iPad Air To Include Free iWork, iLife Software. Microsoft Responds With Oranges

Apple during its iPad Air launch event announced that it's new iPad will arrive with free copies of iWork and iLife software. In response to that announcement Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw penned a blog post Wednesday which makes fun of the move. The post titled "Apple and oranges" makes fun of Apple's lack of customer enthusiasm for the iWork platform.

In his post Shaw writes: "Since iWork has never gotten much traction, and was already priced like an afterthought, it's hardly that surprising or significant a move. And it doesn't change the fact that it's much harder to get work done on a device that lacks precision input and a desktop for true side-by-side multitasking."

Both the iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display feature a free copy of iWork, an obvious attempt by Apple to convert users over to its own software. Similar moves have not gone over well with Apple customers. When Apple attempted to switch users over to Apple Maps millions of users waited for Google Maps to arrive before taking advantage of their iPhone's mapping software.

Apple does have one nice advantage going for it, iWork lets users collaborate with other people in the cloud and share and work on files in the Pages, Keynote, and Numbers apps.

Apple is hoping that with millions of potential iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display buyers lining up they can take on Google Docs and Microsoft's Office 365 platform. iWork will be free for buyers of new Macs or iOS devices for an undisclosed amount of time.

Microsoft already offers the Surface and Surface 2 tablets with a free Office installation. Shaw writes:

"Surface and Surface 2 both include Office, the world's most popular, most powerful productivity software, for free and are priced below both the iPad 2 and iPad Air respectively. Making Apple's decision to build the price of their less popular and less powerful iWork into their tablets not a very big (or very good) deal."

After Windows the tech giant makes a large chunk of its revenue from productivity apps for which it will continue to push upon customers. To that extent Shaw ends with a simple challenge to Apple and its other competitors:

"When I see Apple drop the price of their struggling, lightweight productivity apps, I don't see a shot across our bow. I see an attempt to play catch up. I think they, like others, are waking up to the fact that we've built a better solution for people everywhere, who are getting things done from anywhere, and who don't have hard lines between their personal and professional lives. People who want a single, simple, affordable device with the power and flexibility to enhance and support their whole day."

Do you think Apple iWork, offered for free, can help Apple steal away some of Microsoft's long-standing Office customer base? It sure has worked well for Google and its free Google Docs online productivity suite.