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Craig Federighi, Senior VP of Software Engineering at Apple Inc speaks during Apple Inc's media event in Cupertino, California September 10, 2013. Apple announced it would include its iWork productivity suite in all new devices, free of charge.

STEPHEN LAM/Reuters

Given Microsoft's global Windows and Office-installed base, it sounds a bit nutty to claim Apple killed it on Tuesday, Sept. 10. But it did.

We're in the early stages of a BlackBerry-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, for that matter) on smartphones or tablets. We're at the point where the notion of mobile competition between the companies has become farcical.

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Microsoft and Nokia made absolute fools of themselves after Apple introduced its new iPhones on Tuesday and (@NokiaUS tweeted these ads: "Thanks, #Apple ;) Screen sizes, speed, and stunning snapshots. Those are our 5 S's. See why it's #timetoswitch to #WindowsPhone http://t.co/bMMiS3mv7S."

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 lede 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 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.

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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.

READERS: Can Apple replace everything you need from Office with a free version of iWork?

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