Office for iPad set for release once Windows tablet version drops

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has revealed that Office will be coming to the iPad in due course.

Microsoft Office 2013

Microsoft Office will be made available to iPad users, CEO Steve Ballmer has confirmed, but not until a touch-enabled version of the productivity suite is launched for Windows tablets.

Ballmer made the revelation during a speech at the Gartner Symposium ITXpo in Orlando, Florida, in front of an audience of CIOs, many of who are Microsoft customers.

The software is primarily designed for use with a keyboard and mouse, he said, but the company is working on touch-enabled version for tablet users.

"iPad will be picked up when...there's a touch first user interface," he said. "That's in progress for Office."

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The software giant released an iOS app for Office 365 users, allowing them to view and edit Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents using their iPhones, back in June.

Although the online version of its productivity suite was reportedly compatible with the third generation of iPad upwards, the user experience was tailored solely for use with iPhones.

However, a native version of the Office app has been in demand for some time, especially as the take-up of iPads has accelerated among the business user community.

Adam Holt, a Morgan Stanley analyst, claimed earlier this year that Microsoft has lost out on billions of dollars by failing to release an Office application for iOS users.

According to his firm's calculations, the software giant could be making an extra $2.5 billion a year through the release of an Office for iPad app.

"Office on iPad could be a several billion dollar opportunity," Holt wrote in a research note at the time.

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"While [Microsoft] has resisted offering a full version of Office for the iOS, the company may ultimately decide there is more upside with Office on iPads, particularly if Win[dows] tablets fall short of expectations."

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