Will Office for iOS launch coincide with new iPad?

Office for iPad

The Verge has a press release from Microsoft’s Czech Republic group that confirms the company is planning to launch a native version of Office for a variety of mobile platforms next year, including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Symbian. The timing is said to be March 2013, which could be just a coincidence or great strategy: a March ’13 launch would make the software available with or near the probable launch of Apple’s next 9.7-inch iPad.

The release date target came from a presentation in the Czech Republic on Wednesday by a Microsoft product manager. The platform details are from a press release read and translated by The Verge. According to the document, “In addition to Windows, Office will be also available on other operating systems, Windows Phone, Windows RT, Mac OS, Android, iOS and Symbian.” Web versions of the apps are also reportedly on their way.

The last two years in a row Apple has introduced a new iPad at the beginning of March, with availability following a few weeks later. So it’s not a terrible bet the company will keep on the same schedule next year. While Microsoft has its own tablet on deck for introduction later this month, Apple is still the king of tablets. And as iPads continue to infiltrate cubicles and executive office suites, productivity apps have been extremely popular on the platform. Office has long been a highly anticipated app for iPad, and has been rumored to be arriving “soon” for at least a year.

But will Microsoft have missed capitalizing on an iOS version of Office by next year? Apple has already released its own iWork suite, with iOS apps like Pages, Numbers and Keynote that my obviate the need for a mobile version of Office for some. Plus, plenty of other third-party developers have filled in the blanks, releasing hundreds of productivity apps for the iPad since its original launch in 2010.

Update: Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw threw cold water on the information, saying via Twitter: “The information shared by our Czech Republic subsidiary is not accurate. We have nothing further to share.”

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