Microsoft terms talk of Office on iPad 'inaccurate'

Disavows claim by its Czech subsidiary that native iOS apps will ship in the first quarter of 2013

Microsoft has disavowed comments made by its Czech subsidiary that the company will roll out iOS and Android apps of its Office suite early next year.

"The information shared by our Czech subsidiary is not accurate. We do not have anything further to share at this time," a company spokesman said in an email Wednesday.

Earlier, Frank Shaw, the head of Microsoft's corporate communications, tweeted a nearly-identical denial.

Microsoft was backing away from a report on the Czech website IHNED that said a local Microsoft official had confirmed that native iOS and Android apps for Office would debut in the first quarter of 2013.

Rumors of Microsoft pulling the trigger on Office for iOS, largely fueled by the success of the iPad, have surfaced repeatedly. Each time Microsoft has quashed the talk, at times with vague denials that leave room for interpretation.

Again on Twitter, Shaw later responded to a reporter's comment with the line, "Gee, I thought it was pretty blanket," referring to his previous statement that the information distributed by Microsoft's Czech arm was "inaccurate."

That leaves little room for interpretation.

But Wes Miller of Directions on Microsoft, and that research firm's in-house lead analyst on Office, was not so sure. In fact, Miller said there were compelling arguments for either issuing native iOS Office apps, or keeping the money-making suite tightly -- if not exclusively -- tied to Windows.

It's conceivable, said Miller, that Microsoft would link iOS Office apps to its upcoming Office 365 subscription plans, which in the case of the deal for consumers, lets customers install Office on as many as five devices, including desktop and notebook PCs, tablets, and smartphones.

In that arrangement -- and Apple's iOS App Store policies seem to allow this -- Microsoft would offer Office apps free-of-charge, then tie them to an Office 365 subscription. Only users with a current subscription would be able to actually run such apps.

Other software-as-a-service companies use that model for their iPhone and iPad apps, which access customers' accounts: Salesforce is one example.

"But I don't think that would be a great idea," said Miller. "It would pigeon-hole Office [on iOS] if it was only available to Office 365 subscribers."

Miller said there were reasons why Microsoft would, in fact, release Office for iOS, and not tie it to Office 365.

"I have to wonder if the toxicity of the 'Apple tax' would really prevent them [from doing Office for iOS]," Miller said, referring to the 30% cut that Apple takes of all app revenue.

"But I really think they have to do something on iOS," said Miller. "Look at the App Store. Many of the most popular productivity apps are Office emulators. So Microsoft is leaving money on the table that could be theirs."

On the other hand, keeping Office connected to Windows also has benefits, in that Windows is, like Office, a major cash cow for the Redmond, Wash. company. "It's six of one, half-dozen of another," Miller said of the way the decision could go.

In any case, like other analysts, Miller was certain that any move -- or non-move -- would be decided at the highest level of Microsoft, and not left up to the fiefdoms of the Office or Windows groups.

"This would be a Steve [Ballmer] decision, Steve and Kurt DelBene [president of the Office division] and the board sitting down," Miller said. "It would be a chess move."

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about ios in Computerworld's iOS Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?