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Apple Killed Microsoft: The Media Buried the Lede

NEW YORK ( TheStreet ) -- Given Microsoft's (MSFT - Get Report) global Windows- and Office-installed base, it sounds a bit nutty to claim Apple (AAPL - Get Report) killed it on Tuesday, Sept. 10. But it did.

We're in the early stages of a BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report)-like crash that, instead of taking a few years, could span decades. But it will happen.

First, there's the obvious -- Microsoft can't compete with Apple (or Google (GOOG - Get Report), for that matter) on smartphones or tablets. We're at the point where the notion of mobile competition between the companies has become farcical.

Microsoft and Nokia (NOK - Get Report)made absolute fools of themselves after Apple introduced its new iPhones on Tuesday. They tweeted these ads:

Just an idiotic continuation of what we'll now know as the combined collapse of Microsoft and Nokia. Put your head down and keep your mouth shut, especially if you're Microsoft.

But the lead the media buried as it focused on the new iPhones matters more.

I'm not sure Steve Ballmer realizes just how big this is. But he'd better take a look, because there was a time when the demise of the BlackBerry sounded like a crazy prediction.

Apple will offer iWork, its productivity suite, free to buyers of all new iPhones and iPads. And don't be surprised if Apple keeps upping the ante, particularly by making Pages (its version of MS Word), Numbers (Excel) and Keynote (Power Point) better and better across platforms.

I first brought up this idea in October 2012, when I suggested Apple should improve iWork to render Office unnecessary and irrelevant to consumers and enterprises who have flocked (or desperately want to flock) to iPhones, iPads and Macs.

Apple should give iWork away for free. Everywhere. Every way. On everything. Not only could it crush Microsoft Office, but it will fend off Google's push to extend the reach of its cloud-based software and services.

Apple doesn't need to profit on iWork. It just needs to make iWork so good and so accessible, that it eliminates the one remaining factor that differentiates Microsoft from Apple, and keeps millions of individuals and businesses hooked on PCs they're hardly excited about being forced to buy.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.

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