Microsoft Office is finally coming to the iPad with Microsoft’s new chief executive, Satya Nadella, expected to announce the product at an event in San Francisco today.
Rumours surrounding the launch of the suite of programs, that includes Word, Excel and Powerpoint, had been circulating for years.
The decision follows a period of intense debate within Microsoft about the multi-device rollout of the product – as it mulled over the implications for its own efforts to make a tablet computer.
Insiders claim the company was conflicted. It didn’t push forward with the apps partly because it saw the availability of Office for Windows devices, including Microsoft’s own Surface family of tablets, as a way to differentiate its operating system.
In hindsight, it turned out that Office didn’t help much with sales of the Surface – which came out in late 2012 – anyway.
Skeptics claim that the software is arriving too late for the iPad. That’s because the delay has given people who use iPads, especially business professionals, years to get used to using the tablet without Office.
Start-ups like Evernote, Quip, Smartsheet and Haiku Deck, along with Apple’s own iWork suite of applications, have filled the void left by Microsoft with productivity applications that work on tablets and other devices.
The new Office product will test whether one of the great successes of the PC era can thrive in the age of mobile devices.
Over the last decade, Office has generated approximately $180 billion in revenue for Microsoft, according to estimates by Nomura Securities.
For years, whenever someone bought a new PC for their home or business, they usually bought Office to go with it.
In the past, Microsoft has created software for other devices. It made Word for the Macintosh in the mid-1980s, and more recently released iPhone apps for its Bing search engine and other services. It offered an iPad version of OneNote, a note-taking application in the Office suite, more than two years ago.