This is not a surprise, but a welcome confirmation for the millions of business citizens and students of the world who have already adopted Apple's tablet as a work tool: Microsoft Office could be coming to the iPad in the next few weeks.
The Daily claims they got its hands on a working prototype of the app, which apparently reminded them of Microsoft OneApp, with a Metro interface philosophy. It will be full Office: capable of creating Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents from scratch, as well as editing them. They claim that Microsoft is going to pass on an Android version for the time being.
Microsoft releasing Office for the tablet of its archenemy is really not a surprise. The iPad is overwhelmingly dominant at this point. Tens of thousands of business and corporations are quickly adopting it as their main workhorse. It's a good platform for IT departments, who are able to easily control the whole thing and greatly cut down on maintenance costs because of its closed nature. And business users love it.
So, given the size of the market, it's only logical that Microsoft wanted to take it. After all, its main business is Office, not Windows. Ballmer and Co. just can't afford to ignore the iPad steamroller taking over workplaces and universities. Or wait for their own Windows 8 tablets.
We will have to wait until it's released to see how well it works. Clearly, for Word documents creation you will need a physical keyboard (which exist aplenty). For Excel and Powerpoint, most users will really not need a physical keyboard, as data entry should be easy enough with onscreen keyboards. Editing and review—which is what most people do most of the time—should be good without a physical keyboard. Which is precisely why the iPad has become so popular in these environments.
Back in the day, old timers like me used to say that a platform wasn't a serious working platform unless you had two applications available: Office and Photoshop. Well, it seems at least one of those is imminent, just in time for the ultra-sharp and powerful iPad 3. Clearly, tablets are not a fad, but the future.
Unfortunately, no details or screenshots have been released yet. [The Daily]
Update: According to Bits, Microsoft says that The Daily's report is "based on inaccurate rumors and speculation." The key word there is "inaccurate." The strange thing here is that The Daily says it got its hands over a prototype version in their original story.