He's not concerned about the competition from iPad-specific apps either, because he believes they won't be ready for whatever the next popular device is. "I think it's crazy to think any device paradigm will last for ever in a world where the design paradigms we work with for productivity have changed so drastically over just in the last five years.
Five years ago, we did not have iPads in the workplace and we did not have 82" capacitive touch screens in conference rooms, but we have both of those now and we need productivity experiences to span all of those. And as device form factors and experiences change, we need Office to be able to adapt to those so users can have a great experience everywhere.
For anybody to think about building something just for iPad is to miss the opportunity to deliver a great experience on what is next. We are both well positioned [for that] as well as we understand that Office needs to evolve with the industry - and in some cases it will lead the industry. We'll take it to new form factors and devices first and some of those will be things like Surface and PPI boards."
Imagine working on a whiteboard in a meeting and as you leave, taking a photo of it in the new Office Lens that's in OneNote on iPad (as well as on Windows Phone) which processes it to get the perspective correct. "You take picture of the whiteboard and have it reoriented and flattened and the colours bolded and you send it to OneNote. Then you walk into a room that has a PPI board and you open OneNote you open that whiteboard image and you just carry on working." You can do the same thing with a piece of paper and OneNote using the new LiveScribe pen.
What's next for office on mobile devices?
Having Office on all devices is broader than just the usual tablets then, but obviously it's Android that everyone is wondering about next. CEO Satya Nadella didn't name any other devices when he talked about having Office on all phones and tablets, but White suggested Android and Windows RT are both on the list. "iPad is important of course but people aren't just using iPad, they're using all kinds of devices and that's what's awesome with Office. I don't have this patchwork quilt of productivity in my life, I can have that same familiar experience and I know I can count on things working consistently across them. Today it's iPad, in the future we'll bring that to other devices."
And what about the touch version of Office promised for Windows RT? "We're going to absolutely bring those to the Windows Store," White confirmed, "you'll see at Build next week some more examples of that, so stay tuned.
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Mary (Twitter, Google+, website) started her career at Future Publishing, saw the AOL meltdown first hand the first time around when she ran the AOL UK computing channel, and she's been a freelance tech writer for over a decade. She's used every version of Windows and Office released, and every smartphone too, but she's still looking for the perfect tablet. Yes, she really does have USB earrings.