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Office for iPad in 2014? Big mistake

Gregg Keizer | April 11, 2013
A purported Microsoft roadmap for future releases of its Office suite showed a fall 2014 launch date for Office on Apple's iOS and Google's Android mobile operating systems, an online report said today.

Previously, experts have said that the debate, as crucial as it was to the direction of two of the company's biggest revenue generators, would reach, and be decided at, the CEO level.

An Oct. 2104 launch timetable for Office on iOS and Android signals that the Windows team won the argument.

"Office remains shackled to Office," said Gillett in an interview Tuesday, before Foley reported on the later launch for iOS and Android. "That means it remains restricted. Microsoft needs to break [Office] out of its Windows dependency."

Microsoft has remained tight-lipped about its plans for Office, but in hindsight, comments made by several executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer and the head of the Office division, Kurt DelBene, hinted at a later release of the suite on rivals' tablets.

In February, for instance, DelBene sidestepped questions about Office on iOS, and in response, touted the online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, which are free to use but accessible only through a browser.

The same month, Baller used a nearly-identical talking point in an interview with BusinessWeek. "We do have a way for people always to get to Office through the browser, which is very important. And we'll see what we see in the future," Ballmer told the financial news publication.

While some have speculated that Microsoft could rake in billions from the sale of Office on iOS and iPad, most experts don't expect the company to sell them as stand-alone apps on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

Instead, they figure that Microsoft will tie the mobile suite to Office 365, its line of rent-not-own subscription plans. The $100-per-year Office 365 Home Premium, for example, gives a customer the right to install Office on up to five Windows PCs and Macs, as well as five mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.

In that scenario, Microsoft would offer the Office iOS and Android apps free of charge; those apps, however, would only work, or do more than allow document viewing, when the user was logged in from an active Office 365 account.

 

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