In a statement issued to the New York Times' Bits blog this morning, a Microsoft spokesperson said "The Daily story is based on inaccurate rumors and speculation," adding that the company had no further comment on the matter.
For those unfamiliar with the realm of public relations, that's a more pleasant way of saying "that's bogus."
The original report, which was published earlier today in The Daily by Matt Hickey (a former CNET Crave contributor), claimed to have a hands-on with a "working prototype" of the Office software for the iPad. Hickey said that the app was soon to be on its way to Apple's app review team for publishing on the App Store, and could be used to create and edit Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. This was a follow-up to the outlet's report in November of Microsoft working on such a tool.
Microsoft currently has more than 20 apps for Apple's iOS platform, though most serve as companion applications for their PC counterparts. Short of a pocket companion version of its Kinectimals franchise (iTunes), Microsoft has offered its apps free of charge, something that would be unlikely to be the case for Office, which is one of the company's longtime moneymakers.
Whether Microsoft would expand its efforts to include a more full-featured offering on a rival platform, and ahead of the release of its upcoming, tablet-friendly Windows 8 software is of great interest. So far Microsoft hasn't made a similar app-like jump with the Office suite on the Mac, where it sells Office 2011 only as a suite, and as a digital download through its own store versus using Apple's Mac App Store. In an interview last year, the company said it hadn't ruled out such an option, which would give 30 percent of the digital sales to Apple.