That photo in The Daily showing an iPad running Microsoft Office might have been a fake, but don't worry, the world's most popular suite will be coming tot he iPad real soon - it has to!
I agree with Mary Jo Foley's assessment of Microsoft's denial - saying that the report was "based on inaccurate rumors and speculation" doesn't mean that there's isn't a team of developers in Redmond busy working away to bring Microsoft Office to the iPad. In fact, it's as close as we have to proof that the Redmond giant is indeed working on bringing those business powerhouse applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint to the iPad.
And it should. Because right now it's lagging far behind the pack when it comes to breaking into the post-PC market. There are already countless apps in the Apple App Store that can handle Office documents (albeit in a variably patchy way - in my experience, some documents work well, others not so good, and some just break completely or crash the app that was used to open them), so Microsoft is already behind. We're so close to the release of the iPad 3 and Microsoft isn't a name that you see all that much in the App Store.
So why does Microsoft need to bring Office to the iPad? Because it needs to keep the suite relevant because there's a lot of money and significance riding on it. The competition here isn't coming from Apple (Apple's iWork is no threat to the Office juggernaut) but from Google, which wants to make apps a thing of them past and replace them with online and cloud services. The more Google entices people into the cloud, the less relevant Office becomes, and a key strategic market that Microsoft once held an iron grip on evaporates.
And if interests in Office evaporates, that puts a huge chunk of revenue on the line. Microsoft's business unit, which includes Office, Windows Server, SQL Server and the like, is worth over $20 billion a year. That's a lot of revenue at stake if people start replacing their copies of Microsoft Office with Google Docs. The only way Microsoft can prevent the erosion of Microsoft Office is to bring it to every screen and every platform, and since the most dominant post-PC device is the iPad, not putting Office on that platform would be a silly idea. It wouldn't just be a case of Microsoft shooting itself in the foot, it could be shooting itself through the head.
So, despite cryptic remarks from Microsoft PR, you can be guaranteed that the company is working to bring Office to the iPad, because not to do so would be tantamount to suicide.
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