Microsoft Job Ad Hints at Office Version for Apple Devices

Microsoft is running a job listing on its site seeking developers who can adapt Office to run on Apple Mac OS X and the iOS operating systems, fueling new speculation that Office will run on iPads.

Microsoft is apparently looking for a few good programmers to design Microsoft Office to run on Apple products, as a recently spotted job listing on a Microsoft site suggests.

Rumors have been bouncing around various tech news Websites for months, including eWEEK, that Microsoft and Apple are close to an agreement on developing a version of the Office suite to run on the iOS operating system that powers iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch devices. Speculation resurfaced in May that Office would come to iOS as well as the Google Android OS for various brands of smartphones and tablets.

Now, a job listing on a Microsoft Website for a software development engineer at its Silicon Valley campus in Mountain View, Calif., has added impetus to the speculation that Microsoft wants to get Office running on new platforms. The ad seeks someone to work on a software development team there "on the design, implementation and testing of new feature work to be part of Microsoft's next move on the Mac and on iOS."

Asked for comment, a Microsoft spokesperson responded via email that Office Mobile is available currently on Apple iOS, Android and, of course, Microsoft Windows Phone 7.

The Office applications Lync and OneNote are available on the Apple iOS platform, but as to the speculation about the job listing and the availability of the whole Office suite for iOS, she stated, "The job description posted was simply seeking skills necessary to advance these applications and Office for Mac."

That statement, however, contradicts the wording of the ad, which refers to "Microsoft's next move on the Mac and on iOS." Asked for clarification, the spokeswoman emailed, "We are always working on future releases of our applications."

The ad specifically mentions PowerPoint, the application for creating presentations, one of many applications in the Office suite, along with Excel, Exchange, Outlook and Word. The ad seeks someone with "hands-on experience with Mac OS X development technologies" and "knowledge and experience with Microsoft Office for the Mac." Office has long been available for Macs, but not iOS devices. Instead, iPad users have third-party apps available to them in the App Store to run Office apps on an Apple iOS device, such as DataViz's Documents to Go or QuickOffice, which was recently acquired by Google.

Also, the new Office 2013, a customer preview version of which was unveiled July 16, includes a number of cloud-based applications that would be delivered through a Web browser, including Safari.

The Microsoft spokesperson said that when Office 2013 is released this fall, it will include an update to Office for Mac 2011. "With this update, Office for Mac licenses can count as part of your Office 365 Home Premium subscription," she wrote in an email. An Office 365 subscription allows end users on up to five devices to use the cloud-delivered software suite.

The idea of Office 2013 on iOS devices presents a conundrum for Microsoft. On the one hand, offering Office on iOS-and Android-devices could expand sales of the popular Microsoft productivity suite. On the other, if Office is available on those competing platforms, that's one less reason for someone to buy a tablet running Windows 8, including Microsoft's coming Surface tablet.

Editor's Note: This story was updated with additional comment from a Microsoft spokesperson.