The Failure of Office as a Selling Point

This post is less about the failure of the Surface RT, which is academic at this point, and more about the failure of Office as a selling point. From the very beginning, the primary differentiator of the Surface from the iPad is that it, alone, runs Office. It is the only "consumption" tablet with that distinction. This is not a small, esoteric distinction. This is the crown jewels. This is the thing on which Microsoft is based: Windows running Office. Surface didn't just have the ability to run Office, it came with a free copy. If this is truly what people wanted, it should have flown off the shelves the moment people heard about it. It didn't. Why?

To this day, it is uncertain if Microsoft will ever make a usable version of Office for any other platform. They seem to want to keep it as a competitive advantage for their tablets. That's fine. But in order for a thing to be a competitive advantage, it has to provide some measurable advantage over the competition. Even if it could be said that everyone who bought a Surface RT did so because of Office, it still cannot be described as an advantage when it comes to sales. The niche of people who bought the Surface RT for that reason, even if it is all of them, is just too small to matter.

Either very few people know that the Surface RT has Office, and are therefore, not buying it, or people know about the Office integration, but just don't care for Office, or people who buy tablets, generally do not want to do the sort of things that require Office.

I'm pretty sure that people know about it. Microsoft has not been shy about pushing the Office angle in their ads. I suspect that most people just don't care. Enterprise is overwhelmingly adopting iPads over Windows tablets. And they most certainly know and don't care about the Office issue. Finally, RT's messaging is mixed. It is supposed to be the tablet for people who just want a Window's branded, consumption device. Well, such people are not looking for ways to write 200 page spreadsheets on the go.

Whatever the reason, Office has failed to be a selling point for Microsoft in the post-PC/PC plus era.