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.