Microsoft's commitment to Office beyond Windows

Microsoft confirms Office across devices, including Android.

There has been plenty of unquestioning press reports from the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2014. Statistics and commitments are quoted without much consideration for their worth.

The good news is another commitment to Microsoft Office ‘cross platform’ meaning, for the moment, not just Windows and Macintosh. Here’s one slide from the keynote address: image from Microsoft

We’ve already seen Office for iPad. That’s a success from Microsoft’s POV because it’s encouraged more people to switch to their annual payment model for Office software. That’s what makes Office for Android such a likely release.

Vision of Universal Apps

We also heard about the Microsoft vision for ‘universal’ apps. That means programs that work across the complete range of Windows devices, smartphones, tablets, laptops, PC’s even Xbox and gigantic Perceptive Pixel displays.

It’s a nice ‘vision’ which we’ve heard in similar refrain for a long, long time. It almost never happens in the real world because the platforms and hardware are so different. The software we are eventually asked to buy inevitably isn’t as compatible or consistent as Microsoft’s visions promised.


Instead of making substantive efforts towards customer privacy and security, Microsoft continues to sidestep the major privacy issues. Another slide from the keynote demonstrates this: image from Microsoft

As we’ve noted before, the encryption of data between Microsoft servers was only recently upgraded to a level that their rivals had done years before.

Microsoft’s commitment to notifying customers about legal orders (point 3 in their slide) is mostly meaningless as the company knows quite well. In many cases, Microsoft has to comply with an order for data and is forbidden to notify customers. Microsoft real commitment to customers would be better served if they admitted that limitation.

The wording of that point is worrying since it specifically mentions notifying ‘business and government customers’ with no reference to individuals.

The Digital Crimes Unit and Trustworthy computing have a place, though it’s worth noting that both were created only after considerable pressure from customers and law enforcement. It’s ironic to see Microsoft trying to take credit for things they were dragging ‘kicking and screaming’ into doing.

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