One of the most lucrative software franchises in history, Microsoft Office, is finally coming to the most influential computing device of the last few years, the iPad.

Microsoft’s decision to bring Office to the Apple device comes after years of wavering inside the company about the product, as it mulled over the implications for its own efforts to make a tablet computer. To many people, the move is a refreshing sign of a new Microsoft, one slowly unshackling itself from an era when all of its major decisions were made in deference to Windows, Microsoft’s operating system.

But to skeptics, Office for the iPad is arriving dangerously late.

That’s because the delay has given people who use iPads, especially business professionals, years to get used to using the tablet without Office, a suite of programs that includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Start-ups like Evernote, Quip, Smartsheet and Haiku Deck, along with Apple’s own iWork suite of applications, have filled the void left by Microsoft with productivity applications that work on tablets and other devices.

Microsoft’s shares are trading near their highest point in 14 years, partly in anticipation of Office for the iPad. Microsoft’s new chief executive, Satya Nadella, is expected to announce the product at an event in San Francisco on Thursday.

It once bothered David A. Levine, the chief investment officer of Artivest, a financial services start-up in New York, when he would go to conferences with his iPad, and he could not use Microsoft Word on the device. Instead, he would jot down ideas in the bare-bones note-taking app that comes with the iPad and copy all of the text over to Word on his computer, a clumsy process.

Since last year, his company has done all of its word processing in Quip, an app that works on iPads, smartphones and computers through a Web browser. The software lets employees work together on a document and see changes others are making in real time, on whatever devices they happen to be using.

“I don’t miss Word at all,” Mr. Levine said.

The new Office product will test whether one of the great successes of the PC era can thrive in the age of mobile devices. Over the last decade, Office has generated approximately $180 billion in revenue for Microsoft, according to estimates by Nomura Securities. Its growth over that period tracked the ascent of the PC business, in which Microsoft remains an influential player through Windows, the dominant operating system for PCs. For years, whenever someone bought a new PC for their home or business, they usually bought Office to go with it.

Read more at The New York Times