In other words, he believes there's an opportunity now, and for several years, for Microsoft to sell Office outright to tablet owners. It could later, of course, decide to stuff the suite into Office 365.
How soon could Office for iOS and Android appear? Previous speculation -- going back years, actually -- had most recently claimed that Microsoft would launch a mobile suite in late February or early March, dates that have already come and went.
Purdy declined to be pinned down on a launch timeframe, but did assert that -- with the work Microsoft's already done to produce Office for the ARM processor-based Surface RT -- it could be ready to ship within six months of getting a green light from CEO Steve Ballmer and the corporation's board of directors.
"I think there's an opportunity to have something in the fourth quarter, if [Microsoft's leadership] gave it the go-ahead," Purdy said.
Not surprisingly, the company has dodged questions about its plans for iOS and Android. A month ago, Kurt DelBene, the president of the Office division, sidestepped a question about his iOS plans during a Morgan Stanley-hosted technology conference.
"We don't take it from the point of view of, 'Do we need to have the PC software that's running on a PC running on every single device?'" said DelBene at the time. "We look very much at what is the experience that we're looking to have on those devices."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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