On Wednesday The Verge posted new screenshots that it says depict Microsoft’s(s msft) mobile version of Office for iOS. Though screenshots have circulated on the web before, these particular images are new. (Click the link above to see them.)
The app will be free, but will require a Microsoft account. For added services though, you may need a subscription. According to the report: “On first launch, a Microsoft account will provide access to the basic viewing functionality in the apps. Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents will all be supported, and edit functionality can be enabled with an Office 365 subscription.”
It’s not a secret that Microsoft is working on bringing the software to mobile devices. It’s the timing that the company is keeping under wraps. The report says “early 2013” is when we’ll finally be able to download it for Android(s GOOG) and iOS. That tracks with what a Microsoft product manager in the Czech Republic told employees last month, when he said Office for a variety of mobile devices would arrive in March 2013. Microsoft’s corporate PR department immediately refuted the dates, however.
Still, is next year too late? A year ago all the business folks getting iPads at work would have clamored for a mobile version of Office. But in its absence, many have figured out that there are other mobile word-processing apps out there. In fact, there are so many alternatives now that it’s easy to wonder how much of an impact an Office launch will have — whenever it finally debuts.
And what about Microsoft’s own tablet? Office for iOS in particular could negatively impact the company’s own Surface RT tablet — one of the key advantages is that it comes with Office pre-installed. It’s possible that Microsoft could hold back some features for the iOS (and Android) apps in order to lend its own tablet some advantage.