About a month ago I wrote a snarky post about Microsoft updating Word. In my defense, Word for the Mac has not had the best track record over the past several years. Nevertheless, I do frequently need to use Word in the law gig and I’ve been using the new beta on nearly a daily basis and have to admit, I like the new version. It’s still Word and full of features, buttons, and dials, but this is the cleanest user interface they’ve had yet. Most importantly, it is the most stable version of Word on the Mac I’ve used since before the Intel switch. I’ve not had a single crash.
Earlier this week Microsoft released an update to the beta that you can download here. I asked around to some other Office power user friends and I’m hearing that Outlook is having issues but if you are just using Word, give it a spin.
My congratulations go to Microsoft for embracing iOS this year with versions of Office for iPad and iPhone. If there is anyone you’d want to see review Microsoft Word on the iPhone, it’d be a lawyer and nobody is better at these stress tests than Jeff Richardson. Jeff’s conclusion are two thumbs up. I have a feeling that in my day job, using Word on my phone is one of those things that will make me wish I kept the big phone.
I vented my spleen a bit on a recent Mac Power Users episode about instability in Microsoft Word on the Mac. I received a lot of email about that and it appears I’m not alone. I did, however, also receive a very nice email from listener Don that explained how he made Word crashes go away by unchecking Word’s “Use smart cut and paste” feature. I’ll try anything once so I went ahead and unchecked it a week ago. I’ve got a big “thing” at the day job starting Monday so I’ve been working in Word most of this week. Guess what? No crashes. Now if you’ll excuse me I’ll be knocking on a lot of wood.
Several website, including The Verge, are reporting that Microsoft is about to announce Microsoft Office for iPad. While we’ve heard this before, this one feels more real than past promises and threats. I believe there has been a war raging on the inside at Microsoft between factions that wanted to keep Office on Microsoft Platforms only (to help drive sales of Microsoft platforms, like the Surface) and those others that see the iPad as a 100 million plus potential Office customers. I bet it was ugly.
Assuming they do release Office for iPad, I hope they do it right and include advanced formatting like styles and track changes. A few weeks ago I’d have said that is unlikely based on what they did on the iPhone. It seemed more likely that the resolution to the internal conflict over Office on iPad was to release it for the iPad but make it so pedestrian that Office power users are still required to go to a Microsoft platform. However, having spent a little time with OneNote for iPad, I’m hopeful. Either way, my money’s on them requiring an Office 365 subscription to get in the door.
Of course it could also be possible this is, once again, nothing but vapid rumors. If that is the case, the question becomes at what point do we stop caring if Office shows up on the iPad? I know several people that have already crossed that bridge.
I’ve been yammering away at this subject for two years now. Sadly, most people in my line of work use Word and Excel so I spend plenty of time in those applications. With a massive installed based of iPads, I can’t understand why Microsoft isn’t already there. If they were holding back to try and give the Surface an advantage over the iPad, that didn’t work very well.
Anyway, Steve Balmer is now cryptically saying it is coming. If so, I’m guessing you’ll only get it with an Office 365 subscription, like the existing iPhone Word application. While I understand Microsoft is probably doing a smashing business with lawyers and accountants, I have to wonder how relevant Office is at this point with everyone else.
The most recent scuttlebutt is that Microsoft is going to wait until the end of next year to release Office for iOS. I’ve written about this before and my thoughts haven’t changed. I remain convinced that Microsoft is losing dump trucks full of cash by not putting Office on iOS. If the rumors are true and they are delaying it to the end of next year, this is not a function of engineering delays. It’s clearly a marketing decision to give the Microsoft Surface some advantage over the iPad. However, this doesn’t appear to be working.
I understand that Microsoft is laying low on office on the iPad while they try and get their own competing tablet off the ground but I think it’s a mistake. This is an example of competing priorities in a company hurting the overall bottom line.
The real risk is that previously faithful Office users start using the iPad and discover other ways to get their work done. Anecdotally, I’ve met many people who tell me how they used to rely on Office and now have dumped it on all platforms. The worst outcome for Microsoft is that the Surface isn’t successful and Office stops being the cash cow they’ve relied upon it to be. I don’t think that scenario is out of the question at this point.