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Microsoft quiet on Office for iOS as evidence grows of its existence

Microsoft is continuing to skirt around the possibility of releasing a version of its Office productivity suite on Apple's iOS devices, despite mounting evidence that it is secretly developing one.

At present, the only way to run a true version of Microsoft Office on a tablet device is to use a Windows RT-based tablet like Microsoft's own Surface RT, which comes bundled with a tablet-centric cut-down version of Office, or a Windows-based tablet like the Surface Pro, onto which the standard desktop version of Microsoft Office can be installed - or to rely on software that allows you to connect to a real or virtual desktop to run Windows applications.

Microsoft first hinted it was working on a version of Office for Apple's iPad tablet range last year, when its Czech division released a press statement claiming that Office 2013 would be launching on iOS, Android and Symbian platforms. While the original February launch date appears to have been missed, fresh details emerged pointing to a March launch date for the tablet-friendly Office version.

Office is one of Microsoft's biggest cash cows, and a move onto the iPad - as well as the growing number of Android-based devices out there - makes sense, but also comes with its own problems. Currently, one of the biggest selling points of the Surface RT and other Windows RT-based tablets is the bundled version of Microsoft Office; release a similar version for iOS, and that selling point will be lost.

Microsoft is still remaining tight-lipped about the situation. Having retracted the press release made by its Czech division - claiming a miscommunication had occurred - Kurt DelBene, head of the company's Office arm, recently dodged direct questions about the issue and refused to comment on whether Office for iOS is going to be released any time soon.

Analysts believe the company would be crazy not to, however, with one going so far as to claim the company is ignoring a potential $2.5 billion in revenue by keeping the tablet edition of Office a Windows RT exclusive.

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