According to a Czech press release unearthed by The Verge, Microsoft may be readying native Office apps for Android. As of right now, the only programs that have mobile versions on the Play Store are OneNote and Lync. Otherwise known as "the ones very few people care about." If this report is to be believed, though, we may see native versions of the entire Office suite.
According to the Verge's translations, Microsoft said this:
"In addition to Windows, Office will be also available on other operating systems, Windows Phone, Windows RT, Mac OS, Android, iOS and Symbian"
Redmond, by way of the Czech Republic, also pointed out that there would be new versions of its Office Web Apps. The native mobile apps should be ready for consumer release by March 2013, on both phones and tablets. This puts the estimated date considerably later than the rumored November we've heard previously. No word on pricing yet, of course.
Hopefully, we'll see Microsoft actually come through on this. As official-sounding as it may be, announcements from a product manager in other countries are the kind of thing that are easy to backpedal. Still, it would make sense. The company already releases versions of its most popular Office programs for Mac and, as stated earlier, it's no stranger to Android development. Despite plenty of alternatives on the Play Store, there's still no clear winner in the productivity space. Yet, with Google having recently acquired QuickOffice, and the steady rollout of updates to Drive, Microsoft could be facing a substantial competitor if it leaves this market untapped. The only way to compete with free, after all, is to actually compete.
Microsoft has released a statement distancing itself from its Czech product manager's remarks:
The information shared by our Czech subsidiary is not accurate. We do not have anything further to share at this time.
So, maybe it's not for sure. Still, Microsoft officials have also said that Office Mobile will work cross-platform, so who knows whether the left or the right hand is correct in this case.