A recent discussion with Microsoft's Steve Ballmer—staged at a Bellevue, Wash., convention center for financial analysts that was webcast live—featured a suggestion that would prove very welcome for business tablet users, though it's entirely possible that this particular suggestion may not pan out. More specifically, the discussion with Ballmer called attention to a possible porting of the hotly popular Microsoft Office system for tablets in both iOS and Android flavors—a move that, if it comes to pass, will give mobile workers a lot of extra firepower in the field.
Ballmer referred to “upside opportunities” for Microsoft, and included talking about bringing Microsoft products to platforms that aren't commonly seen running Windows or Windows products. Microsoft is, according to Ballmer, “working on everything that you think we should be working on.”
Though Windows is still job one when it comes to development and launching of Microsoft applications—and with good reason; it's the platform Microsoft built, so why not develop for the platform that's most familiar?—there's a lot less “religion” than many people may think is at work here. While Ballmer didn't specifically note the two major mobile operating systems in his remarks, it's worth noting that, one, the lack of major Microsoft products on these platforms has been something of a sore spot for the company for some time, and two, there are already several Microsoft products—like OneNote, SkyDrive and Skype—that can be found in iOS and Android flavors, so why not make the move for everything else?
Pictured: Steve Ballmer
Indeed, the company seems to be making a move in that direction, going from an on-premises software provider to being a device and cloud services provider, with several moves underway to make that happen. Tops on the list are developments in Office 365 and Azure, Windows PCs, smartphones and tablets, and a somewhat mysterious class known as “high value opportunities” in which Microsoft hopes to innovate.
Several measures are in place to help Microsoft's attempts to achieve in those categories, including a bit of reorganization in terms of how the company reports financial performance. More specifically, the reports are being split into five segments in two main categories, starting with Devices and Consumer, which handles hardware like the Xbox, licensing matters Office for consumers, IP licensing, and Windows Phone. The second is Commercial, which tackles various enterprise-level services including server products, including an “other” category for things like Office 365 for businesses and Azure.
Some believe that the move simply shows that Microsoft's product line has too much diversity in it and that will make things tougher for the company going forward. Some product lines should be a bit more autonomous, and this makes some sense in light of developments like those presented by the Xbox line. After all, that's mostly a different market—few business customers are likely considering an Xbox One—though there is a market for home use of Microsoft products. Some even wonder just how much this has to do with the upcoming retirement of CEO Steve Ballmer, and how much impact said replacement would have on rendering any of this moot.
But given that Microsoft has already been spotted working with Oracle, the idea that Microsoft is willing to do some things differently to keep the operation running is well-established. This may mean some strange new directions, and some exciting new developments to come.
Edited by Alisen Downey