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.