Thursday, April 11, 2013

Leaked Office roadmap pushes out Office for iOS and Android to fall 2014

The last time we discussed a release date for Microsoft Office for iOS, the date was March 2013. That month has come and gone, though. A roadmap leaked on Wednesday, though, casts doubt on end users seeing any sign of Office for iOS -- or for that matter, Android -- anytime soon.

The product hasn't even been announced, but almost like -- though not quite as long as -- the rumored iWatch, seems like something that should be a done deal. However, the roadmap for Gemini, the wave of Office releases coming over the next two years, says it won't be available until fall of 2014, about a year and a half from now.

The roadmap lists iOS / Android support for Office for fall of 2014. While not specifically listing whether or not the support would include the iPad (or Android tablets), one would assume that Microsoft, given that much time, would have its productivity app across smartphones and tablets.

Why is the release pushed out so far? There are at least two Gemini releases before it.

"Gemini wave 1.0" includes the "Blue" Metro-Style / Windows Store adjuncts to the core set of Office products -- namely, more touch-centric versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. These will work on both Windows 8 and Windows RT, but will supplement rather than replace, their current Win32 versions. The roadmap said that these apps will be available by October 2013.

"Gemini wave 1.5" is slated for April 2014. The wave will include the next version of Mac Office and an update to Office for Windows Phone. Microsoft also plans to release a version of Office customized for LSX hardware ("large screen experience" or Perceptive Pixel large-screen, multi-touch hardware) at that time.

The vague "Office RT" is also projected for April 2014. This is likely a refresh of the desktop versions of the current Office 2013 RT suite that Microsoft ported to ARM and bundled with Windows RT.

For some reason, also, it appears that Microsoft might be holding back Outlook RT until the fall (October) of 2014.

Those releases all need to be out of the way before Office for iOS / Android appears.

Still, why not push something out sooner? There's apparently a big roadblock: Apple's 30 percent cut from apps in the App Store. Microsoft -- as you might expect -- is no fan of giving nearly 1/3 of its take to Apple. While that seems to make sense, it also doesn't make sense.

Although there is no Microsoft-developed Office for iOS or Android, there are third-party apps that do quite a good job at allowing read / write functionality for Office files. An 18 month wait for an iOS / Android version might mean that those who need such functionality would have already moved on.

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