A brief primer on Microsoft Office for iOS rumors

After years of rumors, Microsoft's Office finally comes to Apple's platform on Friday. Here's a quick breakdown on how it got here.

James Martin/CNET

We can now safely say that rumors that Microsoft was working on a version of Office for Apple's iOS platform weren't false. They were just early.

But boy has it been a long road to Friday, when Microsoft made it official by releasing its Office Mobile for iPhone app -- which is officially dubbed "Office Mobile for Office 365 subscribers" in the iTunes Store.

Reports that Microsoft was aiming to bring a version of its productivity software to Apple's mobile platform date all the way back to February 2010, just a few weeks after the the iPad was unveiled in San Francisco, and more than a year and a half after the debut of the App Store. Since then it's been a trickle of vague feature lists, misfires on release dates, and increasingly honed denials and no-comments from Redmond.

Here's a quick timeline on when this all started, and the turns along the way.

February 2, 2010
In a since-removed interview, a senior Microsoft product manager tells U.K.-based technology site T3 that the company is "looking at" bringing Office to the recently-announced iPad. No specifics on a timeline or feature set are mentioned.

Read: CNET's review of Office for iPhone

April 1, 2010
The same month the iPad goes on sale, then president of Microsoft's business division and future Nokia CEO Stephen Elop tells Bloomberg that the company has no plans to bring Office to the iPad. However he leaves it somewhat open saying "we never say never."

September 16, 2010
Never say never indeed, says Microsoft tracker Paul Thurrott. In a simple tweet, Thurrott says "Shhh.... It's true: Microsoft is working on iPad apps."

It's unclear whether that means Office or otherwise. Microsoft ends up bringing over OneNote to the iPad (iTunes) more than a year later, along with other apps like Bing, MSN, and Lync.

November 29, 2011
Now-defunct tablet newspaper The Daily reports that Microsoft is "actively" working on a version of Office for the iPad . Microsoft avoids commenting on the report, saying it's "committed to expanding" how many platforms and devices Office is on.

February 21, 2012
The Daily follows up from its original report , saying that Office is headed for the iPad and that the outlet had even played with an early version of the software -- complete with an alleged screenshot of it. It added that Microsoft's efforts looked a bit like its already-released OneNote software for the iPhone and iPad . On top of all this, The Daily says Microsoft does not plan to release a version for Android. Microsoft fires back, saying the report is "based on inaccurate rumors and speculation."

May 23, 2012
After a brief lull, Boy Genius Report says Microsoft's planning a November release for a version of Office for the iPad as well as Android. Microsoft calls the report -- which BGR says comes from a reliable source -- "rumor and speculation."

June 4, 2012
Newcomer to the Office for iOS rumor mill Business Insider says Microsoft plans to bring Office to the iPad in November. Citing sources within Microsoft Office Sales team, the site says Microsoft is likely to introduce the product at its SharePoint conference in Las Vegas, in time for a holiday release.

October 10, 2012
Microsoft product manager Petr Bobek mentions to Czech site IHNED that Office is headed to iOS and Android in March 2013, information that's doubled in a press release, says The Verge. Microsoft says the information is "not accurate."

October 11, 2012
A day after the Czech rumor, Thurrott casually throws in some information about Office for iOS in a report about Office 2013 hitting its released to manufacturing milestone.

Furthermore, if you've seen rumors about Office 2013 for iOS and Android, they're happening, but the products will only be made available via the subscription Office offerings, and hit in April.

October 12, 2012
A smoking gun, or just some overzealous support copywriters? French site Mac4Ever spots mentions of "Excel for iPad" on a Microsoft support page. Other mentions to Word and PowerPoint for iPad are found shortly thereafter.

November 7, 2012
A post on The Verge says Office for iOS and Android is "real and it's coming to iOS first." The report posts alleged screenshots of the suite, which comprise of separate apps for Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. The software will let people view Office documents stored on SkyDrive for free as long as users have an account with Microsoft, but only paid Office 365 users will be able to edit those files on their device, the report claims. The rumored release date is "late February or early March, with an Android version due in May."

December 4, 2012
During a speech at the Nasdaq OMX Investor Program, Skype CFO Bill Koefoed notes that Microsoft will have "more to say" on Office for the iPad and Surface, marking a beginning of the company simply not denying the rumors.

December 11, 2012
A report from The Next Web reports that Apple has rejected Microsoft's attempt to publish an application for SkyDrive on iOS, something AllThingsD later says is part of a larger scuffle between the two companies as Microsoft wanted to get a better revenue split to sell Office 365 subscriptions inside of Office for iOS -- something that is said to be holding up a release of Office on Apple's platform.

April 2013
After several months of quiet, CNET sister site ZDnet posts an alleged roadmap of Microsoft Office products with a launch for Android and iOS slated for October 2014. Interestingly enough, they come without mention of any tie-in to Office 365 subscriptions, just software.

June 14, 2013
Microsoft rolls out Office for iPhone , but not iPad or Android. Yet.

 

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