At the 1997 Macworld Expo, the crowd erupted into boos when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs announced a startling new partnership with Microsoft. The Microsoft and Apple logos appeared together on a large screen. The crowd gasped.

While the crowd detested Bill Gates' involvement with Apple at the time, what that audience didn't know -- and what some still don't understand -- is that Apple and Microsoft are ultimately friendly rivals. Both companies have partnered with each other over the years, despite many bumps in the road and differences in basic philosophy. The very first Microsoft apps, Word and Excel, were featured on Apple's original Macintosh, and Microsoft's software later helped save Apple when Steve Jobs returned to his ailing company in 1997.

Microsoft continues to make software for the Mac, but the company has never built any of its most popular apps for Apple's iOS platform, including iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. That looks like it's about to change.

In November 2011, Rupert Murdoch's tablet-only digital magazine The Daily discovered that Microsoft was planning to build a version of Microsoft Office for the iPad. On Tuesday, sources told The Daily that the Microsoft Office app will soon be submitted to Apple for approval in its App Store. The app could arrive in early March, would be just in time for Apple's iPad 3 unveiling.

Sources add that Microsoft is not building a version of Office for the Android platform, but that could change over time. Microsoft is also reportedly updating its OneNote iOS app, which is the company's supercharged note-taking app that uses Microsoft's cloud service Skydrive to sync notes across devices. 

Microsoft already has several apps available on the iPad and iPhone, including Bing, MSN OnPoint, MSN Onit, Windows Live Messenger, Wonderwall, and Microsoft Tag. However, Microsoft's Office suite, which includes Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, has been the company's most successful software platform by far. Business Insider believes Microsoft Office earned more than $15 billion in revenue in 2011.

Files made in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint can be both created and edited on a local desktop computer and online. If Microsoft ports the software suite to the iPad, it's possible that documents created in Microsoft Office apps could sync with Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac via iCloud. This would make creating and updating documents extremely easy to do.

The launch date for Microsoft Office for iPad is not yet known, but since the design team has reportedly wrapped the project, users could expect the app to debut in the coming weeks. If Apple times this right, Microsoft Office could be the One More Thing on the company's third-generation iPad, which is reportedly set to debut on March 7.

With many reports revealing how Apple did not alter much in the iPad 3, Microsoft Office would without a doubt be the iPad 3's killer app. The iPad 3 is said to feature an improved camera, a bigger battery, and a dual-LED backlit system to power an 2048 x 1536 true HD display that looks, according to a source who spoke to The New York Times, truly amazing. Apple's dual-LED solution makes the iPad's screen noticeably brighter, but it also apparently solved several puzzling issues with heat dissipation and battery consumption. 

The iPad 3 will reportedly be powered by a new A5X chip, which could be either a dual-core or quad-core processor. Code discovered Code discovered within the device revealed the model number S5L8945X; for reference, Apple's A4 model number was S5L8930X, and the A5 chip was S5L8940X. The S5L8945X chip is likely a step between a high-end dual-core processor and a low-end quad-core processor.

The iPad 3 will also apparently be the first Apple iOS device to feature the high-speed LTE network. The Wall Street Journal confirms that AT&T and Verizon Wireless are getting ready to sell an LTE-capable iPad, which could achieve faster download and upload speeds compared to 3G technologies.

With an improved display and fast innards, the iPad 3 could be the perfect device to launch Microsoft Office for iPad. Users are excited for the hardware upgrades, but if they know that there's a prominent software upgrade as well, consumers will likely make this iPad the most successful Apple tablet release in history.