With Office for iPad being released this week and Microsoft reportedly backing away from its anti-iPad campaign, change is underway at the software giant.
There’s an obvious reason for this. The company’s new CEO Satya Nadella is a breath of fresh air in Redmond.
Clearly Office for iPad was in the works before Nadella was promoted to CEO in February. There’s evidence of Office for iPad that surfaced (hrm!) back in October 2013 and December of 2012. Eric Slivka’s Mac Rumors post in October suggests that Microsoft was working on bringing a “touch-first” version of Office to its own Windows platform before iOS.
It’s not hard to imagine the meeting where Steve Ballmer was shown the product and forbid it to be released.
And there — right there — is why Nadella is different from his predecessor.
But to see just how different he is from Ballmer, it’s important to look at the past.
In the keynote, Jobs shared Microsoft’s promise to release the same number of releases of Office for Mac as on the PC, and announced (to booing) that Internet Explorer would be the default browser on the Macintosh.
While those agreements have expired, the stress felt in the room is evidence of the rift between Cupertino and Redmond. To address this, Jobs said:
We’re shepherding some of the greatest assets in the computer industry. If we want to move forward and see Apple healthy and prospering again, we have to let go of a few things here.
We have to let go of this notion that for Apple to win, Microsoft has to lose. We have to embrace a notion that for Apple to win, Apple has to do a really good job. And if others are going to help us that’s great, because we need all the help we can get, and if we screw up and we don’t do a good job, it’s not somebody else’s fault, it’s our fault. So I think that is a very important perspective. I think if we want Microsoft Office on the Mac, we better treat the company that puts it out with a little bit of gratitude. We like their software.
So, the era of setting this up as a competition between Apple and Microsoft is over as far as I’m concerned. This is about getting Apple healthy. This is about Apple being able to make incredibly great contributions to the industry and to get healthy and prosper again.
I really think that Jobs believed this. The war was over years ago, but Microsoft just now let down their weapons. Nadella gets it; Ballmer didn’t.
Nadella seems to understand that for Microsoft to survive the post-PC era, it has to evolve. The idea of keeping a product from Apple’s platform just because of the logo doesn’t work anymore. Microsoft needs to make good apps backed by powerful cloud services.
That’s a future I welcome.