A touch-optimized version of Microsoft’s Office suite is coming to the iPad… at some point. According to outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the Redmond company does intend on introducing Office to Apple’s tablet ecosystem, just as soon as a “touch first user interface” is developed. Fortunately, Microsoft is already working on such a “touch first” interface for its own Windows platform, meaning an iPad-specific edition should be out in no time; if you’re desperate to use Office, you can always take advantage of Microsoft’s Web Apps in the browser.
During a recent meeting, Microsoft’s chief operating officer expressed the desire to “own the productivity experience across all devices,” according to The Verge, highlighting the importance of Office for iPad. Apple this year announced its iWork apps are free for every new iOS device, while Google just recently announced Quickoffice for iOS and Android; the productivity war is very clearly heating up. Another Microsoft exec, Qi Lu, said the company is hard at work on a “touch first” version of Office, and is focused on bringing that experience to all platforms in an effort to meet its customers’ needs.
Microsoft previously introduced its software for the iPhone, which requires an Office 365 subscription; it’s likely Microsoft will employ a similar model for the iPad version, though no details have been shared thus far. Development is well underway, it’s just a matter of Microsoft coming through to meet the needs of users who predominantly use touch-based devices. Microsoft is already acknowledging an all-touch future with its Windows 8 platform, and it sounds like the full cycle will be complete soon enough.