back to article Microsoft may pick iPad for first release of Fondleslab Office™

The first tablet-optimized versions of Microsoft Office could debut on the iPad, if a recent report holds true. Veteran Microsoft correspondent Mary Jo Foley cites company sources when reporting that the first Windows 8 tablet build of Office, dubbed "Gemini", is now on pace to arrive on the market after the company releases …


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  1. Denarius Silver badge

    sounds familiar

    heard stories years ago that Apple versions of MS products were often developed months ahead of Windows version due to better APIs, despite primitive OS underneath. At least it is a sign that MS management are on track doing business, not ideology.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      They desperately need to make money after the Surface fail.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sounds familiar

      Not to mention the very well regarded Apple team, at Microsoft, who seem to get on with the job largely unemcumbered with politics.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: sounds familiar

        The well regarded Apple Team?

        Ah, you must mean the 'heretics' for not being a gazillion percent indoctrinated with things like

        'MS can do no wrong', and

        'The IT world belongs to MS and other companies are also-rans'?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sounds familiar

      At least it is a sign that MS management are on track doing business, not ideology.

      I'm rather reluctant to have an iThing polluted with MS' next attempt to break into a market they didn't build. They tend to do OK in the market they control, but not so brilliantly outside that ecosystem. I have one copy of MS Office installed somewhere for if a client require the messed up x format, but internally we now use LibreOffice exclusively on Win 7, Linux and OSX. Same format, same functionality, cross platform compatible, OpenDoc compliant - our needs are not complex so why waste money? I could thus be interested in even a stripped down ODF editor, but the full monty is IMHO simply not a good fit for a tablet.

      Personally, I have gone back to basic, almost LATEX alike facilities to create content. The combination of Ulysses on the desktop and Daedalus on the iPad works just fine for me (once I sorted out a sync method that did not involve iExportMyDataToTheUS iCloud), and it doesn't distract with WYSIWYnG (never Get) features. You first create structure, then content, then design - Word is a curse if you create text (I know authors who live in fear of their old computer collapsing because they still use WordPerfect on DOS for that exact reason).

      So, nice idea, but not for me. And in all of this I haven't even mentioned the ribbon...

      1. abit

        Re: sounds familiar


        This is the 2014's, people do get by of what you hate.

        Liking it has absolutely nothing to do with living it.

        1. DiViDeD Silver badge

          No, not familiar at all


          This is the 2014's, people do get by of what you hate"

          OK, I've run this one through me logic circuits forwards and backwards. I'm sure it's originally derived from English (or possibly another Germanic language, or something that shares similar roots), but even after careful scanning, I still have no fscking idea what it says.

          Is this the new Shoreditch language 2.0 paradigm thing we've been told about?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: sounds familiar

      I don't think it is that; it is that Office has to have much deeper integration in Windows because of all the stuff it has to play with, while on Mac OS it doesn't. Nothing to do with the underlying OS being "primitive", as it was as true on Mac OS 8 as on Mac OS X.

    5. LDS Silver badge

      Re: sounds familiar

      LOL! Windows 8 on tablets already run the full Office because the API Office uses are the same Windows 8 has.

    6. CheesyTheClown

      Re: sounds familiar

      I can't speak from internal knowledge, however I have developed software (large scale) on both platforms. I can honestly say from experience that Mac OS (pre X) APIs were amazingly difficult to develop for in C and C++ compared to Windows (even 16-bit). This generally was because Apple never bothered to add APIs for many tasks and also because when they did, you often had to spend ages searching through header files for functions since documentation was terrible at best, missing in most cases.

      An example would be a simple task of changing a window title. You'd write code in assembler to wait for the CRT refresh, then alter the memory location of where the fixed length window title was stored before the screen was redrawn. This was the officially unofficial way of doing it because there was no API to change the title after the window was initially created.

      Probably the biggest job involved in transforming NeXT Step into a Mac OS was development of the Carbon API which finally made full APIs for app development on OS 9 and later OS X. It was insanely difficult because the old Mac OS code was so littered with pre-object oriented APIs and other legacy garbage. Even the simple concept of a message loop didn't exist in the old OS.

      OS X was a nightmare for developers since the good APIs were off limits from a C application and nearly impossible to reach from a C++ application. ObjC could call C which could call C++, but it didn't work well in reverse. This was solved around 10.4 or 10.5, but until that time, companies like Microsoft had to write Carbon applications because otherwise they wouldn't be able to reuse code from their other platforms.

      If I were to speculate, Microsoft would probably have Mac versions done before Windows versions because they had 1/10th the features. No COM/OLE, no scripting, no support for apps like Visio, no publisher, etc... Office for Windows was just had many more features which had to work. Office for Mac was used mostly by individuals where Office for Windows was a business application.

      1. a__d

        Re: sounds familiar

        Very true: I suspect that it was more a question of market size and demographic: mac office users are a much smaller test audience, but one that doesn't shy away from pointing out mistakes in an office implementation (Word 6 for Mac, was not well received): so MS have for years been testing out feature ideas in the mac version, which usually comes out about a year before it's windows counterpart. They're often just germs of ideas (the 2006 office v.X formatting palette was like a portrait prototype of the 2007 ribbon, for example: a fix was needed for the toolbar and "selective" menu insanity in 2006 which led to so many support incidents, and problems displaying the UK on small screens, but the collapsing vertical panel approach in v.X proved ungainly and took up too much horizontal space on screen: especially if you were using track changes - and the idea of making it fade was just distracting, it didn't allow you to see more screen, which makes the ribbon a good evolution to a best of both worlds approach by taking the categorized buttons idea but using the toolbar / menu area at the top of the screen, rather than the document canvas, which is so much more important to users in most of the key office apps). And, of course, if they have to pull back a feature in the mac version because it isn't well received, some fanboys will bitch, but it's not like you're upsetting millions of enterprise users, or causing a Windows vista / 8 style industry panic... (As has been seen in the OS: apple users soon came around to admin based application permissions (UAC) and losing their apple menu (start menu)) - and that's the risk of this approach: perhaps Apple users have a different degree of pragmatism to their windows counterparts, or perhaps like being told what to think by a not-1984-like-at-all computer manufacturer to a greater degree than the rest of the it using world...

      2. abit

        Re: sounds familiar

        "Office for Mac was used mostly by individuals where Office for Windows was a business application."

        So it was! While you were coding I was growing but I remember. I looked at those IBM OS/2 - man, Win3.x at the time OS/2 looked invincible and they were. I bought OS2 copy, then I downloaded Win3.x for free through Compuserve, bought a copy on some 14 floppies of Slackware at premium at the local "shareware" store. I only had one 386 so I went with Win. Blame me, I had so many choices I was confused.

        See my post, no one wins this time, Office Software? Who cares. Sell crosses to the Vatican instead.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The Metro framework was far too limited to create any serious application and it was most likely the case that as Microsoft developed the Metro UI version of Office they would push the limits of the framework and require the Metro team to make changes/enhancements.

    On iOS however most platform wrinkles have already been resolved by other developers or those limitation understood an accepted, MS just had to do what they could on that platform.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I struggle to see how Office could be useful on a tablet

    Typing a multi page Word document on a touchscreen? Using touch screen to select cell locations in Excel, then typing in the values, then scrolling.

    Using a keyboard/mouse is just way more efficient. Sure, you can use a keyboard cover which sucks slightly less, but at that point, why not just get a Macbook Air / Ultrabook and do it properly?

    For viewing Office documents and making quick edits, sure. But you don't need full blown Office for that, and I have a feeling Microsoft is going to try to charge the same price as desktop Office.

    1. LarsG

      Re: I struggle to see how Office could be useful on a tablet

      I agree, I have Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

      When I first transferred my allegiance to the Dark Side I was worried that I would miss all my Windows productivity stuff. I don't.

      Why would I want Office?

    2. Lusty

      Re: I struggle to see how Office could be useful on a tablet

      " I have a feeling Microsoft is going to try to charge the same price as desktop Office."

      Office isn't sold like that any more with even business licences going Office365 only this year. These days you buy a user licence which gives you rights on up to 5 devices. If your company licences you for office on your company PC under Office 365 you should get this iPad version included in that along with your home PC and laptop. All you need to do is enter your email address.

      I imagine it will be a free app in the App Store with in app activation although not sure how Apple will cope with that.

      1. Captain Queeg

        Re: I struggle to see how Office could be useful on a tablet

        That's pretty much the model with iphone office.

        Bundle the app with a 365 access plan and authenticate against that.

        I wonder if MS will make some sort of mobile centric plan though, say 375 on one desktop and a handful of devices?

        Actually,I'm quite a convert, I always sneered about this kind of app on touch, but numbers in particular has converted me for general use. The operating UI (especially losing legacy controls) is the key and MS don't have feel to have a great track record there...

    3. Blitterbug

      Re: I struggle to see how Office could be useful on a tablet

      Actually I have some disabled clients with highly limited mobility and manual dexterity, for whom a traditional PC is just not feasible. For the bedridden, a small tablet can be placed on a tilting overbed table, possibly with a bluetooth keyboard on the lap.

      Why should people like this be denied access to full-fat word processing and accounting packages? My most recent setup was a Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1 for a lady who writes plays and other creative writing; I chose this solution among other reasons 'cos it ships with a full office suite that supports .doc and .docx, plus a decent level of voice assist.

      1. Captain Queeg

        Re: I struggle to see how Office could be useful on a tablet

        I suffered a stroke last summer and it's left me with issues typing with my left hand.

        Siri, Dragon Dictation and iWork have literally saved my career.

        This is being dictated using a quality Plantronics headset in a quiet room and I've deliberately not corrected any mistakes there may be. Having used it all for a few months, there's an approach to dictation that allows software tools to get it right pretty much ninety nine percent of the time,

        If Microsoft can arrive at this level of usability with enterprise integration, I'm sold.

      2. J 3

        Re: I struggle to see how Office could be useful on a tablet

        Well, I'm sure glad these people found a good way to stay productive/happy/whatever and all that... but I suspect that's not that big of a market, is it?

        1. Blitterbug

          Re: Well, I'm sure glad...

          Sarcasm not really appropriate in this context, tbh.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I struggle to see how Office could be useful on a tablet

      You can use a keyboard with an iPad y'know. There's plenty of bluetooth options.

  4. Charles Manning

    Well Duh

    We know MS drinks its own KoolAid, but at some level a bit of financial sense must kick in.

    iOS is surely easier to develop for, having been around longer and bing more stable. They probably had something ready to ship a year ago or more.

    It makes sense to release the product and make some money from it (*)

    With the old PC-vs-Mac releases, it could always be argued that the PC market share was bigger and therefore a PC-first release strategy was applied. Now iOS has the market share, so the iOS-first release makes more sense.

    (*) Assuming people actually want to buy and run Office apps on their tablet.

  5. jake Silver badge

    One more sign that microsoft ...

    ... is in a death spiral.

    Note that I'm not a Cupertino fanboi.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: One more sign that microsoft ...

      I don't necessarily disagree with your 'death spiral' thesis, but how does this particular news item confirm it? For many years, Microsoft have developed versions of Office (occasionally more advanced* ones) for Apple platforms.

      * For some sufficiently small value of 'more advanced'.

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: One more sign that microsoft ...

      MS Excel was available for Macs before it was available for Windows. This is nothing new.

    3. PJI

      Re: One more sign that microsoft ...

      I am under the impression that Microsoft is, mainly, a software firm. Yes, the software extends from operating systems to utilities; but it is still software that can be adapted to run on any platform MS chooses. They make money either way.

      So, if they decide that Apple kit provides a good market for their software, it is just good sense to cover it. They did not reach their current size and profits through stupidity.

  6. Bladeforce

    Way too many people

    Overstate BloatOrifice its just not a system seller

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    'I heard' = Misheard years ago you mean.

    Methink you might have made that up.

    The OS/X versions of Office have normally been crude limited versions grudgingly served up by Microsoft.

    There are better mobile office packages around so is this really worth waiting for?

    1. Archivist

      Re: 'I heard' = Misheard years ago you mean.

      As usual with arguments, the truth is somewhere in between.

      Hardly "grudgingly". The Mac team at Microsoft are highly regarded and efficient, but it's not always feasible to port all the features to both platforms. Sometimes the Mac version is late, or has a missed feature. On the other hand they produce a Mac-like experience for the user and the occasional "easter egg" feature.

      Of course Microsoft are doing the right thing releasing Office for iOS. Office is their cash cow, and losing sales of their own tablet to Apple WILL HELP their balance sheet too!

  8. Vociferous

    Wasn't stand-alone Office supposed to go the way of the dodo?

    On the PC businesses are supposed to switch to subscription-based Office 365, while stand-alone is gradually phased out, but this seems to fly in the face of that? Has Microsoft changed its mind?

  9. tin 2

    If it's anything like the iOS version of Lync (that forgets to list your favourite contacts, mucks around with your phone book, and doesnt even kn

    ow what wor

    d wrap is) then it will sink without trace

  10. Tom 35

    Not expecting much

    I don't use iOS any more but from the Office 365 Android app, where they only allow you to install on a phone, and not a tablet, and it's worse then some of the free apps, and wants to log on to check your subscription all the time.

    They may release it on iOS first, but I'm sure they will find a way to cripple it so the Windows version is "better".

  11. Mikel

    Microsoft iOS app

    Of course there is no way a Microsoft app would try to destroy your iOS experience. The company has a long history of playing nice with others.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft iOS app

      You mean like iTunes on Windows?

  12. spegru

    What's the real news here?

    That it's not for Android.

    What, developing anything that works with the Linux kernel?!

    If that does ever happen we will know that MSFT have truely lost the plot.

    Meanwhaile I'm looking forward to a Libreoffice for Android!

    1. phil dude

      Re: What's the real news here?

      in principle that should not be too hard... But I understand that libreoffice made some sort of conscious decision to move away from Java (I think it started in java..? ).

      You could always get Sailfish OS and then just run the Android bits you want...


    2. M Gale

      Re: What's the real news here?

      LO for Android?

      Well it's not exactly LO, but here's something that is very, very close.

  13. LDS Silver badge

    Windows 8 tablet users are using Office 2013 already....

    Who wrote this article? I'm using Office 2013 on my Surface 2 Pro and it works flawlessly. What should I wait for? Why should I use the web based version of Office 365 - which remember - it's just an option because Office 365 delivers you the whole Office 2013?

    This article looks only like fanboy FUD.

    1. Tom 35

      Re: Windows 8 tablet users are using Office 2013 already....

      If you make it past the headline you will see... "The first tablet-optimized versions of Microsoft Office"

      Office 2013 (and yes I have it on my POS Surface RT) is a desktop application with some touch bits tacked on.

      As long as the keyboard is attached the current software is likely better then any not-Metro UI Office thing that they are likely to come up with but that's a different story.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Windows 8 tablet users are using Office 2013 already....

        Who needs a "touch optimized" version of Office? It would be just a dumbed down one. Ahh, I understand now why IPad needs it - it needs a dumbed down version for dumbed down users.

        The fact is still Windows 8 users have the full Office at their fingertips, and I can't see who is eagerly awaiting a Metro version which will be just less powerful and less friendly to use.

        After all when I am creating documents I'm doing it with a keyboard and a mouse attached because it is far way faster and more productive. When I'm just displaying them I could do without.

        But saying that Windows 8 users have to use the Office 365 web applications is plainly wrong and silly.

        I really don't know who would use a touch-optimized version of Office on any Windows 8 device - one of the reason to buy a Windows 8 device is exactly being able to run the full Office, and not a neutered version that could be good for Android or iOS users which lacks the capability to run professional applications.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will it have vba support? no? ok not interested.

    1. stizzleswick

      Honestly, I wouldn't be...

      ...interested in anything that had Visual Bollocks support... VBA being one of the major problems I have encountered whenever I was administering Windows-based networks. The less VBA, the better. And yes, go ahead and flame me. I am fully aware that an incredible number of companies survive on VBA script-gloms, and of the size of some of those companies--the fact that some of those companies basically live and die by VBA is rather scary to me. My point being that they should switch to proper programming and let go of their main source of hackability.

      Mine's the one with the LibreOffice print on it...

  15. abit

    ABC on DEF? MS? iKnowYou?

    None of this make any difference.

    MS is in the crunch against again the Open already driving business elsewhere.

    I work for one Office advocate, Excel is still brain-dead talking to some MS-SQL corpse.

    Mac users may back up their plans, hopes and dreams. I for one archive reality - more cheesy than the past was, and maybe less appealing.

  16. kevin king

    i already use Office on my Ipad with CloudOn been rocking it for around 2 years works like a dream

  17. N2 Silver badge


    So long as theres a free trial & it costs about £10

    anymore & its doomed


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