Microsoft’s venerable Office suite may finally be heading to iOS and Android tablets this November, according to sources speaking with Boy Genius Report Wednesday. The software is said to look nearly identical to an alleged leak revealed by The Daily in February.
Rumors of Office’s availability on iOS have persisted for many months, with the most specific information provided by The Daily in February, suggesting a 2012 release at $10 per app.
Microsoft flatly denied the authenticity of The Daily’s information, with Office for Mac manager Danell Arvberger, Sr. at the time telling The Mac Observer: “Interesting, this is the first I’ve heard of it. Thanks for sharing the article. If I find anything out and able to share I will let you know.”
While Microsoft has released some components of Office on iOS, including a mobile version of its OneNote planning and note taking software, Office’s foundation applications — Word, Excel, and Powerpoint — have yet to see an official release on the platform.
Thus far, numerous third party applications have offered iOS users the ability to view and edit Office documents but, absent official Microsoft involvement, they have proven to lack consistent formatting and compatibility.
Earlier this year, cloud services company OnLive released OnLive Desktop for iPad, a free app that allowed users to access a virtual Windows environment complete with the full Windows version of Office. While it is an excellent solution in the absence of native applications, ongoing licensing issues and the inability to work offline limit its usefulness.
A November release timeframe for Office on iOS and Android, as suggested by BGR, would see the software released near the expected launch of Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 8, and its accompanying tablet hardware. With Microsoft already taking steps to incentivize the use of Windows 8-based tablets, it is interesting that the company would choose to finally release its Office suite on competing platforms at the same time as, or even prior to, the launch of its own partners’ hardware.
Microsoft-focused journalist Paul Thurrott, speaking on the Windows Weekly podcast, suggested that, while Office should eventually come to iOS and Android, Microsoft would be wise to use it, at least for a limited time, as an exclusive incentive for Windows 8-based tablets.
Conversely, with tens of millions of iPads (and growing) and even more Android devices sold each quarter, Office on these “competing” platforms is arguably too large an opportunity to delay.