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Apple is selling Microsoft Office 365 as an accessory for the iPad Pro

Apple is selling Microsoft Office 365 as an accessory for the iPad Pro

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Apple wants the iPad Pro to replace Windows, and to convince customers it's bringing in a familiar face or two: Microsoft's Office Suite. As part of the ordering process for the new iPad Pro, buyers are given the option of adding a subscription for Office 365 — the only non-Apple accessory to appear in the order form. Office 365 bundles in the mobile apps and full Mac versions of a number of old standbys, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. (You can also choose between the Home, Personal, and University tiers, each of which offers different features.)

Apple is giving space to an iWork rival

It's a slightly unexpected move for Apple, not just because the company has its own iWork suite, but because Microsoft offers pretty full-featured free versions of its iOS Office apps. (Well, they're free on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro; you have to pay to use them on the larger iPad, as Microsoft restricts free use to screens smaller than 10.1-inches.) The option to subscribe to Office 365 also appears when you're ordering the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 2, or iPad mini 4, so it's possible that Apple dropped this into its checkout process before this week.

The option to buy an Office 365 subscription on the iPad Pro's order form.

But if Apple really wants to take sales away from Microsoft (and some estimates suggest the iPad Pro is selling better than the Surface Pro) then it can't afford not to offer customers everything they feel they might need for getting work done. And thanks to a combination of many factors, including inertia, Office is still the gold standard for productivity. Apple's Phil Schiller may describe the existence of over 600 million five-year-old-plus PCs as "really sad," but the company needs to offer some of the PC's familiar programs if it wants customers to move on.