Microsoft appears close to debuting a version of its Office productivity suite for Apple's iPad.
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iPad news app The Daily says it has spent some time with Microsoft Office for the Apple iPad. Though Microsoft has been ambivalent about plans to bring its productivity suite to the world's most popular tablet, The Daily believes that the software will be submitted to Apple for approval soon and released to the app-purchasing public in mere weeks.
According to The Daily, the application suite adopts a user interface similar to that of Microsoft's OneNote service, though it also shows hints of the Metro UI. Specifically, it resembles the look and feel of Microsoft's Windows Phone platform and the forthcoming Windows 8 platform.
What can you do with it? Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files can be created and edited both locally and online. The Daily doesn't say anything about integration with Microsoft's SkyDrive cloud-based storage product.
Microsoft is not working on a similar version of Office for Google's Android platform, though it is preparing a new version of OneNote for iOS that will also adopt the Metro UI.
That's where The Daily's info ends, but ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley picked up the story and shared more details.
Foley believes Microsoft Office for the iPad will resemble Office 15 for Windows On ARM, which Microsoft has shown off recently. It would include Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote. Foley also noted, however, that Office 15 for Windows isn't scheduled for release until closer to the end of the calendar year, which makes the likelihood of an imminent tablet release appear to be less solid.
Foley points out that Microsoft CFO Peter Klein said last week, "Microsoft believes it has a 'great tablet experience with Office,'" though he didn't specify on which platform.
Last, Foley speculates that the picture of Office on the iPad published by The Daily hints that the "application suite" might be nothing more than remote access to Office via a tool similar to Microsoft's OnLive Desktop app.
Bottom line here is that Microsoft has not announced that it is bringing Office to the iPad. Should it? Some question why Microsoft would support a competing platform, but application sales are application sales, no matter the platform. If Microsoft's customers are asking for Office on tablets (and specifically the iPad) Microsoft could kick out a version for the iPad while it takes the time necessary to develop a more powerful version for Windows 8.
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