by Shane O'Neill

Microsoft Investor Joins ‘Get Office on the iPad’ Chorus

Apr 23, 20132 mins
AndroidEnterprise ApplicationsiPhone

A U.S. hedge-fund sinks $2 billion into Microsoft, seeing future dollar signs in Windows Azure and Office on iOS and Android.

It seems everybody but Microsoft thinks it’s a good idea to make the Office suite available on iOS and Android.

Technology and financial analysts, pundits and journalists have spent the last few months stressing how economically beneficial it is for Microsoft to allow Office to work on iOS, especially now that Microsoft is depending on a subscription service with Office 365; having an iPad app could provide more motivation for people to sign up.

Office on the iPad

An alleged road map for Microsoft’s coming Gemini wave of Office updates obtained by veteran Microsoft watcher and blogger Mary Jo Foley indicates that Microsoft’s Office for iOS and Android will happen, but not until the second half of 2014. An eternity in software time.

Microsoft has not officially announced when or if Office 2013 will be available on iOS and/or Android.

This week, another voice has joined the “Office on iPad” chorus — and is backing up words with wallets. Hedge-fund ValueAct Capital Management has taken a $2 billion stake in Microsoft (or about 1 percent of the company’s total shares). Despite the scary decline in PC sales and Windows 8 slow adoption, the hedge-fund founder Jeffrey Ubben believes Microsoft’s Azure cloud services and the company’s other enterprise businesses are undervalued and will ultimately help Microsoft prevail.

Within three to five years “Microsoft could be the largest cloud company in the world,” Ubben said, according to the Wall Street Journal, adding that Microsoft is a “dominant software company… and in the long term it will win out.”

The ValueAct stake and Ubben’s comments lifted Microsoft shares 3.6 percent to $30.83 on Monday.

ValueAct’s 1 percent stake in the company is not significant enough to hold any influence, but Ubben did join the herd and suggest that Office be available on non-Windows devices, according to Reuters.

In February, a Morgan Stanley financial analyst estimated that supporting Office on the iPad could generate $2.5 billion a year for Microsoft.

That does not factor in the lost sales of Surface devices and other Windows 8 tablets such a move could produce (Why get a Windows 8 tablet when Office is available on other tablets?) But still, $2.5B is a lot of greenbacks. It’s no wonder a hedge-fund guy would want to get Office out of the Windows prison as soon as possible.