Microsoft has an uphill battle on its hands. Apple’s iPad owns 80% of the market. The other 20 % belongs to Samsung’s Galaxy offerings, Google’s Nexus 7, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, etc. and etc.  The market floor is littered with also-rans and products that got off the launch-pad – like HP’s TouchPad – but were aborted in mid-flight.

With the advent of the touch-centric Windows 8 operating system and the Surface tablet range, Microsoft is going to have to come out swinging if they want to have a decent chance of making a significant dent in the market, let alone Apple’s iPad behemoth. Of course, there are Microsoft loyalists who face Redmond twice a day in prayer just as there are Apple Loyalists who face Cupertino and threaten jihad against anyone who suggests that even a few i-Products may be behind the technological curve. To be sure, those hard-core loyalists will help to boost sale of the Surface tables when the first one makes its debut a month from now but what about the long-term? Geek.com suggests that one of Microsoft’s secret weapons could be the ubiquitous MS Office.

Redmond has already announced that they will release a version of Office 13 that will run on the Surface RT which is based on the ARM processor platform. This is a good thing because at the moment, RT-compatible apps are few and far between. The RT version of Office 13 will be a tablet-optomised version of the Home & Student edition that contains Word, Excel, Power Point and OneNote, the greatest little application that you’ve probably never even heard of.  To the continuing chagrin of all who purchase Home & Student, this version does not include the indispensable Outlook application and that tradition will continue with Office RT. Whether there will be a RT compatible version of Outlook available as a separate purchase remains to be seen.

Office RT will come bundled with the Surface RT tablet and will not be available as a stand-alone product. As to whether or not this is a good thing, only time will tell. However, a tablet that already comes with most of the features from the world’s most popular office suite could well give Microsoft a competitive edge amongst new tablet purchasers as well as those who have been sitting on the fence waiting for a truly viable iPad alternative to come along. We’ll see in a little over a month.

Suggested Reading:

The article from Geek.com about the RT-Office combination

Microsoft’s Office blog which talks about Office-RT

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