Office for iPad picture claimed fake, but Microsoft assures us it will all be clear “in the coming weeks”

We saw this Tuesday, February 21st bookended by one of the most bizarre cases of fakery/non-fakery since the iPhone 5 “leak” everyone thought was real.

The Daily leaked a purported photo of Office for iPad, a collection of Word/Excel/Powerpoint that would be bundled together as a single app and sold through the App Store. Apparently the reporter used the software briefly, too, though he didn’t describe how it worked in great detail other than to say it incorporates many of the same design elements as the current OneNote for iPad app, adding in a few Metro flourishes for good measure.

Later that day Microsoft came back and said “that is not our software,” not exactly denying its existence but merely removing itself from the responsibility for the leak. One of Microsoft’s official Twitter accounts, MSFTnews, even refuted it publicly, saying “Great respect for The Daily but regrettably someone is giving them bad info, and that’ll be clear in the ‘coming weeks.'”

That leaves even more questions. It wouldn’t seem prudent for Microsoft to release a version of Office for iPad that could potentially eat into its own sales of Windows 8 on ARM, on which Office 15 will ship at no extra cost. But it may be a good idea for Microsoft to develop a stripped-down tablet version for iPad and Android tablets, sell each app for $10 each and compete directly with Documents to Go and the iWork suite. Bundling all three apps together in a single suite won’t suite users who just want one or two of the three applications. Whether Microsoft’s tweet today intimates at something along those lines, or something completely different, we won’t know for a while.

In responding to allegations of forgery by pundits and even Microsoft itself, Peter Ha, The Daily’s Editor-in-Chief, said that “we did not fabricate either image. A working version of the app was demoed to us by someone at Microsoft.” The other image is referring to this one, showing the app icon on what is clearly the iPad’s screen. Microsoft is a big enough organization that one hand may not know exactly what the other is doing, but it seems odd that a company rep would above-board show an incomplete app to a journalist without realizing its potential repercussions. If that did happen, someone is getting fired.

The implications of a full Office for iPad could be farther-reaching than we even realize now. Microsoft is banking on the Office brand carrying a lot of its cache between disparate ecosystems, whereas the Windows brand is somewhat confined to a particular paradigm. Windows Phone already bundles a very pared-down suite of Office apps, but one would never confuse them for their desktop equivalents. A tablet version of Office will need to provide enough power-user functionality while satisfying the touch-friendly UI prerequisites that Metro is so well suited for. It can be done, but is it even that important? The iPad has gotten by for two years with no Office Suite, and competitors have sprung up its absence. Even Apple’s iWork apps are improving with every iteration, and while they may not challenge Office for the desktop crown, there is no shortage of third-party alternatives.

All this leads us to think that somewhere in Redmond there are some very ticked-off executives, many of whom are banking on an iOS Office Suite bringing in a boatload of revenue. Whether that will happen is anyone’s guess.

Via: The Verge

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