As Microsoft readies its version of Office for iPads and iPhones, Apple and VMware are teaming to build an iPad cloud-hosted office suite that will let organizations ditch Office entirely, CRN has learned.
According to sources with knowledge of the project, the iPad app combines VMware View virtual-desktop software with cloud-hosted versions of Pages, Keynote and Numbers -- known as the iWork suite -- running on Apple infrastructure. VMware's Horizon Application Manager, a management tool that has been likened to an enterprise app store, is also included, sources told CRN.
Apple and VMware are also working together on Horizon Mobile for iOS, part of the Horizon Suite VMware showed off at VMworld, which is slated for beta release by the end of the year. Horizon Mobile creates a partition between the personal and business apps and data on a device to solve IT concerns with the bring-your-own-device trend.
The infrastructure that Apple is building for iWork is a separate offering from iCloud, Apple's consumer-focused storage service. Sources did not have any information on when the cloud-hosted iWork suite will be released or what it will cost.
The iWork suite has been primarily aimed at consumers since Apple launched it in 2005. But with Microsoft reportedly planning to launch an iOS version of Office next March, Apple is recasting iWork for businesses in order to challenge Microsoft's Office cash cow, sources told CRN.
Apple's last major update to iWork came in 2009, when it debuted iWork.com, a service that allowed users to share files online. Apple launched iCloud last October and shut down iWork.com in July. With the release of OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Apple introduced Documents In The Cloud, a service that syncs data from Pages, Keynote and Numbers on multiple devices using iCloud.
"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 source familiar with the project told CRN.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the project. A VMware spokesperson contacted by CRN declined comment, citing the company’s policy of not responding to rumors or speculation.
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