Microsoft Preps Office Suite For Apple iPad

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Microsoft is reportedly developing a version of its Office suite for the iPad, said to arrive in 2012

Microsoft is working on a tablet-friendly version of Office that is expected to arrive on the Apple iPad sometime in 2012, at least according to The Daily.

The publication cites unnamed sources for the information, and adds that a new edition of Office for Mac OS X Lion is also in development for a release date in 2012.

Despite competing in a number of areas, including mobile-device software, Microsoft and Apple have maintained a longstanding and largely positive relationship when it comes to Office on the Mac. An extension to iOS seems natural and – considering the sheer size of the iPad user base – potentially very profitable for Microsoft.

Savvy Microsoft

Presumably, Microsoft is also prepping a touch-optimised version of Office for its own upcoming Windows 8 tablets. Its current Office 2010 continues to add substantial revenue to Microsoft’s bottom line, which in turn supports the company’s less-profitable – but arguably all-important – drive into areas such as cloud computing and online services.

If Microsoft ends up earning significant money from Office on the iPad, it would present yet another case in which the company profits from a competitor walloping it in other areas. At the moment, Microsoft’s Windows Phone is scrambling to gain traction against a growing number of Google Android devices – even as Microsoft’s legal team has manoeuvred those same Android manufacturers into paying royalties on every device made, arguing that Google’s operating system violates specific patents.

And Microsoft builds apps for the iPhone, another Windows Phone opponent.

Windows 8 Tablets

Microsoft will face the iPad directly once its manufacturing partners begin pushing out Windows 8 tablets, presumably sometime in 2012. One analyst feels that Microsoft faces a considerable challenge as it seeks to make a dent in the tablet market.

“For tablets … Windows really isn’t a fast follower,” Forrester analyst JP Gownder wrote in a 29 November corporate blog posting. “Rather it’s (at best) a fifth-mover after iPad, Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, HP’s now-defunct webOS tablet, and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.”

With the exception of HP’s TouchPad, those other tablets – if they survive – will be considerably more refined by the time the first generation of Windows 8 tablets make their debut, in turn deepening Microsoft’s challenge. In addition, Gownder added, those Windows 8 tablets will face pressure from Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet, which “are reshaping consumer expectations in the market, driving down price points (and concomitant price expectations), and redefining what a tablet is.”

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