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Office for Android, iOS pushed back to late 2014?

New apps for Windows slabs to come first

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Post-PC professionals who are hoping for a version of Microsoft Office for their Android or iOS fondleslabs may have to wait another year or more, if new information purportedly leaked from Redmond proves to be correct.

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reports that a confidential source has shown her what looks to be an authentic roadmap detailing the first few phases of "Gemini," the hush-hush project aimed at delivering the next major refresh of Office.

If that document is accurate, then Microsoft isn't planning to ship "iOS/Android support for Office" until fall of 2014, at the earliest.

That late release date is sure to disappoint eager Redmond-watchers, many of whom had been expecting the software giant to deliver mobile Office apps early this year. Some sources have even gone as far as to cite dates – March 2013 for iOS, they said, and May for Android.

Microsoft itself has remained mum on the matter, though it has confirmed to El Reg in the past that "Office will work across Windows Phone, iOS, and Android."

What that really means, however, nobody knows, and the phrase "iOS/Android support for Office" doesn't shed much light on the matter. Maybe Microsoft is developing full-fledged versions of Word, Excel, et al. that run on phones and tablets. Or maybe "support" just means stripped-down viewing apps for Office documents. It looks now like we won't find out until next year.

There is at least one major Office update due to arrive in 2013, however, assuming the leaked roadmap is correct. The first "wave" of Gemini will reportedly deliver Windows Store versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote for Windows 8 and Windows RT by this October.

These app-ified versions of the core Office components will be designed to augment the desktop versions, rather than replace them, and they will be more touch-centric than their full-grown cousins.

If the current version of the OneNote app found in the Windows Store is anything to go by, that means they'll offer only basic editing and viewing functionality, but they'll have clean, pared-down UIs that cater to poking and swiping – which is a good thing, given how lacking the desktop Office 2013 apps' touch controls are.

After that, the next wave of Gemini reportedly won't come until April 2014. That milestone is said to include a new version of Office for Mac – another good thing, since the last OS X version shipped wayyy back in October 2010 – and a refresh of Office for Windows Phone.

Another thing on the menu for April 2014 something called "Office RT," which is a bit mystifying, given that all Windows RT devices already come bundled with a version of Office 2013 for ARM. It's possible that Microsoft plans to add more components to this version of the suite, such as a much-needed Outlook client.

Only after all of this – which probably means October 2014 – will we finally see some kind of Office apps for iOS and Android, whatever form they will eventually take. Again, this assumes that the purported roadmap is indeed genuine and that it won't change (or hasn't already).

The Reg asked Microsoft whether it could confirm the roadmap and whether it was true that plans to deliver Office components for Android and iOS had been pushed back from an earlier release schedule. Just like Foley, we were told only, "We don't have any information to share about the next set of updates to Office." ®

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