Microsoft will ask Apple to approve a version of Office for the iPad, according to a Feb. 21 report in The Daily.
The online publication claimed a brief hands-on with a working prototype of the software. The apps user interface is similar to the current OneNote app, it suggested, but it has hints of Metro, the new design language that can be seen in Windows Phone and in the as-yet-released Windows 8 desktop operating system. An exact release date is unknown, although Microsoft has apparently finished the actual work.
The app enables the creation and editing of Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. According to unnamed sources speaking to The Daily, a version of Office for Android is not in the works.
A Microsoft spokesperson later told The New York Times that The Daily's report was "inaccurate" and that it had no further comment.
Office on tablets is clearly Microsofts next big area of focus. Earlier in February, the company revealed that a new version of Office software will run on Windows on ARM (WOA), the architecture that powers many of todays tablets. Within the Windows desktop, WOA includes desktop versions of the new Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, code-named Office 15, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsofts Windows and Windows Live division, wrote in a Feb. 9 posting on the corporate Building Windows 8 blog. WOA will be a no-compromise product for people who want to have the full benefits of familiar Office productivity software and compatibility.
WOA will debut with the upcoming Windows 8, expected sometime in the latter half of 2012. If Microsoft had chosen to restrict a tablet-friendly version of Office to Windows 8, that might have created an additional selling point for the platform, especially for business users. On the other hand, if The Dailys report proves accurate, and a full-fledged version of Office for the iPad is indeed heading for release, then Microsoft will open up a potentially massive revenue stream. (These sorts of decisions are why they pay CEOs immense amounts of money.)
Office or not, Windows 8 and Apples iPad are set to battle one another for tablet market share. The question is whether Windows, having been the dominant operating system on traditional PCs for so long, can make a name for itself in a segment dominated for years by iOS.