Microsoft CEO Nadella may unveil Office on iPad on March 27

Microsoft CEO Nadella may unveil Office on iPad on March 27

Summary: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella may take the wraps off the long-rumored Office for iPad suite at a Microsoft press event focused on cloud and mobile on March 27.


It looks like Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella himself may be taking the wraps off Microsoft's Office for iPad.


Microsoft has scheduled a March 27 press briefing in San Francisco with news "focused on the intersection of cloud and mobile computing." Nadella will be providing the opening remarks.

According to several sources of mine, Microsoft's latest timetable calls for the company to finally introduce the long-rumored Microsoft Office for iPad suite of applications before the end of March 2014. This March 27 event sounds like it might be the time and place.

The suite for the iPad is rumored to include only Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and possibly no other Office client apps. It is expected to be downloaded from the Apple Store but most likely to require a Microsoft Office 365 subscription, similar to the way Office Mobile for iPhone works.

The recently-announced Microsoft Office 365 Personal subscription -- which allows users to install Office on one PC or Mac, plus one tablet -- is expected to add iPads as one of the supported tablet types. (Right now, "one tablet" means "one Windows tablet," only.)

Office for iPad, codenamed "Miramar," is looking increasingly likely to make it to market ahead of Microsoft's touch-first version of Office (codenamed "Gemini"), as I've blogged previously.

Microsoft officials have acknowledged, in a somewhat roundabout way, that Office for iPad exists and is coming. Last we heard, it sounded from ex-CEO Steve Ballmer that it was going to arrive some time after Microsoft's own touch-first, "Gemini" implementation of Office. Gemini is Microsoft's Metro-Style/Windows Store versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.

But Ballmer and the senior leaders of the company may have had a change of heart towards the end of last year. 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 8.1 version. The new timing for Office for iPad shifted to "first half of calendar 2014." (My sources last summer were hearing Office for iPad wouldn't debut until Fall 2014.)

Microsoft is planning to Webcast the March 27 event, which will kick off at 10a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET. (The URL for that Webcast is not yet available.)

It'll be interesting to see what, if anything, Microsoft says about the coming Gemini suite of touch-first apps for Windows 8.1 at the upcoming event. Microsoft officials demonstrated an alpha version of the Gemini PowerPoint app at Build 2013, and said at that time that the Gemini suite of apps would be available in the Windows Store in calendar 2014.

Microsoft officials aren't commenting as to whether the Office on iPad announcement will be part of the March 27 event.

Topics: Mobility, Cloud, Collaboration, iOS, iPad, Microsoft, Mobile OS, Windows 8


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • A mistake.

    • Why?


      PS: so what are the Ipad vs Surface adverts going to focus on now?
      • Office on iPad vs. Office on Surface RT

        Office on Surface RT is free and doesn't require a paid Office 365 subscription. That's one difference. You also get Outlook with Surface, but not so sure you will on iPad. MJ
        Mary Jo Foley
        • Outlook won't be enough of a selling point

          as iMail does active sync and is as nice a mail client on mobile as there is.

          I think they should up the rights on the RT Office though, as it isn't really "free" except for the limited subset of non-commercial use. You have to have a license for everything else.

          The Surface (Pro) ads can and should focus on the fact that it can double as a full powered PC. That is a distinctive advantage for some users.
          • Office upgrade to RT?

            Having both Surface Pro and Surface RT in my hands I can't see a lot of purpose in upping the license in RT. It just seems to my eyes that RT systems aren't really targeted to commercial uses. They are better suited to private use and especially seem well-suited to students. At this level of use the version of Office that is on an RT tablet is very suitable. If you can justify the need for the horsepower behind a commercial Office installation you should be using Windows 8 Pro on a system designed for it. IMHO the Surface RT and its ilk are probably the most perfect student hardware and software package I have ever seen. Now that Office is going to be available on iPad you could almost hear the sigh of relief across town at the college campus. God knows my college-aged kids were scared to death I was going to make them get Windows computers rather than the more expensive but infinitely cooler Apple products to save myself a few bucks... except my youngest, she actually loves the Surface RT and her MacBook Pro is still sitting in the closet where I put it to see how long before she noticed (been 6 weeks so far LOL).
            The Heretic
          • SurfaceRT is ChromeOS

            SurfaceRT and ChromeOS pretty much world the same, as the browser handles the main load. / OneDrive or Google Docs work just fine. Don't see a need for Office as installed hardware. Of course there are free office apps. For most people / students / some business, ChromeOS devices will simply make the most sense and cost less.
        • True but

          from my understanding reading your posts, Office for iPad will be Touch first (optimized) while Office for Surface RT is still keyboard / mouse based. Time will tell if this is enough of an advantage
          • Advantage to what?

            Not sure if being not-touch is an advantage to Surface. While I must assume a touch first version of Office is being produced for Windows 8, I don't see having a touch unfriendly version of Office on the Surface when a touch friendly version exists on an iPAD, is an advantage. Having both on the Surface would be a plus. Then you could use whichever was most effective at the moment. As it is, they are putting me into a position of needing an iPAD if I want to be effective in Office with my fingers. Touch Office will only exist on iPAD, not Android (tablets) or Windows.
          • Actually,

            per some of Mary Jo's past articles, Touch Office is coming to Windows 8 tablets. Android is 50 / 50.

            And I was referring to the idea if Touch Office on the iPad will give it an advantage to non-Touch Office on Surface RT. Only time will tell. And if Touch Office does come to Windows 8, which I strongly believe it will, then it doesn't matter either way.
          • I expect the the next version of Office for the Surface ...

            ... will be touch in Metro and kybd/mouse on the desktop - not unlike the behavior of IE 11. Office stands on its own when compared to iWork or GoogleDocs. If you are not already reliant on Office, Office for iPad won't get much traction but if you rely on Office for any reason, Office on iPad will be a big deal. Want Office for free. It is still available for free on the iPad using Safari and Office On-line (was WebApps).
            M Wagner
          • Both are too small

            I find both Surface and Tablets to be too small for work. Best to have a larger screen for say spreadsheets.
          • Office on RT is touch optimized

            There is a setting that asks, when setting up Office the first time, if you want the buttons and icons set for keyboard/mouse or touch optimized. They do this by increasing the screen contrast and shrinking the menus when you choose keyboard mouse and spreading and enlarging buttons and icons when choosing touch. Works well and can be reconfigured on the fly from the menu. I have also found that if you leave your index finger with a good nail on the tip you can navigate the keyboard/mouse menus almost faultlessly using your fingernail rather than a finger tip. Rather like a fine point pencil for writing rather than a crayon.
            The Heretic
        • office RT is a desktop app

          very touch unfriendly.
        • Different in core and in use

          I find the major difference to be not in Office itself but to be able to have two different flavours and concepts of Windows 8 in the same machine (plus a finely integrated keyboard that doubles as a cover).

          In my Surface RT I use Office in Desktop mode and all other tablet-oriented apps in Modern (or whatever) mode, splitting the screen if necessary and flipping through all of them as needed. Let's see if in the iPad one can do something similar.

          Anyway, and after more than one year with Win 8 in a laptop and RT in Surface, I still cannot imagine any productive work to be done without keyboard+mouse. Touch is entertainment oriented or for very specific applications with only limited input from the user. Surface is the best of two worlds.
          • your Netbook

            True, your Surface Netbook hooked to larger monitor, keyboard and mouse is going the be better than using a tablet, like an iPad. I think Chromebooks of a larger size, those 13" and larger, or Chromebox of Chromebase will also work well with office apps.
      • Why???

        Because they would be playing in Apple's yard.
        Remember who the poster was who expressed this opinion.
    • Not a mistake for Microsoft at all

      They're "all in" for the cloud. Office 365 is being treated by Microsoft like Evernote in superhero tights - a platform, cloud based, one you can access from all your stuff. It will be a big win, even from a perception point of view by people who already have lots of Microsoft gear.

      For those who are treating tech like it is a super bowl game between Microsoft and Apple, I expect those are the folks who really feel like they've lost today.

      But it isn't a zero sum game. Apple does not have to lose for Microsoft to win. That's the best stance to take for shareholders.
      • nonsense

        it is a zero sum game buddy. that is what marketshare is about.
        • It's not zero sum in a growing market

          only when the market is saturated. Truth be told, MS was stupid for holding back so long (if they even release it now). For some bizarre reason, Microsoft thinks it's only worthwhile software offering is Windows and that all other software offerings must somehow lead a user to getting Windows.
    • Not Really

      I used to be the strongest advocate for holding the company jewels only for Windows tablets (RT or real Coke), but not anymore. It's like the old joke about tying a pork chop around the kid's neck to get the dog to play with him. If the Windows tablets ONLY have value because they are the only way to get Office, then you have the cart so far in front of the horse it can't even be seen (don't you just love mixed metaphors). Seriously, Windows 8.x-9 has to survive on its own merits, and no amount of protecting the home turf will save it. If folks will jump the ship to iPad or Android, then it is only a matter of time that they do so for a non-Office solution, then where are you?

      Just like OneNote has now cropped up as a cross-platform solution, the rest of the suite is sure to follow. In fact, let's get REALLY daring, and fashion your own flavor of Linux with a Linux version of Office (kind of an Office 97 throwback with modern file formats). No one will ever be able to argue there is a better spreadsheet than Excel, and only a few hardy souls will scream at the top of their lungs that anything is a better word processor than Word. It's time to relegate the OS to its rightful place as an OS, not destination in its own right.