Microsoft and Apple Make Amends with iPad Pro Launch

John Lister's picture

The audience at an Apple launch event was shocked to see a Microsoft executive on stage this week. It marks a closer collaboration between the former bitter rivals, centered on people using Microsoft Office on the move.

The appearance came from Kirk Koenigsbauer, one of Microsoft's many corporate vice presidents. He's responsible for the various versions of Office 365, which allows users to have an ongoing subscription (plus all relevant updates) to Microsoft Office, rather than buy a particular edition outright.

Koenigsbauer attended the event to show off how Office 365 will work on iPads. In particular, he showed the app on the iPad Pro, a new model with a 12.9 inch screen that makes it roughly the size of some smaller laptops. Apple is intentionally targeting the new model at business users, particularly those who want to work on the move.

Office App Gets Makeover

With the new launch of the iPad Pro, Microsoft's Office app for Apple devices has received a face lift. One change is that it will now be possible to have two different Office tools (such as Word and PowerPoint) open at the same time, displayed side by side, in much the way that Office works on a desktop PC. (Source:

There will even be an option to use the split screen, but only send one app 'window' to an external display. Microsoft says this could be useful for giving a presentation with PowerPoint on a projector screen while accessing presenter notes which the audience can't see.

Office on the iPad Pro will also support Apple Pencil, which is a stylus accessory. Users will be able to add handwritten notes and editing suggestions to documents before sharing them with colleagues and clients.

iPad And Surface Still Competitors

In some ways it's a surprise to see Microsoft working so publicly to promote the iPad Pro given that it's an obvious competitor to its own range of Surface tablets. Microsoft had previously promoted Surface devices as suitable for business staff with a higher budget who needed something more suited to work, rather than for media consumption often used on tablets, such as an iPad.

Analysts suggest a couple of factors have influenced Microsoft's apparent change of heart towards Apple. One is that CEO Satya Nadella has been trying to foster a better relationship with other tech firms, departing from the often aggressive manner of predecessor Steve Ballmer. The other is that Microsoft now believes its long-term strategy is in subscription models rather than outright software sales or hardware purchases. That makes it all the more important to have its applications available and working well on as many devices as possible. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Is Microsoft right to work closely with Apple, even though both firms produce rival devices? Would a more enjoyable and productive experience with Office tempt you towards the large iPad? Can a tablet ever compete with a laptop when it comes to tools such as word processing?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Just about everything is subscription based now, so this move doesn't surprise me. Apple has a huge following and so does Microsoft. If they join forces together they both stand to benefit from a lucrative source of income.

As for whether or not I'd use an iPad or tablet for MS Office, that is another story. Nothing beats a laptop or PC for word processing and similar activities, in my opinion. If you're using an iPad or tablet as a supplement (for presentations on the go, for example), then I guess it makes sense - but to use a tablet as the primary source for input just won't work for me. Tablets aren't productivity devices.

guitardogg's picture

First off I agree with Dennis, any serious word processing, etc. requires a "real computer". Tablets, no matter who makes them, are great for some things, and not for others. The keyboard for the Surface Pro 3 isn't bad, but I wouldn't want to create any serious documentation on one. The keyboards for the iPad (there are many out there) work okay, but again not for serious word processing.

Subscription based software is great if you need to always have the latest version, but most people don't use any features of MS Word that have been added in the last 15 years. I can get by without the ribbon, I know how to use menus! I like owning my software outright, and not having to keep paying just to keep it working.

Based on current iPad prices, the new Pro will probably cost more than the Surface with equivalent specs.

Doccus's picture

Maybe this time they'll stay friends ;-) It's interesting gthat the previous two times that Apple and Microsoft developed a closer relationship was also centered around Office. The first was, I believe, around the time the first Mac was introduced, when they carried both Office ands MS Works.. the second was on Steve Jobs' reentering Apple's fold, when both Office and Internet Explorer became prominent.. although MS Office had always previously been available for Mac, it was not a promoted product, and relations between MS and Apple before Jobs' reentry had been quite frosty...