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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Thursday unveiled Office for iPad, a highly anticipated and long overdue version of its bread-and-butter productivity software for Apple's popular tablet.

The move enforces Microsoft's recognition that it must deliver services to both businesses and consumers wherever they are, especially on mobile devices.

The app will be live for free in Apple's App Store today. You'll be able to read and present your content that way, but for creating and editing content, you will need an Office 365 subscription.

Today marks the "beginning of exploration for us," Nadella said in his opening remarks.

Office software lets you create and edit documents, calculate spreadsheets and design presentations and graphics through its Word, Excel and PowerPoint programs. Microsoft moved to a subscription model for Office last year with Office 365 Home Premium, which runs $9.99 a month, or $99.99 a year.

Mobile Office apps have already been available for iPhone and Android smartphones, with a required Office 365 subscription.

Office on iPad is "a beautiful set of applications," says Nadella, adding that the company is "taking great care to make sure that Office on every device shines through."

Last week, Microsoft stock hit its highest level since 2000 on increasing chatter ahead of the announcement. Shares of Microsoft are up 0.25% to $39.69 in morning trading.

Wall Street analysts and others have pointed to mobile as a crucial part of Microsoft's strategy under Nadella.

Ahead of the announcement, Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder said Microsoft realizes that the revenue opportunity associated with Office on iPad -- which he said is pegged at an estimated $1.4 billion — outweighs any risks to Windows.

It's a welcome addition for Apple as well, he noted, since it adds to the utility of the iPad for business use, especially when coupled with an accessory keyboard.

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