In bringing Office to iOS, Microsoft is playing a dangerous game

It’s still not official, but the evidence that Microsoft is bringing Office to the iPad and iPhone is growing in abundance. At this point, it seems to be an inevitability that Redmond will release Office apps for iOS in some form in early 2013, with Android apps following soon after.

In so doing, the company stands a good chance of cementing the role of the iPad as a business tool, eroding the advantages of Windows Phone 8 and undermining the entire value proposition of Windows RT. It will also hole Microsoft’s argument that the iPad is “just” for content consumption below the waterline. The upside of Office on iOS? That’s harder to fathom.

According to the Verge, Office for iOS will ship as a set of free apps (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel—OneNote is already available for iOS) that will allow viewing of their respective document types. Limited creation and editing will be enabled through purchase of an Office 365 subscription.

Should this come to pass, Microsoft will not just be banging a nail into the coffin of Windows RT and, by extension, its Surface tablet. It’ll be digging the grave, tossing in the body, and then unloading a few tons of concrete into the hole to ensure that there’s no risk of reanimation.