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Satya Nadella on Why Office for iPad Took So Long

It's more than just porting the Windows version to the iPad, Nadella says.


In announcing Office for iPad, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked about all of the reasons why Microsoft was bringing the software to Apple’s tablet. What he didn’t talk about onstage was why Microsoft didn’t do it sooner, especially since it had been working on versions for years.

“We’ve been obviously working on this for a while,” Nadella told reporters. “The thing we wanted to get most right was the combination of what I would call the combination of the app, the enterprise architecture, the developer APIs, and then marry it with the device and what you expect from the device. … It’s not just a trivial thing, let’s port Word for Windows to a particular device.”

Office for iPad, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint — but notably not Outlook — is slated to be in the App Store at 11 am PT today. Viewing documents is free, but creating or editing them requires an Office 365 subscription.

Nadella also talked about why Microsoft renamed Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure.

“It’s just a reflection of what Azure today is. If you think about Azure, it has Linux instances. In fact, 15 percent of Azure is just people who are using it as a Linux host. It has support for Java as first class. It’s a much broader thing than a cloud for Windows customers.”

Asked by Re/code what he would say to loyal Windows 8 users still waiting for a touch-friendly version of Office, Nadella said, “We are committed to making sure these touch-first applications come to Windows 8.”

“You will see us talk more about it even next week about what we are doing on that platform,” he said. “The key thing that I want to get out of is thinking about all of these things as trade-offs. I want to do my best work on Windows and I want to do my best work on iPad and I want all of that to accrue to Office. It’s really about being able to go where the opportunity is. If we can serve customers who expect our Office 365 everywhere … we will do well. In the full arc of time there will be many new platforms that require Office, some small screen some big screen, and we need to be able to aggressively keep moving forward on all of those.”

He also said he is looking forward to the Nokia deal closing and Microsoft continuing to improve on the device front.

As for what the move will mean to Microsoft, financially, Nadella said he would leave that to the financial community. “I would leave it to Wall Street to do the analysis.”

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