Microsoft's DelBene: Want Office on an iPad? Use SkyDrive

Microsoft Office division president sheds no new insight on when, or even if, the software giant will offer an Office app for iOS, instead encouraging iPad and iPhone users to view documents through Microsoft's Web storage app.

Jay Greene
Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
Microsoft Office division President Kurt DelBene, at an event in 2010 Ina Fried/CNET

If Microsoft is cooking up an Office app for iPhones and iPads, Office division President Kurt DelBene isn't saying.

DelBene gave little insight into the possibility, bandied about for the last few years, at Morgan Stanley's Technology, Media & Telecom Conference this morning. During a question-and-answer session, DelBene noted the premium tablet experience for Office is on Microsoft's Surface RT and Surface Pro devices, which run Windows 8. As for iOS devices, DelBene said that users can view Office files, such as Excel spreadsheets, on Microsoft's SkyDrive storage service.

"We think we have a pretty good cross-device product today," DelBene said. "In the future, you should expect to see us bet on SkyDrive" even more.

During the session, DelBene also noted that the acquisitions of Skype and Yammer, both of which are being integrated into Office products and services, has helped Microsoft develop new skills at rapid product development. Throughout its history, Microsoft has focused largely on multiyear product development cycles. Skype and Yammer are pushing Microsoft to quickly evolve to the faster pace of developing Web services.

"The way they do software is real-time," DelBene said. "They think a quarter ahead."

That thinking is fueling the development of Office 365, Microsoft's subscription-based productivity service. DelBene dubbed the service a success and noted that Microsoft ultimately hopes its entire Office business shifts to a subscription model. But he recognizes that it will take time.

"We have aspirations that we ultimately might get there," DelBene said. "But it's a journey."