Microsoft Slams Apple, Says Making “Struggling” iWork Free is “Not a Very Big Deal”


Yesterday Apple announced its iLife and iWork suite of apps for the Mac and iOS were now free for eligible users, a move seen as putting pressure on Microsoft. Well, the latter has responded in a blog post titled “Apples & Oranges” to say Apple’s move is “not a very big deal” and that it’s just all part of the Apple ‘reality distortion field’ (RFD).

Frank Shaw, Corporate Vice President of Communications at Microsoft, had the following to say:

Seems like the RDF (Reality Distortion Field) typically generated by an Apple event has extended beyond Cupertino.

So let me try to clear some things up.

Note: If you are the TL;DR type, let me cut to the chase. Surface and Surface 2 both include Office, the world’s most popular, most powerful productivity software for free and are priced below both the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively. Making Apple’s decision to build the price of their less popular and less powerful iWork into their tablets not a very big (or very good) deal.

Shaw says the following three things make Surface “the most productive tablet you can buy today”:

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

Essentially he is calling out some of the media coverage today saying how Apple’s decision to make OS X Mavericks, iWork and iLife free isn’t going to affect Microsoft and the Surface tablet. Shaw says iWork was never popular anyways:

Now, since iWork has never gotten much traction, and was already priced like an afterthought, it’s hardly that surprising or significant a move. 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.

The VP of communications concludes “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.”

Interesting stuff, right? The original Surface RT tablet was so revolutionary and popular, Microsoft had to end up taking a $900 million write down on idle inventory. Does Microsoft have a point here or is this guy just angry and not thinking while writing this response while on a business trip in Abu Dhabi?


  • Vas

    I guess Microsoft hasn’t learned from their past mistakes on calling out Apple, i.e. Steve Ballard’s comments on the original iPhone comes to mind…

  • Candy Curl

    You know what would make his comments viable? (I’m hoping, hoping, hoping) If Microsoft would make the price of the Surface free to compete with Apple’s iPad. I mean it’s true that the IWork software is not even remotely as popular as MS Office, but come on, let’s face it, the same can be said ad infinitum about the Surface to iPad comparison.
    Make it free Shaw and then maybe I’ll get it….maybe

  • K4

    This is exactly what I was going to say. Thank you!

  • Matin

    surface is 10x better than ipad 2, ipad air or any other ipad just saying ! ipad is iOS vs surface which is full windows !

  • CyberAce

    Funny that the Microsoft blog itself is not open to comments. Or would that distort the reality distortion field that they have going.

    Speaking of RDF, reality is that we pay a license for windows with every PC/laptop – need it or not. Mavericks is free. RDF that Mickeysoft.

  • FragilityG4

    Free Office on a tablet that sits on the store shelf begging for someone to buy it … Sadly no one does …

  • FragilityG4

    Windows is a terrible OS.

  • Ouch!

  • Rainforest

    It’s Steve “Ballmer”.

  • K3

    Never heard of him or this Microsoft you speak of. Are they important or something?

  • K3

    This ad was brought to you by…

  • K3

    well I’ve been staring out mine for the last hour they’re not all that bad.

  • bionicmonk

    Yes, its full windows but its such a daft implementation that it nullifies all advantages of “full windows”. The menus don’t fit on the screen so you can’t see the “Apply/Cancel” buttons, its really cumbersome and weird to use, nothing makes sense, at all. Metro on the desktop ? Desktop on the tablet ? These things don’t mash. They simply don’t work. Period. Unless you’re an IT professional and you have all the time in the world to figure this shit out. Regular people don’t understand Windows 8. That’s the truth.

  • Farids

    What you or I claim about Surface or iPad is called a personal opinion. We live in a time when people use internet and online sources to obtain info and to research and make informed decisions when they are in the market to buy a device. The result is: the number of sold Surface and iPads determine which is a better product and has better software. I’m glad you can find a comment section in non-Microsoft blogs to make your 10X better claim and commercial!!

  • Skin Blues

    Apple makes the hardware, so the cost of the OS is built in. That was his main point. It’s not like a PC where you can buy the parts yourself from a third party and pick what OS you want to put on it, like Linux/Win7/Win8. The bickering about how popular the apps are was childish, but the main point remains.

  • Something that should scare the crap out of Microsoft is that a) Apple is giving their operating system away for free, and b) It’s getting easier and easier to create a Hackintosh desktop running OS X.

    If people can buy generic PC hardware, install a free, modern operating system and make their way into the Apple app ecosystem by that means, I fully believe Apple is beginning to welcome them with open arms. I have a Hackintosh along with iPhones, iPad and Apple TV and they all work pretty beautifully together. This is what should be keeping Microsoft up at night. Apple is making a full frontal assault on MS Office/Windows stronghold.

  • Sheldon

    What is this great desire for having “full windows” on a tablet? That’s
    almost as stupid as Windows 8 — having “full tablet on a desktop”. I’ve
    never seen any research that says people want to use their tablet
    exactly like they use their desktop or their desktop exactly like you
    use your tablet. If your tablet runs full windows so well, why not just
    throw out all your other computers and use it, instead. I had one of the
    first handheld portable Windows devices to hit the market. Completely
    useless. I just gave it away. Too slow and complicated. I don’t want to
    be able to create The Matrix on my tablet. I want it quick and simple.
    If you look at how most people use them, they want one that “just
    works”. Anything with Windows 8 on it is far, far from that. I never use
    my tablet to program on, edit video or audio, write a novel, or any
    other type of heavy data entry. For that I sit down at my 27″ iMac with
    dual display, 24TB of fast RAID 5 storage, full keyboard, touch pad,
    touch mouse, and various other input devices. Why the !@#$ would I ever use a tablet for that kind of stuff??

    Ya, surface is wonderful. Fancy (but useless) moving boxes for your kids to watch that only work with a handful of Microsoft apps and slaughter both your data plan and your battery. Brutal and basically useless apps for calendar, mail, etc. Full traditional multi-tasking so I can have everything running at once to kill all performance and my battery. I could go on, but my post is getting long. Microsoft even admits that Windows 8 was a whoops and cost them more in advertising than they made from it. Yay… I can run that full crap on my tablet!!