If you could run Microsoft Office natively on an Apple iPad, would you even consider buying a Windows tablet? I think that'd be an interesting survey question to pose but the answer won't mean much because it looks like native Office for the iPad isn't going to happen anytime soon.
The latest hint that Microsoft is going to keep Office for its nascent tablet business was delivered by none other than company founder Bill Gates, who in a recent interview slammed iPads for not having Office. But as Computerworld's Gregg Keizer adroitly points out, that fault is not Apple's, but Microsoft's, as Redmond is the company keeping Office off iPads by refusing to produce the software for the world's most popular tablet.
This is a big problem for mobile enterprises of all stripes, because it's likely that Office is still the runaway leader in mobile collaboration. With so much of the business world's work resting in documents created in Word, it seems a crime to keep Office off the iPad. Yet that embargo remains probably Microsoft's best chance to catch up in the exploding tablet market, which shows no sign of slowing down. We've seen surveys this year saying that enterprise folks want more Windows tablets, most likely for perceived easier management and access to Windows and Office apps.
But I wonder how those survey results might change if all of a sudden Office was available on the iPad. Would you still want that Windows tablet if so? Or is Office all you really need for most of your mobile collaboration?