But that’s only part of the picture: Word for iPad is the No. 1 free app in 120 countries. Microsoft launched Office for iPad in 135 markets. That’s a pretty decent win percentage. Excel remains in the top 5 in 125 countries, as does PowerPoint in 126 countries. So, Office for iPad is a massive, global hit for Microsoft — and Apple, which gets a cut of the revenue.
Are people signing up for Office 365, a subscription without which they could not edit documents? Word is the seventh-biggest grossing iPad app in the United States, Excel 14th, and PowerPoint 39th. I think that’s fair to deem a commercial victory, at least in the short term.
So, how did we get here? The Daily (remember that publication? It didn’t end well) wrote in 2011 that Office for iPad was real, that it had seen it, and that we would get it in 2012. The rumor stands that Office for iPad has been complete for a while and sitting on a shelf. If that’s the case and Nadella took it off the rack and sent it to Apple, then points to him. We don’t know.
The Verge reported in late 2012 that Office for iPad was coming in early 2013. All of these dates could in fact have been accurate at their time of publishing, which is fun. Microsoft confirmed that Office for iPad was coming in 2013.
What I think is plain is that Microsoft dragged its heels kicking Office out the door. That squares with its former strategy of Windows-first, everything else second. Microsoft has adjusted that. Now, the company is betting heavily on Windows, but will vend its services across all platforms. Hence OneNote for OS X and Office for iPad.
So far, it appears to be a working strategy. So far.