Android, iPhone and iPad owners have longed to see Microsoft’s successful Office suite ported to the popular mobile platforms built by Google and Apple, respectively, and it looks like they're finally in luck.
A source from within Microsoft says the company is currently building versions of Microsoft Office for iOS (including separate apps for iPhone and iPad) and Android, but unfortunately for those users, the release date for those ports reportedly won’t arrive until late 2014.
The alleged 2013-2014 roadmap for Microsoft’s wave of Office updates called “Gemini,” which was shared exclusively with ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley, says Office for iPhone, iPad and Android won’t arrive until October 2014, but Microsoft will release many Office-related updates sooner.
Microsoft will reportedly roll out two “Gemini” updates prior to the release date for Office on iOS and Android. One of them is “Wave 1.0” in October 2013, which is said to include the “Windows Blue” updates to Microsoft’s core set of Office products, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. The updates reportedly will endow the apps with more touch-centric features for Windows 8 and Windows RT. The second Gemini update, “Wave 1.5,” will reportedly release a new version of Office for Mac, Office for Windows Phone, and refreshed versions of Office RT for ARM-powered desktop PCs, which would likely include improvements to Word RT, Excel RT, PowerPoint RT and OneNote RT.
This is what the full release schedule for Gemini looks like:
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Gemini Wave 1.0 (October 2013): Windows Blue app updates
Gemini Wave 1.5 (April 2014): Office for Mac; Office RT refresh; Perceptive Pixel support; Windows Phone support refresh
Gemini Wave 2.0 (October 2014): Outlook RT; Office for iPhone, iPad and Android
This reported Gemini rollout is said to introduce the full Metro Style and Windows Store-optimized versions of Microsoft’s most popular Office apps. Despite Microsoft's heavy investment in Windows 8, OneNote and Lync are the only two Office applications that have been released in Microsoft’s Metro Style thus far.
Microsoft spent the past year pivoting away from solely selling Windows applications to refocus its attention on selling services that work across multiple platforms. With the release of Office 2013, Microsoft opted to adopt a new subscription-based model called Office 365 Home Premium, which allowed families to install the software on up to five different devices in a household for $99 a year. In addition to the Office suite, Microsoft also offered subscribers the ability to access their content on any Windows 7- or Windows 8-connected PC with an extra 20 GB of cloud space in SkyDrive.
This subscription-based model is just the start of Microsoft’s strategy with Gemini. In the future, Microsoft will ensure new applications are supported by Web- and cloud-based services like Office 365 and Skydrive from the get-go, which is a considerable deviation from Microsoft’s past software strategies that rarely focused on the online demographic.
When asked about Microsoft’s plans to update Office 365 and its various ports to Mac, Windows RT, Windows 8 and other potential platforms like iOS and Android, a spokesperson from the Microsoft Office team said: “We are always improving Office 365, so the notion of a ‘next version’ is outdated. That being said, we don’t have any information to share about the next set of updates to Office.”
The first reports of Office coming to iPhone, iPad and Android surfaced in November 2011, when Rupert Murdoch’s late tablet-only magazine The Daily discovered Microsoft’s plans to release a version of Microsoft Office for the iPad. Three months later in February 2012, sources again told The Daily that Microsoft’s Office app would "soon be submitted to Apple" for approval in its App Store. Either those reports were false to begin with or Microsoft delayed its release date for Office.
When Microsoft Office didn’t appear on iOS or Android in 2012, The Verge said in November that Microsoft would finally release its mobile Office on iPhone, iPad and Android in early 2013, citing “several sources close to Microsoft’s plans.” Unless Microsoft surprises the public with a spring 2013 release of Office for iOS and Android, we have every reason to believe Microsoft will roll out Office on those platforms only after it has already addressed its own Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows RT platforms in 2013.