Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) may be ready to cave in to the dark side.
The blogosphere was buzzing yesterday after the software giant's Czech Republic team issued a press release, indicating that Microsoft Office will be available by March of next year as a native app for Android, iOS, and even Symbian mobile devices.
"It's about time," iPhone, iPad, and Android fans may be saying, but what would this mean for Microsoft?
It's clear that PC sales have been struggling, and that's bad news for Microsoft. It may be the top dog when it comes to desktop and laptop operating systems, but it's way behind Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android in the tablet and smartphone gadgetry that's selling briskly these days.
Access to Microsoft Office -- the suite of productivity programs that includes Word and Excel -- was probably the best reason to get excited about this month's debuts of Mr. Softy's own Surface tablet. What's the point in buying a Surface if native apps are coming to iPads and cheaper Android tablets?
Naturally, Microsoft is denying the story.
"The information shared by our Czech Republic subsidiary is not accurate," Microsoft's head of corporate communications tweeted shortly after the story broke. "We have nothing further to share."
Let's hope so.
Sure, there may come a time when Microsoft has no choice but to spoon with the enemy. There are already plenty of third-party apps that bridge the gap by letting users create and manipulate Microsoft Office files on their iOS and Android devices. If Microsoft holds on too long -- and iOS and Android grow too popular -- new standards may arise, and that would be a major blow to Microsoft's second-largest product (by revenue).
One can also argue that Microsoft Office is already making itself operating-system agnostic by pushing toward the cloud. However, it will still be hard to be a buyer of Microsoft when the day comes that one of its products becomes the recipe to wean its customers off of its flagship product.