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Updated at 11:59 a.m. PT with an official response from Microsoft.
Microsoft’s long-anticipated Office software suite for the Apple iPad will likely launch in the next few weeks, according to a report by The Daily. However, Microsoft has denied the story.
The iPad has become a surprisingly hot device for the enterprise since its launch in April 2010. While businesses typically deploy new technology slowly, the iPad has been different as CEOs override the IT department to make the iPad a fixture. Although many developers have come to offer apps and support for the iPad, the most notable missing piece of software is Microsoft Office, the gold standard for document, spreadsheet, and presentation creation.
The Daily first reported that Office for iPad was on the way back in late November, but now its sources say the app will soon be submitted to the App Store for approval. According to the usual release schedule, the Office Suite for iPad could easily launch within a few weeks.
A Microsoft spokesperson denied the report, telling VentureBeat via e-mail: “The Daily story is based on inaccurate rumors and speculation. We have no further comment.”
The Daily claims to have had some brief hands-on time with Office for iPad and noted that “Word, Excel and PowerPoint files can be created and edited locally and online. But it’s unclear if Microsoft will support other Office apps at launch or at all.”
Because of the gaping hole left by Office not being readily available, OnLive recently launched its Desktop application that runs Office on the iPad. On top of running Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, OnLive Desktop can run many other Windows 7 apps like Paint, Media Player, and Notepad.
But the difference here will be that an Office suite designed specifically for the iPad will likely be optimized in new ways for touch and built differently. ZDNet’s astute Mary Jo Foley points out that Office for iPad sounds quite a bit like the Office for Windows 8 on ARM. It’s certainly possible that Microsoft is building the iPad app and the Windows 8 similarly to offer the best possible touch interactions with Office.
If Office launches on the iPad in the next few weeks, will you be adding it to your iPad?
Crummy Office for iPad photo: The Daily