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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

MS Office 2010 comes to the iPad as a rental

The introduction of Siri in the iPhone proved that Apple has figured out the client-server conundrum, off-loading heavy computing chores such as answering spoken questions to a hot, noisy, powerful server in a huge server farm in North Carolina and then returning the answers lickety-split to the cool, hip client of an iPhone. It does this without requiring a lot of intervention on the part of the user. Indeed, it took sufficiently fast and ubiquitous wireless connections to  make it happen.

With that in mind, let me point your attention to two services offering Windows 7 on an iPad along with Word 2010, Excel 2010, and Powerpoint 2010: and is a Silicon Valley startup which has an app in the iOS App Store for its service offering. It only offers Office so far. From what I see, they offer the Windows version of Office. offers Windows and console games from its servers to several kinds of clients. They started out with games to prove that they could bring this client-server relationship with full-motion video. Now they will release an iPad app on Thursday, 11/12/2012. got to test this setup. Aside from some latency issues inherent to any client-server setup, it worked pretty darn well. 

To make a successful client for a tablet (whether iPad or Android) requires two things. First, you have to get the engineering down right. You want to make it as close to running a native application as possible. Second, you have to get the legal aspects down right. As I haven’t heard of any cease-and-desist orders from Microsoft, I presume they’re cool with this.

I would think at this point that Steve Ballmer has to think, “Why didn’t I think of this? Providing Office as a service instead of striving to sell a full-blown copy?”  

If these services take off, I am sure that Microsoft will offer its own Office-as-a-service to those who buy Windows 8 tablets. I am sure a lot of Windows 7 Ultrabook owners, strapped for storage space due to using SSDs, would gladly pay for access to such a service.  

And I am sure that Cloudon and OnLive will introduce Windows and Mac clients for users of MacBook Airs and Ultrabooks. Think fast, Redmond.

Tom Briant

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