A big frustration for iPad, iPhone and Android OS users is that they can't use the Microsoft Office suite on their mobile devices. A big frustration for Microsoft Office is that these mobile users might be able to do so soon—but a Microsoft executive accidentally let the cat out of the bag a little too early.
Sure, there are plenty of third-party apps allowing you more or less recreate the features and functions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and the rest of the Office suite on a mobile platform. But there has never been a genuine, fully compatible version of Office for iPad, iPhone, and Android phones and tablets. According to a verbal slip-up by a Microsoft executive, that genuine Office for iPad and Android may be on the way.
The Czech news site IHNED reported early Wednesday morning that a Microsoft executive confirmed a native version of Office is coming to iOS and Android in early 2013. (Can you read Czech? Here's the report.) Tech blog The Verge then obtained a Microsoft press release confirming that Office is coming to iOS and Android. "Office will be also available on other operating systems, Windows Phone, Windows RT, Mac OS, Android, iOS and Symbian," the press release reportedly says. "Office 365 services and other Office products for mobile (phones and tablets) will be released from March 2013."
Office 365 is really just an email and calendar client for the mobile platform. The holy grail, of course, is Word and Excel on a smartphone or tablet. And Microsoft, for its part, says there is nothing to see here.
"The information shared by our Czech subsidiary is not accurate," Microsoft said in an email to Computerworld. "We do not have anything further to share at this time."
Read that again. It's what we call a "non-denial." As in, they never deny the central claim that Office is coming to iOS and Android.
A U.S. spokesperson for Microsoft told The Verge, "We have said previously Office Mobile will work across Windows phones, Android phones and iOS."
Office Mobile is the mobile version of Office for people with Windows phones. How many people do you know who have a Windows phone?
This all hides a secret debate you'd figure must be taking place within the walls of Microsoft's Redmond, Wash., headquarters: Do they release Office to iOS and Android users, a megabucks proposition if each user pays $5-10 a pop for the app? Or do they keep Office a Microsoft-only property, forcing Office users to buy the Windows Phone 8 and Surface tablet for any hope of using Office on a mobile platform?