Microsoft stock has risen to its highest level since 2000, and has risen 8.12% year to date, basically as a result of an announce press event on March 27. The rumors are the long-awaited release of Office for iPad.
The rumors of this fabled combination have been talked up for years, but Microsoft stalled on rolling it out because former CEO Steve Ballmer played the now-obviously-failed strategy of making Office apps only available on Microsoft Windows tablets, like Surface and Nokia tablets. This is the case of ignoring business demand for iPad (see What Microsoft and CIOs have in common: they are stuck in the past).
Nadella has been making quick moves to get out of the corner that Ballmer painted the company into, like the recent release of OneNote of Mac and other platforms for free (see Microsoft accepts the inevitable, takes first steps toward making Windows and Office free). As I wrote, then,
My bet is that Nadella will realize that he has to trade the hypothetical revenue from these products [OneNote and Windows licenses for phone makers] — and Office — and give away the OS and apps for free in exchange for relevance. That’s the ante he has to make to stay in the game.
My bet is that Microsoft will in fact be announcing the availability of Office on iPad for zero cost, with the caveat that it will require one of the many flavors of Office 365 to operate. NOte the recent announcement of Office 365 Personal as part of the footwork leading toward this next inevitable step (see Office 365 Personal is more proof Microsoft is trending toward free apps). The number of new sign-ups for Office365 could run to the tens of millions, I am betting, and would go a long way toward slowing the defection of business users from Office apps to alternatives.
And the market agrees.