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Monday, October 22, 2012, 02:31 pm PT (05:31 pm ET)

Rumor: Apple planning cloud-based iWork suite for iPad to fight MS Office

Apple is reportedly working with VMware to bring a cloud-based, business oriented version of its iWork suite of apps to the iPad, with the partnership said to be directed squarely at Microsoft's rumored release of Office for iOS.

iWork


According to CRN, people familiar with the project claim that the initiative looks to undercut Microsoft's exorbitant pricing for MS Office by offering a cloud-hosted version of Apple's iWork suite, which includes Pages, Keynote and Numbers.

"Apple wants Pages to be seen as a replacement for Microsoft Word, Numbers as a replacement for Excel and Keynote as a replacement for PowerPoint," one of the sources said.

The system is thought to incorporate VMware View virtual desktop software with cloud versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers, which will be running on Apple's servers. Interestingly, the service will be separate from iCloud, which currently hosts "Document in the Cloud" for syncing and downloading files between iOS and OS X devices.

As iWork has traditionally been aimed at consumers, the rumored partnership could yield a totally separate offering for enterprise class customers, with the cloud-based software offering a more powerful set of features when compared to iCloud.

It appears that the rumored suite will be a central hub for business customers as the two companies are looking to leverage Horizon Mobile, VMware's software that allows personal and business apps and data to be stored on two different partitions, alleviating IT concerns with the bring your own device (BYOD) movement. Also part of the solution is VMware's Horizon Application Manager, a tool sometimes described as an app store for enterprise.

Not much is known about how Apple plans to implement the project, though it could feasibly be compatible with machines running Windows. This would account for VMware's contributions, including Virtual View, as well as the purported suite's location on non-iCloud servers.

The source failed to offer a launch timetable, however the rumored solution could debut before Microsoft releases an expected iOS version of MS Office in March 2013.