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Microsoft Office is coming to the iPad?!

Despite hearing about this rumoured news story in November, it looks like there may just be some truth behind it. The Daily have re-ignited speculation of Microsoft Office coming to the iPad after they claim to have had time with a working prototype and that the app is being submitted to the App Store soon for approval. Microsoft Office for iPad will apparently allow creation and editing of Word, PowerPoint and Excel to work on and offline. It is unlikely that Microsoft will be making an Android copy of the software.

Should this be true, it could potentially be Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot despite the almost guaranteed popularity of the prospective app. Currently Windows Phone 7, a rival to Apple’s iOS, boasts some qualities that could potentially make it an attractive platform.  A main reason to purchase a Windows Phone is to stay within the Microsoft ecosystem, having the best Office suite available with you, where ever you go. However, this decision could turn things ugly for Microsoft should they choose to do so. Granting a full mobile copy of Microsoft Office to the iPad could be catastrophic for a range of tablets that don’t even exist yet. This decision would potentially move most companies in the corporate world to move to the iPad, a killer blow for Windows losing all attractiveness to the Windows 8 to-be-released tablet range.

If this decision was to go through, it would show just how serious companies are taking the iPad with a serious rival set to stand aside to their biggest rivals in the market they are rumoured to be entering by the end of the year, with already ARM version of Windows 8 being produced. The timing of the release of the app is expected to go hand in hand with the iPad 3 release, perfect for Apple.

"A brief hands-on with a working prototype of the software revealed a number of new things. The app’s user interface is similar to the current OneNote app, but it has hints of Metro, the new design language that can be seen in Windows Phone and in the yet to be released Windows 8 desktop operating system."

The only competition Microsoft Office would face on the App Store would be Apple’s own iWork suite which works efficiently on iPad but has fallen short of key services needed such as DropBox support but does boast iCloud sync. The move from Microsoft could also see a step up in Apple’s own iWork ’09 suite which is already in need of change. There are also currently some free third party applications which offer a capped Microsoft Office with apps such as OnLive (US only) and CloudOn (US and recently introduced to the UK) which offer the ability to edit and create documents. 

The move could also path the way for other big name companies to bow down to Apple’s superiority with companies such as RIM desperately in need of re-inventing themselves and could possibly see BlackBerry Messenger, BBM, coming to the iPhone.