Microsoft Office 2013 (formerly Office 15) will offer cloud integration with SkyDrive, and social media integration with Yammer, SharePoint and Skype. CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled an Office 2013 Customer Preview today, positioning it as a "cloud service" best used with Windows 8 on PCs and tablets, including Microsoft's own Surface tablets. The three remaining questions: Where's Office 2013 for Apple iPad support, when will the suite actually ship, and where's the line between Office 2013 and Office 365? Hmmm...

Let's explore the bigger picture first. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has spent the past two weeks claiming its next round of product upgrades (Windows 8, Office 2013, Windows Server 2012 with Hyper-V and more) will generate massive profit opportunities for channel partners. And today, Ballmer continued that theme by discussing Office 2013 in San Francisco.

Office 2013, like Windows 8, will offer a multi-touch user interface and more traditional keyboard and mouse support. On the cloud front, Office 2013 saves documents to SkyDrive by default -- so user content is "always available across your tablet, PC and phone."

Office 2013 for Apple iPad?

Does that mean Office 2013 will support iPads? The VAR Guy sure thinks so -- though Microsoft's press release doesn't mention iPad.

Still, it sounds like Microsoft's goal is to manage customer's documents up in the cloud, so that it's easier for users to jump from iPads to Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets -- and even massive wall touch-screens like Perceptive Pixel, which Microsoft just acquired. But that's just speculation from The VAR Guy.

Office 2013 and Office 365

Also, Microsoft announced new Office 365 cloud offerings that are closely related to Office 2013. (Stay tuned for more on that later.) In the meantime think of this: Office 365 is beginning to shift from the business market into the consumer market, as Microsoft starts to promote both Office 2013 and Office 365 to home users.

Yup, it's gonna happen. Stay tuned.

Office 2013 Launch Date, Pricing

Microsoft certainly has a full plate this fall, striving to get Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows Surface tablets, and now Office 2013 out the door. For channel partners, one of the safest bets appears to be the Windows Server 2012 launch, especially since it will feature major Hyper-V upgrades.

Near-term demand for Office 2013 is far more difficult to predict, though Microsoft could supply some predictions during an earnings call later this week.

Meanwhile, the software giant did not disclose pricing or availability for the new Office suite. But full details about Office 2013 are expected sometime this fall, Microsoft said.

A potential safe bet: Microsoft will announce Office 2013 has either shipped or been released to manufacturing the day that Windows 8 debuts.  The VAR Guy is willing to take that bet.