Microsoft could be bringing Office to iOS

Microsoft reportedly is working on an iPad version of its popular business software suite, Microsoft Office, and it could be hitting the iTunes App Store in the next few weeks.

That’s the story from The Daily, which claims it discovered the existence of Microsoft’s iOS-based Office app back in November. Now, citing unnamed sources, it’s reporting that Microsoft is readying the app to be submitted to Apple, putting it just weeks out from showing up on an iOS tablet near you. The story also includes an unverified image of the app running on an iPad.

Like Microsoft Office on PCs and Macs, the suite comes with all of Microsoft’s longtime heavy hitters: Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel. It would allow users to create and save documents among the different programs offered in the suite and, presumably, import them from other locations and computers in order to edit them. That could be a pretty high degree of functionality that the iPad hasn’t been offered before, and it’ll be the first time that Microsoft’s official apps have been available to interact with other Microsoft programs on different platforms.

Reportedly, the Office app includes elements of Microsoft’s new programming language, Metro, which will be apparent in the user interface it presents in the app. Microsoft is using Metro in basically everything it’s currently creating, including Windows 8, updates for its Windows Phone mobile platform and other apps it’s developing. Among those is an update for the currently available Microsoft OneNote, the iOS note-taking app created by Microsoft. The Daily says you can expect a Metro-infused OneNote to correspond with the release of the Office app.

According to The Daily’s report, though Microsoft Office is coming to iOS, you won’t see an equivalent on Google’s Android platform. That could be an interesting development, given the prevalence of Microsoft’s business software around the world and among the large segment of the population that still uses PCs. If those people want to switch their productivity while traveling or otherwise on the move to a tablet, they’ll need an iPad.

Apple’s iPad remains the king of the tablet space, but Android is definitely making inroads, mostly by expanding the market beyond users who want the iPad. A recent report found that Amazon’s low-priced Kindle Fire took the No. 2 slot in the fourth quarter of 2011 behind the iPad. Microsoft Office’s usage is widespread enough that adding it to the iOS stable, while foregoing Android, could very well have a notable effect on which devices potential buyers decide to pick up during 2012.

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