A touch-optimized version of Microsoft's flagship productivity suite will be landing on the iPad before it arrives on the Surface or any other Windows-powered slate for that matter.
An Office app of sorts is already available to download for "free" for the iPhone -- "free" because it needs a paid-for Office 365 subscription to work thoroughly -- but until now there has been nothing available for tablet owners who want to get productive. Nor is there currently a version of Word, PowerPoint or Excel that has been optimized to make the most of Windows 8's touch interface.
However, an iPad version of Office is expected to debut in the App Store before the end of July.
According to ZD Net, which was the first tech publication to reveal the existence of the iPhone app and its launch date, Microsoft has decided to get a version of Office out for the iPad ahead of one for its own tablet devices and the launch date has moved forward.
At the moment, the only thing that isn't clear is what owners will have to do to get the most out of the app's features. Will it be a one-off payment or will users have to sign up and pay for an Office 365 or OneDrive (Microsoft's cloud storage service) subscription in order to save and edit files?
Although the growing popularity of mobile devices is changing the way many consumers work and play, and despite the growing competition from new services such as Evernote, Office is still the de facto suite of applications for everything from word processing to spreadsheets. But the longer that Microsoft drags its feet in getting those programs ready for tablets, the more consumers will start looking to Google Docs or Apple's iWork suite to fill the gap.