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Will Microsoft Office arrive on iPads before Windows tablets?

iOS users could be getting their hands on a fully realized tablet version of Microsoft Office before Windows fans, if the latest rumor out of the tech world is to be believed. ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley — who has better Microsoft connections than most — says Office for iPad is “alive and coming sooner than most think.”

Foley says the product is “likely” to arrive before the touch-optimized version of Office that will run in the Windows 8.1 Start screen environment. Sources suggest that Office for iPad is codenamed ‘Miramar’ and was made a priority late last year. While no fixed release date has been given, it’s rumored to be in the first half of 2014.

It’s been a long and winding road up to this point, as the speculation-o-meter has swung one way or the other as to whether Microsoft would ever release its flagship software on iOS and Android tablets. With sluggish sales of the Surface for the Redmond company to consider, it would appear that the signs are pointing to “yes” once again.

“I still haven’t heard exactly how Microsoft will make Office for iPad available,” writes Foley. “I’ve heard it’s likely to require some kind of Office 365 subscription (either corporate or Home Premium, depending on the use case).” This fits in with the Office Mobile app that’s currently available for iPhones, as long as you have an Office 365 subscription.

Microsoft Executive Vice President of Marketing Tami Reller recently commented on the issue of Office on mobile devices: “As we step back and say, these core applications, these core brands that are so important to enterprise customers and consumers, how do we make sure that we’re thoughtful about what we’re doing on the Windows platform, as well as cognizant of the fact that there’s other devices in their lives? So you’ll see us be thoughtful about how and when we bring what applications to what platforms,” she said.

With a new CEO in position, Microsoft has plenty of challenges on its plate. Keeping Office profitable and addressing the dominance of the iPad are just two of those challenges, and the company looks set to make its next play in these areas in the coming months.

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