Office for iPad will be released only after Microsoft launches a touch-first Windows version

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A few months ago, Microsoft released the long-awaited Office Mobile on the App Store, but strangely chose to skip iPad support despite several rumors suggesting that the work on the iPad version was started nearly two years ago.

Now, it appears that the iPad version was kept on hold only because Microsoft didn’t have a touch-first version of Office for Windows ready.

The Verge reports:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has revealed that the company is planning to bring Office to the iPad with a touch user interface. Speaking at a Gartner event in Florida today, Ballmer said “iPad will be picked up when there’s a touch first user interface.” That touch first interface appears to be making its way to the Windows version of Office first, with the iPad edition to follow afterwards. Ballmer noted the touch first interface is “in progress.”

Microsoft does want Office presence on all platforms, but only once it has a touch-friendly interface on its own Windows platform. Current versions of Office heavily rely on mouse and keyboard input, which is a major reason why Microsoft had to include a desktop mode in tablet OS Windows RT, a platform that otherwise aims to leave out all legacy baggage from the past.

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While the report doesn’t give any estimated timeframe for the release, a Microsoft roadmap, leaked earlier this year, points to an October 2014 release. While Microsoft claims that it wants to “own the productivity experience across all devices” we wonder if 2014 would be too late for the company. Apple has already started giving away iWork for free with new iOS devices, and third-party apps, too, are ramping up development to offer features on-par with Apple and Microsoft.

Tell us what you think of Microsoft’s plans regarding Office for iPad in the comments below.

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