Microsoft says touch-first Office will come to platforms like iOS and Android

Daniel Bader

September 22, 2013 11:56am

Microsoft’s ambling route to becoming a devices and services company is becoming more understandable.

In the days before the company’s Surface 2 launch, and a day after their Financial Analysts Meeting, revelations about a touch-first Office have been made apparent. For starters, Microsoft is planning to bring a “Metro-style” Office app to Windows 8 and RT. Yes, even though Office 2013 is slightly optimized for touch screens, we’re talking about a touch-first app with big action areas and likely a smaller, simpler feature set.

But when asked about other platforms, Qi Lu, the Microsoft’s EVP of Applications and Services said, “We are working on touch-first versions for our core apps in the Office suite, Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and we will bring these apps to Windows devices, and also to other devices in ways that meets our customers’ needs, and the customer value of those experiences, and in ways that economically make sense for Microsoft, and at a proper timetable.”

The source of this information, Paul Thurrott’s WinSupersite, emphasizes that only Office for iPad is currently in the cards, but it’s likely Android tablets will have their own version. In the meantime, Microsoft is keeping fully-fledged Office to itself, for Windows 8 and Windows Phone, while iOS and Android phones have pared-down versions for Microsoft 365 subscribers.

Despite rumours to the contrary, these versions will unlikely come to market before the middle of 2014, and the Android version is probably going to come way after iOS. Google likely saw this coming as it just yesterday made Quickoffice, a tablet-optimized app capable of editing Word, Excel and Powerpoint documents, free for its users on Android and iOS.

Whether Office for iPad or Android tablets will still be relevant — or necessary — but the time they’re released is a question Microsoft is likely grappling with, but it appears that Google and Apple independently have their own solutions to deal with its absence.

  • Patrick Serrano

    well that’s good

  • Jeff Slater

    In true Microsoft fashion this’ll come out four years after it would have been relevant, when the iPad first launched, long after everyone stopped caring.

    • Shoey5

      Don’t think Office is one of those applications that “won’t be relevant” any time soon….

    • kEiThZ

      True. But I also think the switch will happen faster and sooner than people think.

    • Shoey5

      And what switch would that be, and more importantly why? Would love to hear this one

    • kEiThZ

      A plethora of solutions. Let’s start with Google docs. Quickly becoming the standard among students.

      And watch what happens in a few years, now that every iOS device will come with iWork built-in.

      Remember when Microsoft had a strong presence with Windows Mobile? Or what about when Internet Explorer dominated?

    • Shoey5

      You’re describing kids playing pretending to be grown ups. That’s what I love about Apple and some Android users, it’s like giving them a Toy Train and letting them pretend to be running a Train Station…..
      You are seriously comparing Google Docs and iWork to Office?
      You know there is a lot more power to Office than just writing essays right? Companies have hundreds of apps invested in Office components, it’s a lot more power than just writing a crappy essay or using it to spell check plethora….Not to mention the licensing/flexibility/support that goes behind it. Google Docs and iWork will always be there for kids, but if you want to grow up, you won’t keep your job long if you try suggesting replacing Office with Google Docs or iWork, unless of course you work for a company who considers Starbucks their office address…
      Windows Phone surprisingly has been getting ahead of IOS in a lot of Countries, last time I checked IE was back on top….

    • kEiThZ

      Quite similar arguments were made for Microsoft dominating mobile. Who wouldn’t want a “real” operating system like Windows Mobile? How did that work out?

      To start with, who really cares about what Office is capable of? We all know, that just like college, 90% of us don’t use the full functionality of Office anyway.

      Next, those kids who are “playing” today are learning habits and forming opinions about technology that they will carry into the workplace. And guess what, today, it’s entirely possible to grow up without actually touching a Microsoft product. I would never have ever believed such a reality possible in the past. And yet, I know quite a few friends whose kids are growing up Microsoft-free and its entirely accidental. They happened to have Macs, iPads and Playstations in the house.

      Not saying MS won’t be competitive in the next few years. But I have my doubts that I won’t see Office lose its prominence once Gen Y really starts moving into the workplace. And the ones coming after them are even more agnostic on tech.

      As for Windows Phone getting ahead of iOS, that’s happening in a handful of tiny, poor, irrelevant markets. Oh, WP is beating iOS in India substantially. Double actually. WP at 5%. iOS at 2.5%. Too bad about the 90% share that Android has in that smartphone market though.

      The arrogance that reeks through your post is rather typical. And as an engineer, I can almost understand it. But guess what, the guys who give you your paycheque don’t really care as much about the tech as you do. And when the Gen X and Ys start getting into the C-Suite and it’ll happen once the Boomers start hitting the skids at the end of the this decade, MS is going to suddenly face an uphill climb.

  • Alpine

    lol there is surface 2 coming out? you know what they say about hit and miss ?! well its miss and miss for microsoft!

  • Shoey5

    This seems be common practice with all of them…Apple, Microsoft, Google…will minus Apple of course all release first and “better” implementations for their own platforms. Microsoft being more in the business of providing software solutions takes a better approach and releasing good implementations for other platforms as the want more users in their technologies were as Apple and Google take the approach of wanting to try to get more users into their platforms.

  • Tpickles

    Doesn’t Google Drive and office suite pro offer a lot more for a lot less. I got office suite pro for android when it was on sale but i think it usually goes for $7 as a one time charge but office 365 is $100 a year. And if your on iOS wouldn’t iWork and thier cloud storage work just as well?

    • saqrkh

      Office 365 also includes 5 PC installs of Office 2013 and 5 installs of Office Mobile…plus 20GB of additional SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype per month. So no, I don’t think Google Drive and Docs offer “a lot more…” even though they cost “a lot less.”

    • Tpickles

      Drive allows as many devices as you want, your not limited to 5 devices. Drive also gives you 15GB of storage which if its just documents is a ton of stuff. And if your really needing skype its $2.99 a month for unltd. North American calling to my recollection

    • saqrkh

      But my point was that you get 5 PC installs of full Office 2013 with Office 365, i.e. a full powered productivity suite.

  • Kyouya

    I think this is Microsoft’s way of saying “You screwed us on our Youtube app for Windows Phone 8. Now, it’s our turn.”

    • saqrkh

      Yeah, but Office is still coming to Android, eventually. YouTube and other Google apps for Windows/Windows Phone? Not so sure.

  • kerryforrest

    I hope it works better than Office 2013 does. I only have to repair it each time I reboot the pc and add the serial afterwards… Its so bad I never want to reboot the PC. And the support, well… Saw over 10k people looked at the article my office 2013 won’t open, an article that only has other users trying to share how they bootstrapped it.

  • ambleThought

    Maybe they can afford to loose a few more years while they make up their minds as to what type of company they really are.


    Is there a single copy you can just buy with a one time pay? Subscription with software is getting out of hand especially with people that don’t have or don’t want to use their CC. lol

    I have Office 2010 on 2 systems and LibraOffice on another (works with Office docs), I probably won’t need 365 anyways.