People are increasingly using mobile devices at work for more than just email. Just as the laptop liberated us from our desks more than a decade ago, smartphones and tablets are freeing us from having to carry around six pound machines that take time to wake up, or require you to find a desk or ledge to set them on to enter or extract information. Microsoft will be increasing its presence on iOS devices with apps for users and IT personnel.
Apple already makes a productivity suite for iOS devices called iWork, which has a spreadsheet (Numbers), word processor (Pages), and presentation program (Keynote) that mirrors the iWork offering for the Mac. The apps are $9.99 each in the app store. The reviews though aren't spectacular, with each having between three and four stars. The reviews mention a lot of compatibility issues with Microsoft documents, which are still the de facto standards for companies today.
Microsoft hopes to capitalize on that, at least for the iPad, according to rumors reported by The Verge. The apps will feature Office 365 integration and should support desktop Office formats. The pricing is also rumored to be similar to iWorks. Look for it to be released in early 2012.
It will be interesting to see how the suite compares to the Office suite that comes on Windows Phone 7 smartphones. While better than the Mobile Office apps on Microsoft's older platform Windows Mobile, the new suite on Windows Phone is still best for viewing. Making changes to a complex document carries with it the risk of trashing formatting and other features in the original document. The iPad should have enough power to support more feature rich apps. It certainly has the screen real estate to allow for more features than you could reasonably use on a phone.
Agreeya Mobility has licensed protocols from Microsoft that will allow the company to develop mobile apps for some of the software giant's server products. Remote Desktop, Windows Azure, SharePoint, and even Active Directory will be supported.
In addition to iOS, the Agreeya Mobility apps should make an appearance on Android. Windows Phone already supports SharePoint natively, but it would be nice to see Azure, Active Directory, and other server support on Microsoft's platform, even if it comes from a third party. These apps should roll out starting in March of 2012.
The Enterprise Connect conference program covers the full range of platforms, services, and applications that comprise modern communications and collaboration systems. It happens March 25-29 in Orlando, Fla. Find out more.