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Once upon a time, Microsoft Office for iPad was was hailed as the office suite that would make Apple's tablet a worthy work product for professionals. And now, years after the device's first appearance, it appears (via a report from ZDNet), that we may get it after all. The big question, of course, is if it's too late to matter.
According to ZDNet, we may see Office for iPad before we even see the "touch first" version designed for Windows tablets. That's a big switch from what we heard last October, when former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the "iPad will be picked up when...there's a touch-first user interface."
Image of CloudOn via Cnet
In the words of ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley, "According to one of my contacts, Ballmer OK'd the suggestion by the Office team that they'd bring Office for iPad to market as soon as it was ready, even though that would likely mean before the Windows 8 version. I'm hearing that new date for Office for iPad is some time in the first half of calendar 2014. (My sources last summer were hearing Office for iPad wouldn't debut until Fall 2014.)"
ZDNet wasn't able to learn how we'll be able to get our hands on Office for iPad. In all likelihood, much as with the disappointing Office Mobile app that Microsoft announced last year, it'll require a subscription to Office 365 and it'll probably store documents in the cloud with Microsoft's OneDrive service.
Unfortunately for Microsoft, unless a company needs Office for specific features (such as Track Changes, which always seems a little wonky in iOS-based competitors), plenty of iOS-based office suites--including Apple's own iWork--have stepped in to fill the gap since 2010. It'll thus be interesting to see if the new product launches with a bang or a whimper.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.