We think of a lot of products, hard and soft, when we hear the word "Microsoft:" MS-DOS. Mice. Ergonomic keyboards. Flight Simulator. None of which are really making any money for MS these days.
No, that honor's reserved for Microsoft Office. As you can see from Silicon Alley Insider's chart, for the last three-plus years, Office has been MS's money-printer; even Windows, in all its recent flavors, is in third place, while the entertainment/devices and online-services sectors are pretty much loss leaders. (Yeah, Zune, we're talking to you.)
Now, couple that with a recent story from T3, who got a chance to take a sneak peak at Office for Mac 2011. When the reporter asked Microsoft Senior Product manager Mike Tedesco if an iPad flavor of Office was in the works, Tedesco carefully replied, "Yeah, it's something that we're looking at…Obviously the announcement (of the iPad) is really fresh and there's nothing to announce or nothing that I can talk to you about today. We've had tablet technology forever and both Windows 7 and Windows Vista automatically detect that and you can be running your Office on there." (The T3 story makes it clear that Microsoft is more interested in HP's recently-unveiled Windows 7 tablet.)
So there's no "official" plans to create an iOffice flavor — and yet it makes all the sense in the world. Remember, for all the vaunted advantages of the Macintosh, it was originally Intel PC's running Microsoft OS's that penetrated the business market in a huge way — a marketplace the Mac's graphical and multimedia strengths have only recently gotten a foothold in. An Office for iPad implementation would benefit both Gatesville and the House of Jobs: Microsoft's cash cow would get another revenue stream, and Apple's tablet could position itself as a business solution that works with the productivity software you probably already use.
Heck, it might make the heads of both companies celebrate, a la David Brent: