Microsoft, Please Update Office for Windows Phone

Dear Microsoft,

It’s Clinton, that former MVP that has returned to Windows Phone after three years in the iOS wilderness.  I’m happy to be back thanks.  I’ve enjoyed connected with old friends and being back on a platform that I love.  It’s great to see how much it has grown up in the last three years and the amount of productivity I have now with my phone compared to a few years ago is in stark contrast.

There is one area though that the difference between iOS and Windows Phone remains and it is painful.  That is Office for Windows Phone.  My Microsoft friends, it is horrific.  Not to the scale of Office for Mac horrific but pretty close.  It is so limiting – so ultimately useless many times – that it is the single set of apps that I miss on my iPad.  As I put in my Windows Phone app gap article a few days ago, generally I can find anything I need for Windows Phone these days and in fact Office for Windows Phone comes built into my Lumia 1320.  But it is such a painful experience that even when I want do a quick edit to a Word document or PowerPoint, I end up lugging out the laptop.  It shouldn’t be this way.

I have to say that the Office for iPad experience is outstanding.  Word, PowerPoint and Excel all work flawlessly and you have tirelessly been updating these apps with new and improved features.  It’s great to see, really it is.  Even as I look at Office 2013 as part of my Office 365 account on my PC, it is beautiful.  It’s easy to use, intuitive and just works.

That Office for iPad experience is what I so desperately want and need on my Windows Phone.  Sure I appreciate that even on my 6″ displayed Lumia 1320 that the UI would need to change and there would be differences.  I’m not talking so much about that but the underlying functionality of Office for Windows Phone.  And really, I think you’ll agree that what I’m asking for is pretty basic.

My first ask is that you support Office 2013 file types.  Imagine my shock when I discovered, painfully at the time, that I couldn’t edit a file I created in Word 2013 on my Windows Phone.  Seriously?  I have to have it in Office 2010 format?  That’s just wrong.  There are a lot of really cool tidbits in Office 2013 that aren’t there in 2010 and it really is a limiter in my day-to-day use of my phone.

Secondly, I work with a lot of sensitive files that are password protected.  Opening files that are like this in Office for Windows Phone can be done fine but I can’t edit them.  I can only view them.  If I drop the file type down to Office 2010 format I can edit them…. but I lose the ability to password protect them.  Huh?

Now before you go down the path of “you are comparing iPad to Windows Phone.  They are different form factors” discussion, let’s set the ground level.  I know that there are a lot of the same limitations for Office for iPhone and for Android.  It is, seemingly, the same basic app recompiled.  So in this case it isn’t just Windows Phone that needs some lovin’.  iPhone does too.

I guess what I’m asking for here Microsoft is a refresh of the app in its entirety.  In fact, I would even go as far as to say I’d be happy if there were separate apps for Word, PowerPoint and Excel on my Windows Phone just as there is on my PC and just as there were on my iPad.  And my I go a step further and suggest that I would be willing to pay for them too?  I’m not sure if others would but I would.  Sure if you want to add those to my Office 365 account I’d be really happy but in my own little way I’m willing to help fund the project to update Office for Windows Phone.

Thanks for listening Microsoft and taking the time to read my open letter.  I do hope that changes to Office for Windows Phone are coming soon.  I’m all for your support of other ecosystems but it would be great to have my Windows Phone on par with the competition.