Office for iPad has almost become a running gag as it has been rumored since the first iPad in 2010, and we still haven’t even come close to seeing it. There is Office Mobile for iPhone, which offers a document viewer, and very limited editing capabilities. It also requires an Office 365 subscription, which is either $9.99/month, or $99.99 for a year. The iPad has been left without Office, but there are plenty of alternatives, including Apple’s iWork suite. According to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft could release an iPad Office version as soon as it’s ready, which could be in the first half of 2014.
I hear Ballmer and the senior leaders of the company may have had a change of heart towards the end of last year. According to one of my contacts, Ballmer OK’d the suggestion by the Office team that they’d bring Office for iPad to market as soon as it was ready, even though that would likely mean before the Windows 8 version. I’m hearing that new date for Office for iPad is some time in the first half of calendar 2014. (My sources last summer were hearing Office for iPad wouldn’t debut until Fall 2014.)
If Microsoft gave the go ahead on such development plans, and the only barrier is finishing the program, and not approval, then we may actually see Office for iPad. It’s unclear if new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella could change the flow of product development. One interesting note is that if Microsoft were indeed able to release Office for iPad in the coming months, it would likely beat the release of a touch centric version made for Windows 8. Office for iPad could come in a number of different forms from a full productivity suite, to an app that resembles the iPhone version. It could be a standalone app, or reliant upon Office 365, and it may not have as big of an impact as Microsoft is hoping.
Microsoft needs to hurry regardless of the form Office for iPad takes, as millions have come to use an iPad without a reliance on Office. Is Microsoft already too late to the game?