Rumors Swirl About Microsoft Office's Move to iOS, AndroidIt seems that no matter where users are working, they want Microsoft Office. At the beginning of the year, there was lots of buzz about Microsoft Office on the iPad. Now, rumors are swirling about Android. An unnamed source is saying that the popular office productivity suite will make its official appearance on iOS and Android devices by the end of the year.

Office Everywhere?

Rumors about Microsoft Office and mobile devices seem to rear their head almost as frequently as tales of charities being funded by Facebook likes. The rumor mill has fired up its engines again. Boy Genius Report claims a reliable source leaked news of Microsoft bringing its full Office suite to both Apple iPad and Android tablets in November. The source said mobile version of the popular software looks almost identical to the leaked screen shots that made their way across the Internet a few months ago.

When the images of an iPad version of Office leaked in February, Microsoft representatives dismissed them as fake. However, Microsoft did not officially comment on the claim an iOS release might be in development. The company hasn’t issued a statement about the current rumors, and no new batch of images have been released.

If Microsoft isn’t working on a tablet version of Office, everyone responsible for Office product strategy should be fired. The company made a big misstep years ago when it failed to capitalize on the growing popularity of the Internet. In many ways, Microsoft is still dealing with the impact of that mistake. I doubt the company wants to repeat the performance with the mobile market.

Microsoft has a ready market of consumers. Office alternatives such as QuickOffice, Google Docs and Apple iWork exist, but most long-time Office users (like me) only begrudgingly use the apps. People want Office.

Although bringing Office to the tablet seems like a “no brainer,” the decision isn’t quite as simple as it seems on the surface. Microsoft will have to create a pricing model that doesn’t hurt sales of the desktop and cloud-based products, but still attracts users. The company will also have to adapt its somewhat complex user interface to a tablet aesthetic without sacrificing features. The issues will require some effort, but there is more than enough brainpower in Seattle to settle the issues.

Why This Matters

Users are growing increasingly mobile, but they still want access to their favorite applications from the days when they were tethered to a desk. Companies such as Adobe have already pushed their popular desktop software to the tablet market, and more than a few requests have been mounting for Microsoft’s Office. If the suite does officially come to iOS and Android this year, it won’t just be a win for individual mobile enthusiasts. The move will also increase the attractiveness of mobile devices to the enterprise.

Workers that spend their days navigating through rows and rows of spreadsheet data will be able to use Excel in all of its glory without lugging around a laptop. Last-minute PowerPoint edits will be possible in the palms of tablet users' hands. Everyone will be one step closer to working everywhere. Is that a good thing?