Elop will bring Office to Apple, Google if named Microsoft CEO

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Elop will bring Office to Apple, Google if named Microsoft CEO
Stephen Elop

Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop would change Microsoft's longstanding strategy of using Office as a lure for Windows PC and mobile device sales if he's named to replace the departing Steve Ballmer as chief executive, Bloomberg reported Friday.

Elop, who is said to be on a shortlist of five candidates to become Microsoft's next chief executive, thinks Microsoft could make more money by selling Office apps for Apple and Google devices than by using Office to drive Windows device sales, according to Bloomberg, which quoted three anonymous sources "with knowledge of his thinking".

Elop, who used to oversee Office as head of Microsoft's Business Division, certainly had plenty of exposure to the internal roadblocks to Microsoft porting Office to other platforms. In April 2009, Elop hinted at a coming version of Office for the iPhone, but one didn't materialise until more than four years later.

When Microsoft's Office For iPhone app launched in June on the App Store, it came with strings attached. It's a free app that requires an active Office 365 Home Premium subscription, which costs $100 (A$107) per user annually.

Microsoft has been touting Office on Windows Phones, Surface tablets and third-party Windows 8 tablets to lure business users who need to get work done on their devices. If Elop came in and removed these longstanding business barriers to make Office available to everyone, that would be a major shift.

Apple offers its iWork suite of apps for free, but Microsoft's Mac business unit, founded as part of the $150 million investment it made in Apple in 1997, has the design sensibility and expertise to build an Office for iOS that people would pay for.

Microsoft spokesperson Frank Shaw dismissed the accuracy of the report with a dash of sarcasm. "We appreciate Bloomberg's foray into fiction and look forward to future episodes," he told Bloomberg.

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