Too Little, Too Late

Steve Ballmer is trying to reassure nervous Wall Street types about his company's plans:

Speaking about "upside opportunities" that exist for Microsoft, Ballmer talked about porting products to non-Windows platforms. "We don't have our heads in the sand," he said during the company's meeting with financial analysts, which was held in a Bellevue, Washington convention center and webcast live.

In this context Microsoft is "working on everything that you think we should be working on," Ballmer said.

Windows is the preferred platform for Microsoft applications and remains supremely important, but executives have less "religion" than people think and keep their "eyes wide open" with regards to the opportunities for generating additional revenue by porting products like Office to other platforms, he said.

To be sure, Ballmer didn't refer specifically to Office for iOS and Android, but it seemed clear that this is what he had in mind, since this issue has been a constant source of criticism for the company, which is leaving a lot of money on the table by not offering full, native versions of Office for the Apple and Google mobile OSes.

iWork is now free with all new iOS devices, and dirt cheap for old ones. Google just made Quickoffice free to anyone with a Google account. And now Ballmer thinks it's somehow reassuring to drop some hints that Office is coming to other platforms soonish-ish?

Let me ask you something, fellow smartphone and tablet users. When you've been using Office-level mobile apps for cheap, or free, for years, what's the incentive to pay Microsoft for something at some unspecified date in the future?