But in a sign of the seismic changes underway in the tech
industry, Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, said on
Thursday that it would give away a comprehensive mobile edition of
Office. The free software for iPads, iPhones and Android tablets
will do most of the most essential things people normally do with
the computer versions of the product.
Just a few years ago, giving away a full free version of Office
would have earned a Microsoft chief executive a visit from a witch
doctor. Now, the move is following through on the rallying cry
coming from Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new chief executive, who
has pushed cloud and mobile computing as lodestars for the
It seems that Microsoft is finally accepting the reality of
Office’s market position on smartphones and tablets. To some
degree, Office needs to compete with the free Google Docs and
iWork, but for many customers, it’s also competing with the idea
of simply not using office apps (or using them far less often).