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Microsoft Office is the Most Requested Tablet App

When Apple CEO Tim Cook said this week that web browsing was the number one activity performed by iPad users (after dodging their credit card companies, of course), I was curious how that could be given the platform’s oft-cited 275,000 apps. But it turns out that quality does matter more than quantity, and the one app that iPad users can’t get is the one they want most of all: Microsoft Office.

“Microsoft Office is the most important software feature to consider when purchasing a tablet, especially for first-time purchasers,” Morgan Stanley Research writes in its Tablet Landscape Evolution report. “61 percent of prospective tablet purchasers indicated that Office was the most important software feature vs. 44 percent for current tablet owners—which suggests there may be pent up demand for a tablet offering with a prepackaged Office bundle.”

The addition of Office to tablet changes the usage of that device dramatically, Morgan Stanley claims. Without Office, iPads and other tablets are basically just consumption devices used for reading, web browsing, and watching videos. Add Office, however, and the tablet becomes a full-featured productivity solution good for both consumers and businesses.

Not coincidentally, Windows RT is the first mainstream Windows version to include a full-featured Office productivity suite, Office Home & Student 2013. (Yes, Windows CE, Pocket PC/Windows Mobile, and Windows Phone all include more limited Office versions too. Don’t write in.) And this, Morgan Stanley says, could help Microsoft make Windows 8/RT the second-biggest tablet seller after iPad but ahead of Android.

“Consumers, especially those considering their first tablet purchase, believe Microsoft Office is a key feature [for a tablet], suggesting Windows 8 with Office could overtake Android as the second largest platform in the tablet market,” the report notes.

There’s a lot of data in Morgan Stanley’s Tablet Landscape Evolution, not all of which is necessary good news for Microsoft. (Pricing is a good example.) But the Office bit is interesting and jibes with what I’ve always said about the iPad, which is that many users were simply holding off because of this one key missing feature.

But hey, at least they can browse the web.

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