The real reason the "official" Microsoft Office for iOS doesn't matter for enterprises

Okay, so Microsoft finally released a version of Microsoft Office for iOS. Sure, the reviews claim that it sucks compared to other third-party office suites, and sure, it requires a $100-per-year Office 365 subscription to get it, but in reality neither of these things matter.

Okay, so Microsoft finally released a version of Microsoft Office for iOS. Sure, the reviews claim that it sucks compared to other third-party office suites, and sure, it requires a $100-per-year Office 365 subscription to get it, but in reality neither of these things matter. Right now due to the way the enterprise mobility management world works, the Microsoft Office suite is irrelevant to the vast majority of enterprise users.

Why? Because the Microsoft Office app doesn't integrate into existing enterprise file sync products like Citrix ShareFile, VMware Horizon Data, Box, WatchDox, etc. It only integrates into SkyDrive.

Why is this a problem? One of the biggest concerns corporations have with mobile file sync products like Dropbox is that they easily enable data to "leak" outside of the organization. The way companies address that is to use Dropbox-like mobile file syncing software which have additional DRM features to prevent users from copying files out of the corporate file syncing client. On a mobile device this means that either (1) the file syncing app itself has document editing capabilities or (2) there has to be a secure MAM-enabled connection between the file syncing client and the document editor to ensure that the corporation can trust the app that's editing the document. (Confused? Read my primer on the differences between MDM, MAM, and MIM, or pick up Jack' Madden's book "Enterprise Mobility Management.")

In other words, when you buy a corporate-focused file syncing product, the file syncing vendor has either licensed, OEMed, or written a secure document editor for editing files on mobile devices. Unfortunately if you buy the Microsoft Office suite for iOS, it can only open files from Microsoft SkyDrive. But no corporation uses the public SkyDrive since there is no DRM built into it and your files are stored in Microsoft's public cloud.

So from a practical standpoint, there is actually no way an enterprise can use the Microsoft Office app for iOS. Their users simply won't be able to access any of their files. (And if the files are in the public SkyDrive, then the company will be in violation of many regulatory policies around enforcement of knowing where their data is and who's accessed it from what devices.)

So while a lot of people are saying that Office for iOS is a #fail because its features are lame or that it's a #fail because it's only available via an expensive subscription, for enterprises it's a #fail because you can't use it to access documents in corporate-focused data sync products.

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