Microsoft Madness: Are licensing cuts, Office for iPad a slam dunk?

As March Madness winds down, learn what Microsoft and other enterprise mobility vendors delivered this past month.

Over the past month, IT pros have gotten more options for mobile content management with new players making a name for themselves. But those companies aren't about to upset the major competition; Microsoft, Box and Dropbox have some significant news of their own.

The mobile content management space is ever-changing as enterprise mobility management (EMM) vendors get acquired and IT pros search for alternatives to consumer-oriented tools like Dropbox. One of those choices includes Microsoft's OneDrive, which the company updated this month by making OneDrive for Business a standalone product. It also announced the long-awaited Office for iPad, in addition to an enterprise mobility management suite that could pull customers away from EMM alternatives. And another EMM vendor, AirWatch, left customers wondering what will happen to their product support long after its acquisition by VMware Inc.

Read more of the news from March in this recap, and see what IT pros on Twitter had to say about the biggest stories of the month.

Office for iPad is finally here

Microsoft prioritized the enterprise last week with the launch of Office for iPad, in addition to a new enterprise mobility management suite. Some organizations may be wary of the Office 365 requirement, but it might convince Microsoft-heavy shops to invest in 365, experts said. Twitter lit up with IT pros touting the app and what it means for Apple:

Windows 8.1 licensing cuts don't impress

Microsoft lowered Windows 8.1 pricing for sub-$250 devices, but IT pros aren't sure the cuts will spur growth in North America's Windows 8 device market. It's difficult for the company to compete with Google Inc.'s Android and Apple Inc.'s iOS devices, experts said, especially when there's no "royalty payment" for using those systems.

Microsoft offers Office Graph, updates OneDrive

Microsoft also introduced Office Graph this month, a developer-centric tool for social collaboration based on technology acquired from Yammer. The offering shows Microsoft's push for social in the cloud, experts said, and the company took another step further into the cloud with OneDrive for Business. The former SkyDrive Pro product will now be a standalone offering outside of Office 365 and SharePoint Online plans, and it represents yet another enterprise alternative to Dropbox-like products.

Mobile content management and cloud collaboration heats up

Organizations looking for alternatives to Box, Dropbox and Google Drive can now turn to vendors such as AirWatch and Good Technology for mobile content management. Even non-EMM providers, such as Acronis, are coming out of the woodwork. The problem is, none of these vendors have nailed the ability to offer a full enterprise mobility management suite just yet, analysts said.

In other cloud collaboration news, Box will release an API usage-based platform pricing option for enterprise developers building apps on Box. With the new Box View capability, the company will also deliver cloud-based PDF and Microsoft Office documents in HTML at high resolution on the Web and on mobile devices.

As for Dropbox, the company recently acquired Zulip, a workplace chat software startup, to add to its enterprise lineup. It also hinted at the future release of "two Dropboxes" on its website, so users can access one for personal use and one for work. That's something users have long been looking for:

AirWatch customers in limbo after VMware deal

AirWatch customers still don't know what will become of the company's products after being acquired by VMware, but their hope is that VMware won't change the offerings too much. AirWatch CEO John Marshall and VMware executives spoke about the integration possibilities at a VMware End-User Computing event for analysts in Boston on March 21, but attendees couldn't share the dirty details just yet.

VMware General Manager of End-User Computing Sanjay Poonen also told attendees that the AirWatch acquisition reinforces the company's dedication to EUC.

Have Surface tablets found their niche in healthcare?

Adoption of Microsoft Surface has been underwhelming, but the tablet may have found a solid use case in healthcare environments. Those companies like the Surface because they're already using Windows applications, the training is easy, and many are drawn to the digitized pen for note-taking.

Apple releases iOS 7.1

Apple released a new version of iOS in March with updates to Siri, iTunes Radio, the calendar feature, and other bug fixes for home screen and Safari crashes.

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