Microsoft to Launch Office Suite for iOS and Android Products

Microsoft does not want to help Apple sell iPads — what with
its own Windows 8 tablets coming to market. But then again, it
wants to sell as many copies as possible of its very
profitable Office suite, especially now that the corporates
and educational organizations have started buying large
quantities of iPads. If it does not put Office on the iPad, it
risks making the iPad a nesting ground for Office competitors,
such as Apple’s iWorks.

Microsoft will finally launch Office applications for iOS and
Android in March. Microsoft product manager Petr Bobek told a
press event in the Czech Republic that the long awaited
products would come to the two leading mobile OSs, plus

Microsoft is not confirming the news at a more corporate
level, telling CNet: “Office Mobile will work across Windows
Phones, Android phones and iOS, and we have nothing additional
to announce today about retail availability of the new
Office.” OneNote and Lync are likely to be the first cross-
platform offerings, with Word, Excel and PowerPoint to come.

An unveiling in March would probably coincide with the debut
of the next full-sized iPad, if Apple sticks to its current
cycle, and that could give the new apps a powerful launch
platform — showing Microsoft’s belated recognition that it may
profit more from extending popular software to third party
platforms rather than keeping everything close to home in
order to differentiate Windows alone.

Indeed, a press release (also issued in the Czech Republic)
indicates that Android and iOS versions will appear at the
same time as Office for Microsoft’s own ARM-based Windows
variants, RT and Windows Phone 8, giving those systems no time
advantages. Web versions of the apps are also reportedly on
their way.

The timing also means that, despite the obvious appeal of a
larger screen for Office use, the first Windows RT tablets,
due toward the end of the year, will miss the apps. However,
the iPad is the leading tablet and likely to remain so,
despite the debut of Microsoft Surface and other models — and
is increasingly finding its way into large enterprises.
Therefore, Microsoft has already risked losing impatient users
to rival productivity platforms, having been supposedly
releasing native Office apps for the iPad “soon” for about a
year. Apple has now released its own iWork suite.

It will certainly help Apple in the enterprise whereby people
can run Office natively on their BYOD tablets and have the
same as on their PCs. Microsoft’s been promising it for ages.
The timing with the iPad launch is just our speculation of
course, but it would be neat timing. Microsoft really has to
release the whole Office suite this time though, not like
their first iPhone app in 2011, which turned out to be just
OneNote Best.

This article appeared in Wireless Watch.

This section’s name reflects the fact that the iPad is still
far and away the world’s dominant tablet. With Amazon, Google
and Samsung having failed, can Microsoft knock Apple off its
tablet throne with Windows 8?

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