Office for iPad coming after touch-enabled Windows version, says Ballmer

By , Oct 8, 2013

Office online on iPad

Earlier in June of this year, software maker Microsoft finally posted its long overdue Office 365 for iPhone (Jeff reviewed it here). The native iPad build, however, was nowhere to be seen. Speaking at a Gartner event in Florida today, Microsoft’s outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer slipped in that Office for iPad is indeed being worked on.

He also cautioned that his company will first release touch-optimized version of Office for Windows before unleashing the iPad edition. In case you’ve been wondering, touch-optimized Office is currently “in progress”

The Verge has the quote:

iPad will be picked up when there’s a touch first user interface.

It’s a repeat of the comment Qi Lu, Microsoft’s head of applications and services, made at an analyst meeting recently: he said Microsoft is “working on touch-first versions for our core apps in the Office suite,” and that the company will “bring these apps to Windows devices, and also to other devices in ways that meet out customers’ needs”.

For what it’s worth, the Windows giant demoed a Metro-style version of PowerPoint for Windows 8.1 at its Build developer conference earlier this year.

If Office for iPhone is anything to go by, the iPad edition is likely going to require a paid Office 365 subscription to function. Moreover, I have a feeling that the iPad version will be more of an Office companion than a full-blown productivity application, akin to its sub-par iPhone counterpart.

This would be in line with Microsoft’s philosophy when it comes to mobile and competing devices. For instance, the company recently took its Outlook Web App and turned it into a native iOS client that leaves a lot to be desired.

Having moved to Google Apps a few years back (and never looking back), I’m not sure I’m the right person to comment on the benefits of having a full-on Microsoft Office suite for the Apple tablet.

Speaking of Ballmer, here’s his tearful goodbye in a farewell address to troops.

No matter how you look at it, Microsoft must be feeling the heat.

Apple, for example, recently made its Pages, Keynote and Numbers productivity apps (along with a bunch of other applications) free to everyone who purchased a new iOS device.

Users are reminded to download these apps for free during the iOS 7 setup process, but can also choose to download them later through the App Store, by visiting the Featured > New to the App Store? > Apps Made by Apple section.

iWork free apps

Making matters worse for Microsoft, Google-owned Quickoffice suite has recently gone free. It’s one of the finest Microsoft Office alternatives on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets I’ve seen to date. As if that weren’t enough, Google’s enterprise-focused strategy with Apps continues unabated.

QuickOffice 6.1 for iOS (iPad screenshot 001)
Quickoffice for iPad.

Of course, Microsoft Office remains the de facto standard for business productivity.

That, like everything in life, might change at a moment’s notice. It was just five years ago that Google unveiled its Chrome software and today Chrome is the world’s top browser despite the fact that big businesses depend on Microsoft’s browser as enterprise web apps are typically certified against Internet Explorer.

Let’s also not forget that the search monster is now building its own Android mobile devices and Chromebook notebooks and has promised to bring Chrome OS design and features to Windows 8.

Do you care about Office for iPad?

Image top of post: Office Online running on an iPad.

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  • Prasoon Singh

    Don’t care.

    • hkgsulphate

      u serious?

      • Prasoon Singh

        yup.

    • Anthony Antunez

      I don’t either. If Microsoft isn’t taking mobile devices seriously, its not worth trying their subpar apps. iWork is a much better example of a mobile work suite and works great between different iOS devices while remaining easy to use and not a hassle on a touch screen. Microsoft is dropping the ball on this one when it could be something great. I don’t want another crappy companion app, its a waste of time.

      • Danuel Carr

        Couldn’t have said it better myself.

      • Markus Hudobnik

        yes, but iWork is extremely hard to export/import work as a majority of companies have windows products.

        Now if iWork was available on windows…. that would be cool.

  • Royce Otero

    I don’t work an a office

    • Jonathan

      *at an office

      • Royce Otero

        Thanks

    • Chuck Finley

      Yeah, that shows.

  • Rowan09

    Not anymore there are so many alternatives, they waited too long.

  • ✪ aidan harris ✪

    I’d consider this good news if it wasn’t for the fact that I can just tell that they aren’t making a stand alone app and are instead making a companion app for an Office 365 subscription service…

  • Markus Hudobnik

    Finally….

  • omrishtam

    ballmer is an idiot in productive….he waited WAY too long to release it….good to know he is leaving soon

  • Moi

    I won’t want it if it requires that 365 thing

  • Gucciipad

    Nope i have pages. And use pages on icloud on my laptop. No use for office anymore

  • Jim Hart

    Microsoft dropped the ball just like they have in most areas the past 5 years.

    • bigtalk

      yeah i don’t even care anymore..

  • Scott

    I use a combo of pages/keynote/numbers, google docs, and Quickoffice (once it went free), to do most of my stuff on my iPad or mac. I do have MS Office on the Mac and my windows laptop but only because I get it for about $10 due to being a government employee. Once that incentive is gone, I probably won’t buy it again. I have office at work, so I can type up what I want at home in one of the apps listed above and then just finalize the format at work. 90% of the work done outside of office, 10% done in office.