Let's cut to the chase. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s first press conference since he started 52 days ago was pretty underwhelming.
Yes, he finally announced the launch of Office for iPad, along with the new Enterprise Mobility Suite — surprising just about no one.
But all of those who expected something more from Nadella, like detailed insight about his plans for the company, left disappointed. Aside from discussing his Mobile First, Cloud First strategy and those plans to push all Microsoft customers into the cloud, he didn't say much.
But give him points for being poetic, in person and online. As he noted in a blog post, "As long as human curiosity and ambition drive us to create new things, capture moments and collaborate to get things done, we should expect the world of devices to follow suit."
The Cloud and Mobile are One
Nadella — and his company — view mobility as a key business area and the heart of Microsoft's Mobile First, Cloud First strategy. In fact, Nadella stressed, the cloud and the mobile are one: two uninteresting but co-dependent things that become very interesting together.
"I don’t think of the cloud and mobile as two things. They are two facets of one thing. The cloud was created to enable mobility. And mobile devices are really uninteresting without the cloud. That’s why I talk about them together. Mobile without cloud is limiting. The cloud without mobile is mostly latent potential. But the place where they meet is magic," he said.
The cloud is the vehicle that allows phones, tablets, computers and TVs to interact with each other and seamlessly move content and data. "The real goal for us is to set up to provide the apps and services that empower every user across all of these devices and experiences. That's perhaps the job number one that we do: To empower people to be productive," he said.
What About Office for iPad?
So back to Office for iPad. Word about the new product actually came from Julia White, the Microsoft Office general manager. Three feature-rich Microsoft products — Word, Excel and PowerPoint, all newly tooled for the iPad — will all be free to download form the iTunes App Store.
But don't get too excited. Microsoft isn't really giving this all away. The apps are free and will allow users to read, view and present documents. But you will need a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 service to edit or create documents.
Office 365 currently costs $9.99 a month for the Home Premium subscription. A soon-to-be-released Personal plan will cost $6.99 per month.
An Office 365 subscription will integrate with a user’s OneDrive account, enabling users to work anywhere and anytime from their iPads.
The three apps look much the same as their Office 2013 counterparts, displaying Office documents as they would on a desktop.
Microsoft also introduced the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), which is designed for enterprises that have a large number of workers using diverse devices. EMS is designed to enable IT departments to manage iPads, iPhones, Android devices, Windows devices and more from a central location.
EMS will provide a way for enterprises to buy a number of different technologies for bring your own device (BYOD) strategies including Windows Intune, a new Microsoft Azure Active Directory 'Premium' offering and Azure Rights Management Service.
Why Office for iPad?
Microsoft is trying to pull iPad users away from the likes of Apple iWork and Google Docs in the hope of creating a new revenue stream for Office.
But will iPad users jump at the chance to have it? Across town at MacWorld, no sooner had the announcement been made than the reactions started coming in. They were lukewarm to say the least.
"I’m not a big fan of Office,” said Cristian Ard, information systems engineer for Charles Schwab, the financial brokerage. “I wouldn’t use it in the cloud. We don’t use external-based data storage.” He said that is standard in the financial services industry due to security concerns.
David Chin, principal software engineer for Raytheon, said security also would be a concern in the defense industry. “I’d use it for personal use,” he said. “But we don’t use iPads at work.”
Tiffany Giang identified herself as an information systems manager at Boeing. She said she could not speak for her company, but noted that she personally didn’t think there’s much of a need for Office on iPads other than for viewing documents. “I feel like I’d rather use Word on a PC or Mac -- an actual computer -- when I type. I’m not the type of person who types things out on a virtual keyboard.”
Reactions have also been mixed across social networks and the Web. It is clear that Microsoft is really going to have to sell this very hard and looks like just a too little and too late from the productivity point of view
However, this is only the first half and Nadella is only beginning. He already promised to talk-up Windows at next week’s Build 2014 event, also in San Francisco.
(CMSWire reporter Tom Murphy also contributed to this story.)