Microsoft Office on an iPad, why so slow?

Apple’s iPad had its fourth birthday last month. The device changed the face of personal computing. It triggered a decline in PC sales that looks far from over. It’s popular with corporations and consumers.

The iPad is everywhere.

An iPad version of Microsoft Office is a perfect fit.

Apple dominates personal hardware. Google may challenge, but Microsoft is still top dog when it comes to personal business software.

I’m told the iPad version of Office has been ready, or almost ready, for months. People who have seen the software say it’s impressive.

So where is it?

According to professional Microsoft-watcher Mary Jo Foley, Office for iPad will be with us some time in the first half of 2014.

Foley says the iPad version may even see the light of day before Microsoft gets a touch-enabled version of the software out for its own Windows 8 devices. She speculates it will somehow be tied to Office 365 and the company’s cloud services – I think she is on the money there.

The story suggests the hold up could be as much to do with Microsoft’s internal politics as it is to do with technology.

Microsoft needs to get a move on. After a slow start, Apple’s own Office apps; Pages, Numbers and KeyNote are maturing into decent tools. They are tightly integrated with iCloud and are, largely, common across the iPad, iPhone and OS X-powered Macs.

Every day that passes a few more would-be Office on iPad users find Apple’s apps meet enough of their needs to fill the gap.

Presumably some at Microsoft think holding back an iPad version of Office will help sales of the company’s own Surface devices. Maybe. On the other hand, a smarter strategy would be to get a foothold for Microsoft applications and services before someone else seizes the initiative.