Yesterday Apple announced that all of its consumer software, including OS X Mavericks, is now free. Customers who buy Apple’s hardware will have full access to the completely new versions of iLife and iWork at no additional cost. It’s a bold move that The New York Times called a direct attack on Microsoft Office.
The decision to make iWork free wasn’t Apple’s only jab at Microsoft during yesterday’s keynote, and now the Redmond giant has gone on the defensive.
“Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino,” wrote Microsoft VP of Communications Frank Shaw on the company’s official blog today. He called iWork “less popular and less powerful” when compared with Office.
“Since iWork has never gotten much traction, and was already priced like an afterthought, it’s hardly that surprising or significant a move,” said Shaw. “So, when I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don’t see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up.”
It’s true that iWork has been in need of a redesign for quite some time, but now that it has been modernized, upgraded with cloud collaboration tools, and made free to Apple customers, what little wind was left under Office’s sail is gone.
Microsoft’s Office 365 subscription costs $99 per year, a price that makes hardly any sense to the average Mac user who can use Pages, Keynote and Numbers for free. And Microsoft has kept Office for iPad at bay for years (a poorly received iPhone app was finally released this summer) while simultaneously running marketing campaigns that call out the iPad for lacking Office support.
Frank Shaw also used his Apple bashing as an opportunity to tout the Surface, a tablet Microsoft can’t pay people to use. “Since we launched the Surface line of tablets last year, one of the themes we’ve consistently used to talk about them is that they are a terrific blend of productivity and entertainment in one lightweight, affordable package. In fact, we’re confident that they offer the best combination of those capabilities available on the market today.”
“The Surface is the most productive tablet you can buy today.” Really?
Shaw went on to describe how the design of the Surface wasn’t an accident; Microsoft wanted to create a product that was great for getting things done and having fun. That’s a fine vision, but Surface sales are basically nonexistent because it’s a confusing product and no one wants to actually use Windows the way Microsoft imagined.
“The Surface is the most productive tablet you can buy today,” according to Shaw. Really?
At yesterday’s event, Tim Cook revealed that 170 million iPads have been sold since 2010. Cook also said that the competition is confused. “They chased after netbooks. Now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs.”
The Surface came out last year, and while Microsoft won’t release sales numbers, everyone agrees that it has been a major flop. And with Office’s glory days quickly fading from memory, Microsoft has resorted to pointing fingers.
Source: The Official Microsoft Blog