents, do some light editing on any device, and on any browser.

And so there’s a lot of things that we’re doing to meet that need, and then we’ll continue to think about other things going forward.

That reference to Microsoft thinking about “other things” clearly leaves the door open to seeing some form of Word, Excel and PowerPoint et al in an iOS app from the Redmond company. But my bet is that Microsoft will offer something much, much less than a full-featured version of Office if it does decide to walk through that door.

By the way, according to Fortune, the Morgan Stanley estimate for Microsoft’s potential annual revenue from Office on the iPad is based on an estimated installed base of 200 million iPads in 2014 — and the number would be after Apple takes its 30 percent cut.

Like what you're reading? Subscribe to GeekWire's free newsletters to catch every headline


  • GG002

    Anybody bothered about lack of essential stuff on iPad, should quit whining and move to a better platform then. It’s not like Apple makes everything they make available on other platforms either.

    • Chris Lynch

      The problem isn’t that essential things are missing on the iPad. It’s that an essential part of Microsoft’s arsenal is missing. What people like myself and others are doing is simply moving on to other products to do the work we used to use Office for. My Office usage is at an all time low, despite the fact that Office is best of breed for most productivity apps.

      Office is a product suite designed to create documents and information for sharing in an organization or with external partners/customers. This makes it essential to be ubiquitous, unlike say… a product like iPhoto, which Apple makes.

      • guest

        You know it now works from a browser too, right?

  • Patrick Husting

    I’ve seen Excel and Word on the iPad. It Rocks. It will probably print MSFT a ton of money. They should release it and get with it.

    • Kent

      How did you see it w/o being on non-disclosure?

  • guest

    That’s seems like an very optimistic estimate. Everyone I know uses their iPad primarily for entertainment or surfing the internet. They have PCs or MB’s for doing real work. Would they pay for some more limited subset of Office on iOS? Some would. But I don’t think it would be a lot, and they’d expect App Store like prices, which is why Apple’s iPad is so devastating to MS (killing not only potential Windows licenses but also Office). I expect that MS’s efforts will be more around providing iPad client support within enterprises. And I also get the sense that their real (ground up) touch Office offering is the next version, not the recently released one. That may explain the delay. Also, MS is just slow these days. At everything.

  • guest

    MS is still working under the delusion that they can halt the progress of Android and iOS by withholding Office support. Instead they’re just allowing GDocs and iWork to roll up the consumer space, which will come back to haunt MS in the enterprise.

  • guest

    Aren’t we still waiting for Office for Linux too?

    Don’t hold your breath. They’re going to use the web apps are the bare minimum and try to keep moving people to Windows/Office.

    Right or wrong, that’s all they know. It’s what they’ve been doing since Windows 95/Office 95.

    This is not a leadership that’s going to change 18 years of practices. Agree or not: they don’t see any need to.

    • guest

      What, you and the other guy running it?

  • Scott Moore

    If it would end up being anything like the horribly crippled version of Office MS made for the MAC then they should saver their engineering resources and money. Their claims to supporting cross-platform solutions is nonsense.

    iPad users would quickly be disappointed and move on to other comparable apps and solutions. Besides that they would probably have to completely re-engineer Office, as it’s closely tied to the Windows platform and .NET programming.

    If I were a program manager at MS I’d run as fast as I could from porting office to the iPad.

    • guest

      Yet there it is a huge seller. Probably the most popular paid app on the platform. Disgruntled ex-MS employees probably aren’t the most neutral observers.

  • Seth Thomas

    I’m waiting for the ipad to be available on Office.

  • Aaron Evans

    As reported by Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt on behalf of Apple.

  • Guest

    The notion of Microsoft “holding back” Office for iOS is absurd. Office _began_ on the Macintosh. Microsoft sells more Mac OS X software than any other company, including 10 times as much Mac software as Apple does. We expect a Q2 release date for Office for iOS, which will be a free client that interoperates with Microsoft’s Office365 offering. This business model maximizes Microsoft’s revenue and will grow O’365 mightily.

    We are not affiliated with Microsoft.

Job Listings on GeekWork

Find more jobs on GeekWork. Employers, post a job here.