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Microsoft Office for Android, iOS tipped for March 2013 launch

Fresh rumours have appeared regarding a potential iOS and Android release for Microsoft's Office productivity suite.

Currently, the only way to edit Office documents - including Word, Excel and PowerPoint files - on mobile devices is to use third-party software or to own a Windows RT tablet. Based on a cut-down version of the Windows 8 operating system designed for ARM processors, Windows RT includes a version of Microsoft Office that, while basic, provides improved compatibility and a more familiar interface than most third-party applications.

Soon, however, users of other mobile platforms could enjoy the same functionality. Following a slip by Microsoft's Czech press department back in May that a version of Microsoft Office for Android and iOS tablets and smartphones was being developed, fresh details have leaked suggesting that the apps are both real and are planned to be offered free of charge.

There is one slight catch, however. According to anonymous sources speaking to The Verge, the apps will be view-only by default, letting users access and view files created in Word, Excel and PowerPoint providing they have a Microsoft Account. Edit access will be available, allowing for on-the-move modifications to existing documents or the creation of entirely new documents, but will require a subscription to Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 product to unlock.

Thus far, while Microsoft has admitted that Office for Android and iOS exists, no firm launch date has been provided, with the latest rumours pointing to a release for the iPad in late February or early March next year and for other platforms from March onwards.

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