Microsoft Office on iPad: It's alive and coming sooner than most think

Microsoft Office on iPad: It's alive and coming sooner than most think

Summary: Microsoft's Office for iPad, codenamed Miramar, isn't dead. In fact, it just might beat Microsoft's own touch-first Office implementation for Windows to market.


It must be a slow news day. I see a number of folks trying to parse recent statements by Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Marketing Tami Reller -- who described  Microsoft's approach to balancing its Windows and cross-platform plans as "thoughtful" -- as meaning Microsoft plans to drag its feet on Office for iPad.


Office for iPad -- which I've recently heard is codenamed "Miramar" -- isn't dead. In fact, it's likely to make it to market ahead of Microsoft's touch-first version of Office (codenamed "Gemini") according to a couple of my sources.

Here's a quick recap on what I've heard from Microsoft officials, as well as my own contacts, about Office for iPad.

Microsoft officials have acknowledged, in a somewhat roundabout way, that it 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 I hear 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 version. I'm hearing that new date for Office for iPad is some time in the first half of calendar 2014. (My sources last summer were hearing Office for iPad wouldn't debut until Fall  2014.)

I still haven't heard exactly how Microsoft will make Office for iPad available. I've heard it's likely to require some kind of Office 365 subscription (either corporate or Home Premium, depending on the use case). If I were a betting woman, I'd count on it saving files by default to OneDrive (the soon-to-be-renamed SkyDrive) or OneDrive for Business, with options to save locally. The Office 365 tie-in isn't hard to imagine, given Microsoft has made Office Mobile available for iPhones and Android phones, with an Office 365 subscription requirement.

As you might expect, Microsoft officials are declining to comment on anything having to do with Office on iPad. But don't believe the naysayers: Office for iPad is coming. And sooner than many think.

Topics: Windows 8, Apple, Cloud, Collaboration, iPad, Microsoft


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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  • It will be Office 365, I agree

    That's definitely the model that will work best for them, and why an iPad version would make sense - it adds to the perception you can use your subscription anywhere.

    is it the Mac team down in Mountain View that's doing it MJF?
    • which MS team is building it?

      Not sure which team is doing the work. It's also interesting we've heard nothing at all about the next version of Office for Mac. I keep asking and keep getting no comment. MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • I'd expect that Office 365 would be the model for all future versions ...

        ... of Office for Mac because it re-unified Office under a single codebase.
        M Wagner
      • Office for Mac

        With Apple's continued refinement of iWork apps including iCloud integration and increased consistency across iOS and OSX, I find myself using Office for Mac less and less. For 95% of the work I normally do in Office apps, I can do the same, faster and easier, using iWork and with better cross platform compatibility than ever. Any intentional effort by Microsoft to delay development of Office for Mac 2011 (which was a crippled joke since its launch in 2010) will only spur increased use and adoption of competing products by Mac users, who are no longer the tiny niche market we used to be. And if they expect that adding the crappy Metro interface to the next Windows version is going to make people race to upgrade, the eventual disappointment will make the Windows 8 launch pale in comparison.
    • This is already a given...

      ...the only way they do this is if they make a Office 365 subscription a requirement for the apps. The way they "balance" it with the Windows touch-first offering is that the Windows version will be completely free on a Windows tablet (RT and 8" screens, at least), no Office 365 subscription required.
    • Office on iPad will kill Surface RT...

      A dedicated Office app on the iPad will destroy the one reason anyone might choose a Surface RT... or maybe most Windows tablets.

      The fact that it might go to the iPad before the Surface is a real slap in the face to anyone who bought a Surface.
      • I am not aware of any evidence this is true

        Microsoft Office has been on iPhone for 3/4 of a year now, and it took no share from Windows Phone. Some pieces of Office (Lync and OneNote) have already been on iPad for a long time, and Office 365 for web has provided a quite serviceable UI for iPad for a while now.

        Surface fans should feel less insecure about their choice. Surface Pro has some really big advantages - it can double as a true high firepower PC.

        Office, not Windows, is Microsoft's biggest flagship product. It makes sense for them to give it pride of place in their product release decisions.
        • Most people don't need Office on a phone...

          True enough, but most people have no use for an Office editor on a phone. I know I rarely use it except for OneNote. But Office on a tablet is clearly more useful and a significant reason why one person may choose a Surface over something else.

          With that said... if Office on Windows tablets is free... but costs money on an iPad... well, that may mitigate the damage a little... but there are so many reasons to choose an iPad already... do we really need to give them one more?
          • Most people don't need Office

            The basic versions come with only a couple of the Office apps - Word, Excel, Outlook, Excel. Each of those have capabilities far beyond the needs of most people. Office 365 may come fully equipped, with Access, Publisher etc for PCs, but I'd be stunned if more than "a few percent" of people use those apps or know how to do so, effectively.

            It could be debated that an Office 365 subscription gives people access to apps that they might need. An alternative is that people pay a lot of money for subscriptions for apps that they don't need and for capabilities in apps that they don't need.

            "Office Lite" would suit the majority of people.
          • I think you've hit the nail on the head

            Most people don't need office...

            But up intil recently most had no idea this was true - everyone they bew used office so they beeded it.

            I deed this was microsoft's model too - don't give ios and android office to hold them back for the windows space - hold the software people want ransom for the one they don't choose...

            However the ipad (and thus modern tablet market) turns 4 this year, and well... Most people are being far more productive with their ipads, nexus' and galaxy's than MS had planned.

            It has become tangeble that you don't 'need' office anymore on the tablets - people ask for it less and less as they find apps that work instead.

            It makes sense for ms to get office to market asap, before it looses market it can't recover from.

            We know people buy devices not operating systems. They have up until now chosen office. If ms hold out too much longer they risk loosing their advantage in their product people choose
          • but there are so many reasons to choose an iPad already.????

            Well there are many reason NOT to choose an IPAD already...

            The devices like a DEll venue 8, and others are FULL pc's in a $300 price range/ and in tablet form.

            Hell The 8" tablets are even coming with a FULL (not 60 day trial) of M$ office 2013!!!

            why would I settle for a locked down fruit machine when I can have my full powered pc for the same price
        • I almost have to agree with cybersaurusrex's opinion.

          Especially when one consider's Surface RT tablets. Quite frankly, I would never have purchased a Surface RT (even with it's discounted price that was offered at the time I purchased one) except for it's inclusion of it's version of Office Suite Apps. (Since I already owned a Surface Pro).

          The decision to purchase other Win 8 mobile touch enabled computers that offer the "full window's legacy app experience" is not as dependent upon an Office Suite inclusion ... as RT devices are, IMO. Therefore, I believe, like you FenceSitter, that releasing native Office Suite apps to iOS and Android devices would not have impacted sales of Win 8 devices having the "full Windows Experience".

          Still, even then, a MAJOR selling point for the new 8" Win 8 tablet format devices, like the Dell Venue 8 Pro models, was it's bundled Office Suite.
          • Surface RT

            Same here ... Were it not for native Office, Surface RT wouldn't have even been a consideration for me, let alone the device I eventually purchased. It's been a game changer in terms of my personal mobility.
          • Hold The Smart Phone

            If Microsoft's track record of Office on the Mac is any indication, the iPad version won't be as nifty as the Windows touch version. Take this with a grain of salt but from a person who is used to Windows version of Office, the Mac version is a pile.
          • Yes, robradina, it's so hard to believe

            that Microsoft started business as a developer of software for the Macintosh. I started with Word 1 (not much use for anything but importing text into PageMaker). Right up until that worst piece of software ever to be dumped on an unsuspecting and undeserving public, Word 6 (for which I still haven't forgiven Microsoft) Word for the Mac got better and better.
            Laraine Anne Barker
          • Modern Microsoft Word first shipped on a Mac, but

            Microsoft was developing software well before that.

            They started with a Basic interpreter on Apple II and CP/M boxes. I used Microsoft products on Z-80s running CP/M in the early 1980s. MS-DOS predates the Macintosh by a couple of years. Word shipped on MS-DOS (with a mouse and some degree of WYSIWYG-ed-ness) before Word 1.0 shipped on the Mac.

            And, you neglect to mention Excel, which first shipped on a Mac, and for a while was really one of the Mac's "killer apps" (the other being desktop publishing with a LaserWriter attached).
          • They also developed

            Basic for the Amiga computer.

            It wasn't too bad either.
            Gary O'Connor
          • But for most people?

            I can't see 99% of people caring about the functionality differences between Office for Mac and Office for Windows. Now, if their main need is "100% compatibility with the Windows version of Office because I'm also using that at work" - that's one thing... But if it's "type some letters or school papers using Word and use Excel to make neatly formatted shopping lists", that's another.
        • Yeah...

          But you can't take share from something that has hardly any. Saying that the iPhone didn't take share from Windows Phone despite it having Office is like saying that Windows didn't take share from Mac despite it having iTunes. Windows is such a bit player in the overall phone market that there isn't really any share to take.
        • You can't kill something that is already dead.

          The RT is an un-issue, it is dead in the water and MS is most likely dropping the OS. MS needs Excel to work on the iOS to help keep Office alive. They know iPads own the pad enterprise and that is a market they don't want to lose.