A top Microsoft Corp executive side-stepped questions on Tuesday about any plans that the software maker may have to bring its Office suite of applications to Apple iPad.
Talk has circulated for more than a year that Microsoft wants to bring native versions of its most profitable product to the hot-selling iPad, which one analyst estimates could generate $2.5 billion in extra revenue for Microsoft per year, but would remove an incentive to buying Windows-based tablets.
"We don't take it from the point of view, 'Do we need to have the PC software that's running on every single device?', we look very much at 'What is the experience that we are looking to have on those devices'," said Kurt DelBene, head of Microsoft's Office unit.
Mr DelBene, who took over leadership of Office from Stephen Elop who left to lead phone maker Nokia in 2010, did not directly address putting native versions of Office applications on the iPad, a subject Microsoft has steered clear of in public.
"We've actually done a lot of work on iOS devices this time around," said Mr DelBene. "We have enhanced the web applications pretty substantially, in partnership with Apple," Mr DelBene added.
Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Holt estimated earlier this month that Microsoft could generate $2.5 billion in extra annual revenue from Office on iPad by next year, less the commission Apple would take on sales of Office through its App Store.
But the risk for Microsoft is that putting Office on the iPad takes away one of the key advantages of its own Surface and other Windows tablets, that already run Office natively.
Removing incentives to buy windows tablets would be a blow to Microsoft's flagship Windows unit, which although less profitable than Office, is still key to the company's overall strategy.
"I think we've done a great job on both the consumer side, particularly with the web apps that we are building, and on the enterprise side as well," said Mr DelBene.
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