There have been rumours before of Microsoft Office Mobile being released on non-Microsoft platforms, particularly from the Apple-centric news websites. Yesterday we had some much more specific details on when the Office suite is expected to be made available. The Daily states “Microsoft will launch Office for iPad on Nov. 10”. Also on the same date Microsoft Office will be released for Android devices.
The information source of The Daily is purported to be someone from the Office Mobile Development Team. “We’ve learned that the development team within Office Mobile finished its work on the project last month, and the efforts of the design group wrapped soon after. The app is now in the hands of a usability team that appraises software that utilizes the Metro design language for “Metro compliance” and suggests changes as needed. When approved by the team, the app likely will go to Apple for app store approval, which could take a couple of weeks.
Some sites are speculating about why Microsoft would release the jewel in their software crown to these competing platforms in a market where Microsoft is struggling to gain ground. Well the basic answer is obviously money; Office sales on these alternative platforms, just like Office for Mac OS X would be lucrative. Microsoft could give out Office Mobile for free on Windows smartphones and tablets while other platform users pay. Also the Mobile Office suite could leverage Microsoft’s other services like Skype and Skydrive on iOS and Android while providing a taste of the Metro interface.
Would it be smarter to keep Microsoft Office Mobile exclusively for Windows mobiles and tablets or make Office available on as many mobiles and tablets as possible? If the rumours are correct then Microsoft has decided on the latter.