Did you catch the news from a couple days ago? According to ZDNet, Microsoft is planning to release Office for the iPad in the first half of 2014:
According to one of my contacts, Ballmer OK’d the suggestion by the Office team that they’d bring Office for iPad to market as soon as it was ready, even though that would likely mean before the Windows 8 version. I’m hearing that new date for Office for iPad is some time in the first half of calendar 2014. (My sources last summer were hearing Office for iPad wouldn’t debut until Fall 2014.)
I think it could be launched well before June, though I’m not expecting it to be compatible with the iPad 2.
I looked into this story today, and as a first step I went looking for the historical background. Microsoft has been rumored to be working on Office for the iPad since 2011, and had been rumored to already have finished the app in 2012, so I wasn’t sure that we should take the current rumor more seriously than the previous rumors.
Sure, there is an Office for iPhone app in iTunes, and you can use the Office 365 web apps on the iPad (subscription req’d), but that doesn’t mean MS was going to release a similar iPad app.
But then I found this. MS has a single Office 365 help page for both iPad and iPhone, leading me to wonder if the tech support folks got a little ahead of the development team. I’m not sure yet whether we should read anything into that, but the help pages did tell me a few things that ZDNet missed. For example, I don’t see that ZDNet mentioned the Office 365 web apps which, according to MS, will work on the iPad.
It looks like this:
They also posited that Office for the iPad would tie into Office 365 and SkyDrive. Considering that there already is a SkyDrive app for the iPad (along with apps for Outlook, Lync, SharePoint, and OneNote), the latter suggestion seems more than likely.
Speaking of apps, has anyone tried to install the Office iPhone app on an iPad? I just tried, but I was told that the app is incompatible with my iPad 2. Did it work for you?
The app requires an autofocus camera, which I am assuming my iPad 2 doesn’t have. If the official Office for iPad app has a similar requirement then this could present a problem for Microsoft.
As I noted last October, the iPad 2 is the single most used iPad model in the world, according to the app analytics firm Localytics. Their brief survey found that 38% of iPads they were tracking in a survey were iPad 2, and in fact more people were using that model than were using the later 2 models, combined. This survey predates the release of the iPad Air so it’s not terribly accurate anymore, but since Apple is still selling the iPad 2 I think this survey report is probably more accurate than not. And that’s a problem for Microsoft.
If Microsoft does release Office for iPad, and it doesn’t work on the iPad 2, then they’re cutting themselves off from half of the potential userbase. At $10 for an Office 365 subscription, I don’t think they’ll want to lose out on all those millions of users, but at this point it’s not entirely out of the question.