iPhone and iPad owners have long hoped Microsoft would port its successful Office software suite to Apple's mobile platform, and while many expected Microsoft Office for iPad to debut earlier this year, The Verge weighs in with some exclusive photos and new details about the upcoming application, which is now expected to release within the first few months of 2013.
Citing "several sources close to Microsoft's plans," the Redmond, Wash.-based software giant will reportedly release "Office Mobile," the Office application containing mobile versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel optimized for smartphones and tablets, on both iOS and Android platforms in "early 2013."
Office Mobile will reportedly be a free app like OneNote and SkyDrive -- Microsoft's note-taking app and cloud service hub, respectively -- and like those apps, users will need a Microsoft account to gain access to the apps. Using these apps further requires a subscription to Office 365, but once inside, mobile users will be happy to see functional versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel right on their smartphones and tablets.
Users that haven't already purchased a subscription to Office 365 will be able to purchase one within the app itself, "or let organizations distribute codes to enable Office Mobile editing for users," the Verge added. However, besides basic editing, there are still very few details on what the mobile versions of Microsoft Office will and won't be able to do compared to their desktop counterparts.
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 iPhone and iPad, it's possible that documents created in Microsoft Office apps could sync with Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac via SkyDrive or possibly even iCloud, which would make creating and updating documents extremely easy to do.
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.
Many were originally expecting Microsoft Office on iOS to arrive in March 2012, not March 2013. In November 2011, The Daily discovered that Microsoft was planning to build a version of Microsoft Office for the iPad, and on Feb. 21 this year, sources again told Rupert Murdoch's tablet-only digital magazine that the Microsoft Office app would "soon be submitted to Apple" for approval in its App Store. Many believed the app could arrive in early March, which would have perfectly coincided with the release of Apple's third-generation iPad.
Sources at the time said Microsoft was not at work on a version of Office for the Android platform, but that "could change over time."
The release date for Office Mobile, according to an official Microsoft press release from the company's subsidiary in Czech Republic, is pegged for March 2013. According to company sources, Office Mobile will reportedly arrive on iOS first in "late February or early March, with an Android version due in May."
A Microsoft spokesman had one comment for this story: "Office will work across Windows Phone, iOS and Android."