Microsoft and Apple have been peddling rival technologies for many a long year but, on some things, common sense and public demand dictate that there needs to be some element of cooperation.

So it was music to the ears of businesses everywhere this month when Microsoft announced the long-awaited release of the iPad version of its popular Office productivity suite.

[themecolor]First full touchscreen optimisation[/themecolor]

While web-based alternatives have been offered in the past, this is the first time the suite has been properly optimised for the touchscreen controls of Apple’s flagship tablet device.

Satya Nadella made the announcement at his first official launch event since taking over from Steve Ballmer as Microsoft’s CEO.

The release has been separated into three applications – PowerPoint, Word and Excel – and has already proved popular among iPad users.

Shortly after the release was confirmed, Word took the top spot in Apple’s App Store ‘most downloaded’ chart. Excel and PowerPoint reached third and fourth place respectively.

Speaking at the event in San Francisco, Mr Nadella said the decision was about ensuring people can be productive using Microsoft’s software across all platforms. He added: “We are taking great focus and great care to make sure Office on any device shines through.”

[themecolor]Apps are free but they will cost you[/themecolor]

While the new applications are available to download for free, they require the user to have a subscription with Microsoft’s cloud-based Office 365 before full access is given. Some customers, including small business users, will be offered discounted subscriptions, however.

Office Mobile, which was designed for smaller smartphone screens, used the same policy when it was released in June last year.

The release signals Microsoft’s growing willingness to embrace the devices of other manufacturers. In the past, the company has been known to release programs exclusively for its own hardware.