Microsoft’s productivity suite will be making its way to the iPad before the middle of the year according to Mary Jo Foley. The iPad version would be the first tablet version of Office after iPhone and Android smartphone apps were released by Microsoft last year.

The apps are free to download for both iOS and Android but require a login from a valid Office 365 subscriber. Each Office 365 subscription allow for five mobile sign-ins, which means that most households could get away with having one Office 365 subscription for everyone. (A good thing considering that the annual price has increased by R100 since we last checked to R750/year.)

According to Foley one of the major reasons for the delay has been the fact that Microsoft has been working on a new tablet version of Office for the Windows 8 ‘Metro’ tablet interface and former CEO, Steve Ballmer, wanted to release it before the iPad version made it to market. Subsequent negotiations between Ballmer and senior management have, according to Foley, resulted in the release of Office for iPad being prioritised for the moment it becomes ready.

Even though Office is one of Microsoft’s biggest money earners and releasing it for iPad would be generate massive amounts of revenue for the software maker, Office for iPad has been a contentious issue. While the iPad has been very successful in finding its way into the corporate world, many companies have had to instead opt for Windows tablets because of their heavy dependency on the Office suite of programs.

Office for iPad would almost certainly have a negative effect on Windows tablets sales killing off the licencing fees that Microsoft makes on every Windows machine sold. However the accompanying Office 365 subscriptions needed to activate the software would result in more money for Microsoft and most importantly that money would come in every year as a result of the subscription model.