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MS Office for the iPad is Coming Sooner Than You Think, But Might Not Work on the iPad 2

Did you google-docs-ipad[1]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.

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WriterMJones February 17, 2014 um 1:22 pm

This would be MOST AWESOME if it worked for Ipad Mini.

nikolawannabe February 17, 2014 um 1:41 pm

Half of their *current* potential userbase. Targeting the right version is always a beastly task, and betting on the past is typically a losing move. If they release in the fall, that will be another 6 months for the installed base of the iPad 2 to atrophy.

Given the speed of technological change, it is infeasible to target every version.

I think it’s a tragedy that this should be the case, because I don’t think users who pay $500 for a device realize they’re really going to be paying about $250 a year to subsidize their newly acquired device habit, but as a software developer, the sheer speed with which these come and go is staggering.

Syn Sassoon February 18, 2014 um 8:58 am

They can leave me out. I’m not paying a sub to rent an office App. I don’t like these new rental models at all. Office 2010 (Thank god I bought it!) Is the new Windows XP for me. My iPad will just have to suffer some other office App until I can transfer the text to my desktop.

Nate Hoffelder February 18, 2014 um 9:03 am

I don’t see most people getting an Office 365 sub – not when you can get an office app on the iPad for only $10.

Syn Sassoon February 18, 2014 um 9:07 am

All these new schemes are set to milk money from you. Even if you buy (slightly off subject) the new Office in a box, it comes with 1 license (you use to get three) and its married to the PC you installed it on. You new PC dies in 9 months and get replaced under warranty, bye bye office.

Paul February 18, 2014 um 12:31 pm

I suspect it will be more like what’s going to happen at my company. We’re all moving to Office 365 by the end of the year. Hence the iPad app would be ideal (and free as part of the subscription). Its cheaper than paying for the google company option services.

Syn Sassoon February 18, 2014 um 6:37 pm

Not all companies are moving to 365. Whirlpool Corp, believe it or not is moving to Google services.

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