In a week where Microsoft have released a SkyDrive app for Windows Phone, OneNote for the iPad and updates to Hotmail, the Senior Director of Office 365, Tom Rizzo, has said we should expect more platforms to be supported by Microsoft mobile products next year.
In an interview with veteran Microsoft journalist Mary-Jo Foley, Rizzo said "We want to work where people work, whether it’s online or offline, and on various platforms." He went on to say that Android is in the frame as well as a bigger focus on the iPad.
So why would Microsoft do this when they have their own tablet operating system, Windows 8, coming out within a year? Well let's not forget that Microsoft are a 'software' company, not an operating system company first and foremost. While Windows might be a huge revenue earner for them on the desktop and the server, Office also does well for them on both PCs and Macs, where on both platforms it is the dominant office productivity package.
With the hugely successful launch of Office 365 this year it makes complete sense for the company to roll out its products across as many platforms as possible. Rizzo acknowledged that the iPad is "mattering more in the enterprise" and so clients for their office productivity software including Lync, OneNote, SkyDrive and Office Live matter.
All in all we're moving towards a world of apps. Anyone who picks up an iPad won't expect to have to go online to use a service such as Office 365. They'll expect there to be an apps for it. As such we can fully expect Microsoft to deliver such an app, or more likely a series of them, that will deliver the entire Office 365 experience to their customers on the iPad.
But why should Android be left out? It's becoming more and more common for cross-scripted packages to be ported to every mobile platform and the tools have existed for some time to enable this. Thus it is cheaper and simpler than ever before and Microsoft would only be sensible to make sure that their productivity apps are available for Android devices and others including those form Blackberry and perhaps even WebOS.
As I mentioned before this is nothing new for Microsoft who have been producing and supporting office on the Mac for many years. Why should this software company be defined by their operating system? If their cloud products are genuinely good and people are using them in ever greater numbers, it makes good business sense to support those customers on the platforms they choose to use. After all, you don't make something a cloud-based service in order to tie them to a particular operating system, or even web browser.
Other companies, including Google with its own web apps system, have fallen some way behind Microsoft this year with products that simply don't stand up against Office 365. These companies could still come forward with a winner, but the longer they take and the more platforms Microsoft support in the interim, the harder it will be for competitors to compete long-term. After all, just ask Microsoft what sales are like for their Windows Phone OS. If anybody knows how tough competition can be when you arrive late to the party, Microsoft do.
Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.