Microsoft's corporate VP of communications, Frank Shaw, took to the internet to extol the virtues of the free Office 2013 application suite on the company's newly announced Surface 2 (and the existing Surface), with a quick dig at Apple's decision to bundle iWork for free on its devices.

Writing on TechNet, Shaw unashamedly says that Microsoft's Surface and Surface 2 are the most productive tablets "you can buy today" which is why, he adds, "competitors take notice".

Apple offers the iWork application suite with all its Mac and iOS devices for zilch (its component apps were sold for $19.99 (£12.99, about US$21) each prior to that).

Business time

In comparison, Microsoft threw in what amounts to its Office 2013 Home and Business suite, one that carries a suggested retail price of £220 (around AU$370, US$355). Given that the original Surface costs £279 (US$349, AU$389) and the Surface 2 retails for £349 ($449, AU$529), this is an interesting perspective.

Shaw pointed out that Office is "the world's most popular, most powerful productivity software" and includes software that are generally considered as de-facto standards in their categories like Word, Excel, Outlook and Powerpoint.

It's noteworthy that he didn't mention that Office is also available for free on many traditional devices as well, either as a cut-down version (the now-discontinued Office 2010 Starter edition) or as the Home and Student 2013 edition, on all recently introduced 8-inch Windows 8 tablets (Lenovo Miix2, Toshiba Encore, Acer Iconia W4, Dell Venue 8 Pro & Asus Transformer Book T100).

Mismatched fight

In all honesty, Apple never actually meant for iWork to compete with Office. iWork is a remnant of the company's AppleWorks suite, née ClarisWorks, and Apple stopped selling it in August 2007. iWork, as a standalone product, was released in January 2009 and was frozen for nearly five years before the October 22 announcement.

During that hiatus, Microsoft killed Works, which was intended to be iWork's true competitor, so it is likely that Apple is giving away iWork with Google and cloud services in sight rather than Microsoft's Office.