Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has revealed that the company is planning to bring Office to the iPad with a touch user interface. Speaking at a Gartner event in Florida today, Ballmer said "iPad will be picked up when... there's a touch first user interface." That touch first interface appears to be making its way to the Windows version of Office first, with the iPad edition to follow afterwards. Ballmer noted the touch first interface is "in progress." Microsoft has previously released an Office version for iPhone without support for the iPad, noting at the time that tablet users could make use of Office Web Apps in the browser instead.
Ballmer's confirmation follows a similar topic of discussion by Microsoft's chief operating officer during the recent company meeting. Insiders have revealed to The Verge that Turner expressed the "need to own the productivity experience across all devices." Microsoft's head of applications and services, Qi Lu, also commented on touch versions of Office at an analyst meeting recently. Lu said the company is "working on touch-first versions for our core apps in the Office suite," and that Microsoft will "bring these apps to Windows devices, and also to other devices in ways that meet out customers' needs." It's unclear if Microsoft's Office for iPad app will require an Office 365 subscription like the iPhone version, and when the company plans to introduce it. Microsoft teased touch-based versions of Office for Windows 8.1 earlier this year at the company's Build developer conference. A special "Metro-style" version of PowerPoint was shown, but Microsoft refused to commit to a release date.