might remove one of the incentives buyers have to purchase new Windows devices. This puts pressure on Windows tablets to stand more firmly on their own merits rather than attempting to piggyback on Microsoft's legacy products.
6. What about Android tablets?
So far, reports have focused on Office for iPad. That said, Office Mobile for Android smartphones was released last year shortly after Office Mobile for iPhones. It's possible Microsoft might debut Office for both iPads and Android tablets this month, but if the company reveals only an iPad version, chances are the Android equivalent will follow in short order. Android doesn't have the iPad's clout in the enterprise, but the platform is too popular, especially in emerging markets, for Microsoft to ignore for long.
7. What about touch-first Office apps for Windows?
Later this year, after releasing Office for iPad, Microsoft will debut touch-oriented versions of the software for Windows 8.1's Modern UI, according to ZDNet's sources. Given that an iPad-oriented version practically demands a touch-first UI, it's not clear how the Windows releases might differ. Microsoft execs have alluded to e-ink and voice input as innovations, in addition to touch, that could redefine Office. Microsoft might hope to protect its hardware goals by differentiating the Office experience on Windows tablets from the Office experience on iPads.
8. Microsoft might have more surprises in store.
Even before the latest Office for iPad rumor, Microsoft had telegraphed its intention to evolve its productivity suite for today's mobile, social workplace. It recently announced new collaborative features, for example, including Office Graph, a tool designed to anticipate user needs and automatically provide relevant information. The company has also integrated more advanced analytics capabilities into Excel.
What do these advances mean for Office on the iPad? As mentioned, Microsoft needs to deliver a compelling user experience, not just rely on its existing reputation. With its recent Office 365 announcements, the company seems to acknowledge an urgency to innovate. If that same attitude applies to Office for iPad, the company might actually silence some doubters. Then again, it might simply duplicate the iPhone's Office Mobile experience, just on a bigger screen.
But if Nadella does indeed dedicate his first public appearance as CEO to an Office announcement, he'll surely feel pressure to impress. Invitations to the March 27 prominently mention the cloud, suggesting Office for iPad could reveal new facets of Nadella's stated "mobile-first, cloud-first" strategy. His March 27 appearance must also set the tone for Build, the company's conference for developers, which begins in San Francisco on April 2. It is expected to feature the release of a Windows 8.1 update and Windows Phone 8.1, as well as a preview of Windows 9.
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