iWork app icons

There’s nothing like a good dogfight between two tech titans to get your blood flowing. After a hiatus from its sniping at Apple, Microsoft is back, calling the decision to offer iWork and iLife software free “no big deal”. Sure Microsoft, whatever you say.

But Redmond didn’t stop there. In a Wednesday blog post, the software giant’s communication vice president paints Apple’s move as desperate, before launching into a rally-round-the-flag sort of promo for the new Surface tablet.

All of which reminds me of the Hamlet quote about protesting too much…

“When I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don’t see a shot across our bow, I see an attempt to play catch up,” Frank Shaw, Microsoft’s Corporate Communications Vice President said.

It just so happens, Microsoft makes its Office suite free on the Surface and new Surface 2. You remember the Surface – it was the tablet that Microsoft couldn’t give away, forcing the company to take a nearly $1 billion write-down.

But why let such trivia get in the way of a public spat.

In the blog post not-so-subtly titled ‘Apples and Oranges’, Shaw ticks off the reasons why the Surface is better than the iPad.

1. The gold standard in productivity sofware – Office.
2. Faster and more precise input methods like keyboard/trackpad.
3. The ability to apps and documents side by side, allowing the comparisons, analysis and synthesis that happens frequently during content creation.

All that’s missing is a PowerPoint presentation.

To be fair, Apple isn’t blameless.

iPad Air Numbers 2

When CEO Tim Cook unveiled new iPads on Tuesday, he poked at Microsoft, even bringing up the whole netbook disaster.

Here’s what he said on stage:

Our competition is different. They’re confused. They chased netbooks, now they’re trying to make PCs into tablets and tablets into PCs. Who knows what they’ll do next? I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you that we’re focused.

All of which caused Shaw to launch into how Microsoft knows “how people work better than anyone else on the planet.”

Apple, on the other hand, is just about time-wasting entertainment. “Give them books, music, videos and games, and they’ll figure out the rest,” Shaw writes.

Office Mobile for iOS (iPhone screenshot 005)Office Mobile for iOS (iPhone screenshot 004)

“Now, since iWork has never gotten much traction, and has already been priced like an afterthought, it’s hardly that surprising or significant a move,” he adds, before returning to the Surface build-up.

And it doesn’t change the fact that it’s much harder to get work done on a device that lacks precision input and a desktop for true side-by-side multitasking.

No matter which side of the fence you’re on, that’s a very unusual and knee-jerk reaction on Microsoft’s part, indicating nervousness and insecurity – and I’m putting it mildly.


Google’s free or low-cost Apps suite has been hurting Office revenues for years now, and now Apple comes guns all blazing, screaming ‘free, free, free’?

A free office productivity suite from Apple now that Microsoft is about to finally release the long overdue Office for iPad?

The iPhone Office edition, pictured above, hit the App Store back in June.

At any rate, this has got to be Microsoft’s nightmare come true.

Did Apple touch a nerve, you think?

Also keep in mind that Microsoft’s lead licensing product, Office, is hurting because corporations are not upgrading PCs as fast as previously.


Because of tablets.

So, Microsoft creates the Surface and includes Office to get people to notice.

What happens?

Nobody wants the darn things because they’re all buying iPads. Now Apple wants to give iLife and iWork free on iPads, on top of giving away the Mavericks OS upgrade to everyone, free of charge?

This all reminds me of the good old days of Ballmer and friends.

Remember back in 2009, the then-Microsoft CEO called reported growth in Mac sales a “rounding error”? It’s baaack. This time Microsoft is complaining about Apple’s tablets. Different target, likely the same outcome.

  • Jonathan

    HA. watch Microsoft’s profits go down down down. 😀

    • Dominik Odobašić

      GOD you fanboys are pathetic.
      Go do THAT in Pages.

      • Rowan09

        I hope you know pages isn’t a replacement for Microsoft Office on a laptop, it’s made for a mobile device. It’s about time Apple gave these apps for free because prior to this you would have to purchase a spreadsheet, word processor, or presentation app.

      • Dominik Odobašić

        I’m talking about the desktop app. And no, Microsoft’s profits aren’t going anywhere.

      • Eddie Leonard

        Dude, I made a 3DS in Powerpoint a few years back in school. Big ****** deal.

      • Yujin

        For most light users iWork is good enough. If you are talking business users then ms still has that but for most regular students having a free copy of iWork is good enough. This WILL affect their profits.

      • Dominik Odobašić

        iWork applications are Mac OS exclusive, which is what – 10%, 15% of all personal computers in existence? Office for Mac was never really all that popular to begin with, and is still the go-to suite for Windows. So how will this affect their profits, exactly?

      • NSA

        Yes, right but now iWork is for free, so that means many people will encourage to use it. Then Apple will get a feedback about how to improve it, after that everything will change..it’s a matter of improving the software

    • xSeriouSx

      Hahaha, you’ll have to spend a $400 or more to get that “free” on mobile, OR $1000 or more to get it free on desktop…I don’t see that as competition against a flat out $120.

  • Johnny True

    Microsoft? not a big deal.

  • Rowan09

    So free is back according to Microsoft huh? While I would have the admit that the Surface Pro is a nice piece of hardware, I already have a laptop and house computer so it wouldn’t be good for me. To be honest since the iPad come out and all these other tablets, I haven’t used my laptop much, I use my iPad for applying for jobs, playing games, reading books, etc. Microsoft is getting it wrong I always thought Office was just too expensive it’s of course the standard but people who already has office don’t usually jump to upgrade to the newest model all the time. The Surface Pro is a confusing device because it’s suppose to be a touchscreen laptop but Microsoft is promoting it as a Surface for professionals, customer just don’t get it, but hey that’s my opinion.

  • batongxue

    And who is actually going to listen to that?
    Apparently nobody.

  • Christopher

    I find Microsoft Office clunky

    • Maxim∑

      No office is great. And so is iWork but it’s a different approach

    • STK10

      I find word a lot better than pages. much easier and straight forward interface for me. Pages has some nice templates in comparison though.

  • Kurt

    Misleading title…it’s free*…meaning, you must purchase a 500 or so dollar product. So there’s that. But since I’ll be getting the iPad Air, it will be free* for me. Otherwise i wouldn’t be able to get it for free

    • Ignacio Irigoyen

      Not really, you can use it online in icloud for free

      • Dominik Odobašić

        Oh, you mean that clunky half-assed web app?
        OpenOffice is far better.

      • Hehe18

        It does say beta… just pointing that out.

    • Rowan09

      No free means the product is free. Apple always said with the purchase of a new device. Let me guess Mavericks isn’t free because someone owns a 2006 Mac then huh?

      • Kurt

        I see you don’t read well…I said the title is misleading. What part of that didn’t you understand?

      • Rowan09

        I read very well but I don’t see what misleading. A title is to draw you in to the article, you do not have to include all the back story in regards to the iWork apps because the article is obviously written for people with knowledge of the situation. You must not read very well or you would see this clearly.

      • Benchmark Apps


    • felixtaf

      Provided, the product price was 499$ last year and its still 499$ now. They never increased the price (like some retailers) and give this free. Even if you buy a 700$ ultrabook, office isnt free (Its free in their tablets). Its free, if u buy their tablets – not when you dream about them.

      • Kurt

        I think MS only puts it free in their RT models…who would want that? not me

      • felixtaf

        I think its free in pro too. RT is good for simple work and its overpriced (for its features/function).

      • Kurt

        Tablets are good as their apps (besides win 8 pro that is the best all around since it is a genuine computer, next iPad) but RT is beautiful and all that, but the apps aren’t there. It’s gonna take time. I’m hoping a win 8 pro that dual boots in Android to come out. I wanted Samsungs Ativ Q as it was 15 inches or so and did just that.

      • felixtaf

        True. RT has some nice features too. My Uncle has one. It can connect to printers as well.
        Surface pro is really good, buy its expensive. Windows 8 tablets (Not RT, Not Pro) with atom processors r available from Asus & Dell. But they are masked by whole RT and Pro tablets.
        Although windows 8 tablets are cheaper that Pro (almost equal to RT price), they arent powerful. Windows 8 in atom processor and 2gb ram will go nowhere!

      • xSeriouSx

        Yup, you’ll have to add at least $110 to legally get office (not the subscription).

    • Eddie Leonard

      Here is a tip, Download a iWork and iLife DMG from the internet, make sure its a few versions behind the current one. Open up App Store, check for updates, update iWork & iLife and all 6 apps get added to your purchases list where you have now got them for free 🙂

  • Tommy

    Let them fight all they want. We on the consumer side get to benefit from these little fights they have.
    PS: these doesn’t get my blood flowing. But knowing it caused yours just makes you seem pathetic. Why u mad?

  • TesticularFortitude

    This is as a strategic move from Apple as ever. By offering this suite for free, Apple just killed Office for Mac and any chance of Office gaining traction on iOS.

    Since Apple sells hardware, they can afford to do this. Microsoft on the other hand doesn’t and can’t compete on price.

    Smart move.

    • iThinkergoiMac

      Apple certainly hasn’t killed Office for Mac, nor would they want to. If I work in a primarily Windows environment and I have a Mac, having Office on it can make or break how well that works (depending on how well you know software and other factors).

  • STK10

    there are free office options on windows already so why would MS care a mac product is free on a mac? lol. ilife will cost you a couple of GB download and maverick is about 5gb download fyi. The OS and ilife suits should be free anyway considering youre buying a computer that is more expensive than a WPC by a far bit.

  • dev29

    Face it, MS Office is the offimatic King and practically a standard on enterprises

    • TesticularFortitude

      It’s certainly ubiquitous.

  • abdullah575

    but its not FREE for all users !!

    • Donavan Asmawidjaja

      Neither iWork apps… Unless you buy a new product which is atleast around $300 (iPod Touch).

      • Jeremy

        Yes, but the caveat is they WILL be. Updates are also free, so once you buy into the Apple ecosystem once, from then on these products will be free

      • felixtaf

        You buy a 300$ product and get 45$ worth of softwares free. Is that a bad deal? The product price is same from last year (iTouch, iPhone, iPad). So its a good deal.

      • xSeriouSx

        Yeah it’s a bad deal when I can get just the software for $110, unless I can return the iPod for a full refund and still keep iWork. No need for a useless gadget.

      • felixtaf

        You are right. But isnt that 110$ software is licensed to use in only one PC?

      • xSeriouSx

        Ouch, what a ripoff…it is licensed for only one PC (all their non-subscription versions now are)…oh well, I hear ThePirateBay calling 😛

    • chumawumba

      So? Not that much of money considering they offer excellent software

      • Guest

        $400 or $1000 isn’t much money? What a spoilt brat…

    • iThinkergoiMac

      If you currently have iWork, the MAS is updating all versions to the current version right now. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but I just updated my iLife and iWork apps to the latest versions for free.

  • chumawumba

    Jealous much?

  • Ignacio Irigoyen

    iWork, iLife, and the OSX are becoming part of the product (not just a product by it self) to sell Mac (from phones to tablets to laptops).

    iOS has always been free, it stand to reason OSX would become free eventually.

    • Eddie Leonard

      iOS hasn’t always been free… I remember paying £7.99 for the 1.1.4 (Get iPhone apps on your iPod Touch) update!

    • Blip dude

      iOS wasn’t necessarily free. Up until iOS 4, iPod touch users had to pay $5-$10 for iPhone OS updates. I remember that eventually iPad user would have to pay for OS updates as well, before Apple confirmed that iOS was going “free for all.”

  • mehrab

    Ilife is actually very beautiful powerful and simple to use and free. Office is overpriced powerful in its own way , is kinda ugly and paid

  • troothseekers

    hey Ed Sutherland,
    does it stink as bad up your a$$ as your article here? thought you’d know since you have your head so far up where the sun don’t shine, you’ve lost touch with all reality and, sadly, common sense.

    tell me something: if you had to write a really important paper or make a spreadsheet or a powerpoint presentation, would you use Office or rely on Apple’s “productivity suite”?

    also, i didn’t know you were a licensed psychiatrist too, claiming to see through Microsoft’s “nervousness and insecurities”.

    frankly, you’re sort of an imbecile, judging from the tone of this article; and you should stay away from writing on these matters, unless you clearly label them as opinion pieces on top, for the benefit of the site’s readers.

    • iThinkergoiMac

      Ironically, I used iWork all through college once I got a Mac, which was the last two years or so. I graduated almost 4 years ago. I had Office on my Mac in case I ran into compatibility issues, but I never did so I just plugged along merrily in iWork. It really is a great piece of software, though the current update is long overdue.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t deny that MS Office is THE de facto standard for productivity in this manner. That’s mostly because of the high adoption rate rather than anything else. To actually use Word is generally OK, but sometime frightening. Word has so many features it’s sometimes difficult to find the one you want. Excel is super powerful, but Numbers is easier to use and does almost as much for the average user.

      Will iWork ever replace Office in the office? Doubtful unless you have an all-Mac setup. However, for every day use at home where you don’t need all of the advanced features of Office? It’s great.

      Also, Keynote presentations completely outclass Powerpoint. It’s far easier to set up and execute. The only thing I don’t recommend is converting from one to the other as that hardly ever works out well. But if you have the ability to use Keynote for your presentation, there’s absolutely no reason to choose Powerpoint instead.

    • TesticularFortitude

      “tell me something: if you had to write a really important paper or make a spreadsheet or a powerpoint presentation, would you use Office or rely on Apple’s “productivity suite”?”

      Every paper that I wrote and every PowerPoint that I created while in college was created with iWork. In fact, UT offered classes that gave every student iPads and encouraged us to use iWork.

    • John Sklikas

      Ok just saying, my Extended Essay, a 4000 words research that takes over 8 months since its first stages was fully written in Pages. So sorry, Pages on the Mac is an excellent productivity suite and does the same things as Word with maybe a few exceptions for which I couldn’t care less (in fact I don’t even know if such differences exist). But I agree, this article was amazingly biased!

    • Anon Ymous

      …Really, dude? Every paper that I’ve written, every slideshow I’ve made has been with Pages or Keynote. They are in no way underpowered, unless you mean uncluttered. Hurling insults at Ed isn’t going to make any difference, either, except for getting the good majority of an APPLE NEWS SITE pissed at you.

    • Reader

      Everyone give this man a round of applause for speaking truth about this steaming pile of dog shit passed off as an article.

      Really, Ed Sutherland? I know you’re biased and ignorant but I must admit your tone made me a little sick in the mouth. I’ll take this opportunity to include Christian Zibreg and Cody Lee in this circle of awful writers.

      I’m not even going to address the ignoramuses who actually believe iWork holds a candle to Office. These people are talking out of their asses, just like Ed Sutherland did with this atrocity.

      Good day gentlemen.

  • omrishtam

    microsoft attacks too much on iWork…..means they are afraid of it. yeah, even 15 y/o kid can figure it out 😛

  • Macdemon

    iWork has been consistently been voted the BEST office productivity suite on ANT mobile device, so yeah, it IS a big deal Microsoft, and it’s now FREE. 🙂

    Jealousy Jealousy Jealousy. 🙂

    • Guest

      BSing yet again?

  • Youssef Sami

    Jealousy has a tough grip on Microsoft! HA!! Look at the facts, guys… Mac users are simply much “happier” with their computers and software. Windows and Office may’ve gotten ahead at first with the adoption rates but are the users actually “happy” just sitting at an office using the dull Windows interface? Users get excited to see their lives getting better when they buy a new Mac, or an iPhone… or an iPad… or even an Apple TV for that matter!! I feel sorry for Microsoft but also truly excited for what Apple is going to deliver for us next!!

  • gittlopctbi

    Oh, really…I don’t care about this public corporate snipping and cat fighting. In terms of the big picture, it makes no difference. Just produce a great product for a fair price and you’ll both make money.

  • SEAUte

    In my opinion:

    Keynote > Powerpoint. Presentations looks so much more professional

    Pages = Word. Sure word has more features but Pages does everything I need it to.

    Excel > Number. Until Apple makes numbers for hardcore excel users, excel will always be better. There are too many formulas and data analysis options that numbers is missing that excel has.

    SO for me, which program I use depends on what I am working on. Usually it will be Keynote and Excel with word processing dependent on which app I happen to open

  • dialogueanalog

    Apple never said they had the best number crunchers, presentation makers or word processors. Windows is the one being really defensive and Apple is laughing that something so trivial is making such huge waves. The problem is that Microsoft are underestimating Apple again. Remember when Bulmer said that the iPhone is not going to do well (or words to that effect) or when he said that the ipad is just a big iphone and there is no market for it.

    Before they know it, Apple might…(read MIGHT) start matching MS with their work processors.

  • Yujin

    The thing is for most people iWork is good enough. Think of the millions of students that will get an ipad, MacBook or iPhone that can now use the iWork for free not to mention the availability online. Sorry that Microsoft over price software is way too much for most people.

    This gotta hurt bad at Microsoft and being in denial is what Microsoft does best until it is too late.

  • JulianZH

    I wish it’s free for my iphone 5 🙁

  • M Last

    not big deal?
    yeee… big deal is windows for $199
    Microsoft the same does as Nokia did

  • n0ahcruz3

    MS is just butt hurt right now. If only they would offer office without a subscription fee.

    • xSeriouSx

      They do have that…you’ll just have to go beyond their office home page to find it.

  • NSA

    iWork and iLife software free “no big deal”…I think few years from now Apple’s applications or Google will beat Microsoft office and other products ..Same thing happened when Apple introduced iPhone back in 2007 Steve Ballmer was laughing on the iPhone, and now the iPhone profits ALONE more than Microsoft profits

  • NSA

    Microsoft products are really expensive, especially outside the US

  • n0ahcruz3

    Apple and MS should worry more about Google. They are cooking up something.

  • H5ire

    iOS 7 icons looks like clipart with colors.!!
    iOS 6 – True Design.!!

  • NSA

    iWork and iLife software free “no big deal”. same thing happened when Steve Ballmer was laughing on the very first iPhone. Now the iPhone profits ALONE is more than Microsoft profits.

  • Roland Adi Nugraha

    why buy office if you could afford iWork for FREEE

  • Eddie Sheerr

    Microsoft’s thought on the iPhone: “No big deal.”