Microsoft Office for iPad team discusses development process, Ballmer and upcoming features in reddit Q&A


Microsoft’s Office for iPad engineering team did an “Ask me Anything” on reddit today, to talk about the newly released Office for iPad apps, their development process, and a number of other topics that reddit users brought up.

The fact that Office for iPad was released after Satya Nadella became CEO has led many to believe that Ballmer didn’t want Office apps for the iPad. The actual situation however is a little different, as clarified by the Office team:

The decision to ship Office for iPad was made before Satya became CEO. Steve Ballmer approved the plan to ship Office for iPad.

Office, however did take a long time to ship, with rumors of its existence dating back to 2011. So why did the three apps take so much time to be released? The team answers:

Since we were designing Office for iPad from a “blank slate” so to speak, we wanted to take the time to deliver the highest possible quality Office experience that is fully optimized for the iPad. A wise man once said, “Details matter, it’s worth waiting to get it right.” That rings true for how we thought about it.

As for the dilemma of working for Microsoft but developing for rival platforms — the Office for iPad team has some interesting answers:

When I applied for a job at Microsoft, my resumé said that I was interested in working on application software for Windows, Unix and OS/2. Microsoft hired me to work on Word for the Macintosh, and I’ve been a Mac developer ever since.

So, I’m a Mac person because of Microsoft. If that makes me a traitor, it’s all Microsoft’s fault.

office for ipad team
The Office for iPad team

The Office for iPad apps come years after the iPad shot to fame, leading many to believe that Microsoft lost its chance, and that tablet users no longer require a dedicated Office suite. The team, of course doesn’t believe that, arguing that the wait to get things right was worth it, and that they took the 12 million downloads and the top three positions as a sign of their success.

The Office for iPad team also works on Office for Mac, and the two products share code. The subscription based pricing model of Office 365 will ensure that the apps get frequently updated to address current requests like print, right-to-left language compatibility.

For the entire Q&A, head over to this link.

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