Microsoft soars on Office-for-iPad report

March 18 Tue Mar 18, 2014 12:24pm EDT

March 18 (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp's shares scaled levels last seen in the dotcom boom on Tuesday following reports that the company plans to unveil an iPad version of its Office software suite, potentially generating billions of dollars in revenue.

Reuters reported on Monday that Microsoft Chief Executive Satya Nadella would unveil the iPad app at an event on March 27 as part of the new CEO's "mobile first cloud first" strategy.

Microsoft has had iPad and iPhone versions of Office primed for several months now, sources told Reuters, but the company has dallied on their release due to internal divisions, among other things.

Analysts said the lack of an Office version for the iPad may have robbed Microsoft billions of dollars in revenue. (Reuters Insider link: reut.rs/1gC77rr)

"We estimate that if 10 percent of the iPad install base were to subscribe to Office then this could add 15 million subscribers and generate $1.1 billion to $1.5 billion in consumer Office subscription revenue per year," Bernstein Research analyst Mark Moerdler said in a note.

Microsoft shares rose as much as 5 percent to $39.90. The stock had last touched $40 in July 2000.

Investors have urged Microsoft for years to adapt Office, its most profitable product, for iPhones and iPads and devices using Google Inc's Android software - rather than shackling it to Windows as PC sales decline.

Moerdler said he did not believe that the app would have any significant positive or negative impact on Microsoft's Windows franchise as majority of corporate customers use Windows.

Microsoft already offers Office Online as a free Web-based version, and on its Windows smartphones.

Google Inc has been making inroads into Microsoft's Office software business with its free Google Drive application, which includes spreadsheets and word-processing tools.

Last year, Apple offered free upgrades for life on its iWork business software, which includes rival applications to Microsoft's Excel, Word and PowerPoint, for Macbooks, Mac computers and iPad.

Shares of the Redmond, Washington-based company were trading at $39.60 on Tuesday morning on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Soham Chatterjee in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)