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Ballmer: MS Office for iPad 5 on the way

An iPad version of Microsoft Office is in the works, according to outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer.

As reported by The Verge, Ballmer told attendees at a recent Gartner symposium that Microsoft's Office suite would eventually land on Apple's tablet. But Microsoft is still working on a "touch first" interface for the iPad version of Office, so no word on when to expect an official release.

During a September appearance at Microsoft's financial analyst day, Ballmer talked about developing for non-Microsoft platforms. "We don't have our heads in the sand," he said. "We are working away on all the things you think we should be working away on." PC World interpreted that to mean Microsoft Office on the iPad and Android tablets.

Redmond has introduced its productivity suite for the iPhone and Android phones, but it has not yet been released for non-Windows tablets. Not surprisingly, Redmond's upcoming Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 will support the company's Office suite.

Of course, chatter about Office for iPad has been making the rounds for ages, but hearing it from Ballmer makes it a bit more official.

Ballmer will be leaving Microsoft in the coming months, and in a recent shareholder letter, he argued that the company "took many bold steps forward in executing on our strategy" in the past year. That includes the "One Microsoft" effort, the purchase of Nokia's handset business, and a new internal reporting framework.

"As I think about what's ahead, I'm incredibly optimistic about what Microsoft will deliver," Ballmer wrote. "We are accelerating as we bring to market Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets with our partners, Surface 2, Xbox One and new phones; advance our enterprise services including Windows Server, Windows Azure, Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365; and innovate on new high-value activities."

Ballmer's successor has yet to be named. A few options have made headlines in recent weeks, including Ford chief Alan Mulally. More recently, the New York Times speculated that Bill Gates would be welcomed back as CEO, but the paper acknowledged that it would be a "long shot." That comes after several Microsoft shareholders joined forces in an effort to oust Gates as chairman of the board, but it seems likely that he will be re-elected.

Image: Flickr (The CBI)