It’s often said that Microsoft doesn’t play nicely with others. Look for example towards its Android “licenses” which allegedly see Microsoft making more money from Android than its own AOL emulator (or Windows Phone). ;)
With that in mind, Microsoft does still very much rule the roost in Office utils and whilst the mainstream consumer moves to different form factors (Apple and Android) it appears Microsoft wants to ensure it can still cash in on its only future product line. Why do I refer to Office as future product line? Well simply we have consumers (and industry to a lesser extent) switching to form factors which are not “powered” (for want of a better word) by Microsoft. If current trends continue and the desktop does all but disappear in all but the most tech dedicated homes, then the Office suite means little. Google are also making large strides with their Office suite and since its webbased apps will run happily on any platform or form factor, Microsoft may be worrying.
It’s reported that Microsoft is releasing its Office software for Apple Phones, this is what Cnet reports:
Office Mobile for iPhone includes access to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The programs aren’t meant for document, spreadsheet, and presentation creation. Rather, they are aimed at helping Office users make quick fixes to existing work, and share those files. The files, like all Office 365 documents, will sync with Microsoft’s SkyDrive Web storage service. Users won’t be able to store files using the app on Apple’s iCloud service.
So whilst you have to be a Office 365 customer in order to take “advantage” of this free app, for me it suggests the start of an admition by Microsoft that users are no longer going to be tied into it’s ecosystem.
Looking further afield we see Xbox One (already slated and given a derogatory name of Xbone) being upstaged by Sony and the PS4. We see the smartphone market little more than apathetic to Microsoft’s products and we also are seeing the traditional Office coming under attack by alternatives, which seem to be well received. Even Skype (which was a Microsoft purchase) seems to have had the Microsoft anti-Midas touch of late and how much longer is Skype going to be relevant when again there is so much choice in VIOP services?
The picture is not too great for Microsoft and its future. I’ve said recently that I believe the reason Microsoft plugs away with its phone efforts is so that it can’t be accused of patent trolling when it rakes in the profit from it’s Android licenses and as some people will probably agree, if Microsoft does have a long term future, it will be in the area’s of patents.
The worrying thing about this is (and the Microsoft Advocates are keen to point this out) is that Microsoft is not going anywhere – this is very true. It has a massive warchest of cash, a library of patents and in my view a opinion of “do it our way or not at all”. I think on the way down, Microsoft will bring many others down with it.
Microsoft play nicely with others? In my opinion, there’s more chance of Steve Ballmer spontaneously growing a full head of hair than Microsoft playing nicely with anyone.