Software has previously been kept off Apple's tablets / REUTERS/Mike Blake

Software has previously been kept off Apple's tablets to improve the draw of Microsoft's Surface hardware - it seems the company can wait no longer

Could Office finally be coming to the iPad? This is the rumour currently being trafficked ahead of the first major Microsoft event chaired by new CEO Satya Nadella.

Certain media outlets have received an invitation to “a special cloud- and mobile-focused event”  on 27 March with sources suggesting that the company will be launching a version of its productivity suite for Apple’s tablets.

Investors have been urging Microsoft to port its popular software onto iOS devices for years, but it seems the company was loathe to undermine its own operating system by making Office available elsewhere.

It’s thought that Microsoft will be duplicating the format of its Office for iPhone software (launched last June), meaning that users can view Office documents on their iPad for free (including Word, PowerPoint and Excel files) but will need to take out a subscription to Office 365 to do any actual editing.

Office 365 is the cloud-based version of the software that charges users a monthly or yearly fee instead of buying a single perpetual licence,  bundling in all sorts of Microsoft cloud services including 60 minutes of Skype calling and 20GB of cloud storage.

Up until now Office 365 has only really been aimed at small businesses buying multiple licences, but if Office is coming to the iPad then we can probably expect more focus on individuals. Apple made it clear when they made their own productivity suite iWork free back in October 2013 that they’re determined to steal more casual customers away from Microsoft.

The event on 27 March will be followed by Microsoft’ s developer conference, Build, on 2 April. At the latter it’s expected that the company will unveil the latest update to its mobile operating system, Windows Phone 8.1, as well as offer some sort of glimpse into what Windows 9 will look like.