Microsoft Office rumored to be coming to the iPad ... but is it too late?

I'm not surprised ... but I have reservations.

The word on the interwebz is that Microsoft are planning to bring it's Office suite of applications to the iPad.

According to sources, the tech giant is actively working on adapting its popular software suite for Apple’s tablet. With the iPad making up over 80 percent of the tablet market and millions of people worldwide using Office, that could mean big bucks for the tech giant based in Redmond, Wash.

Also, there's a Lion version in the pipeline:

In addition to an iPad-ready version, a new edition of Office is expected for OS X Lion sometime next year. The current version of the desktop package, Office 2011, officially supports iOS versions up to Snow Leopard. A Lion version, likely available via the Mac App Store, is widely expected. Windows, too, is due for an update, with Office 2012 currently in beta form.

This is one of those obvious rumors. Personally, I'm surprised that Microsoft hasn't shoehorned Office onto the iPad already. Maybe it was waiting to see if the iPad would catch on, or maybe it's waiting for Windows 8 tablets to be on the horizon.

Whatever the reason, I'm not surprised that Microsoft is eyeing iOS.

But I have reservations.

First, Microsoft's a little late to the game. I already have at least two applications (Documents to Go and Air Sharing), and I assume that folks who have iPads and regularly handle Microsoft docs will already be kitted out with similar tools, or will have turned to web services to do the same. Back in January, Microsoft released OneNote for iOS, but by that time many people who used OneNote had already come up with solutions to allow them to use OneNote and had integrated these into their workflow. I have a feeling that Microsoft is once again late to the party.

Pricing is going to be crucial too. Forget the couple of hundred dollars price range (unless you are a student) that Microsoft charges for the PC version. Ten bucks per app is probably closer to what Microsoft can charge on the iPad. What iOS apps will rake in for the likes of Microsoft is chump change.

Putting Office on as many platforms as possible is a good idea. But putting Office on the iPad isn't about making money, it's about keeping Office relevant in a world where much of the attention and interest is focused on post-PC devices.

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