At long last, Microsoft Corp. has rolled out Office for iPad. But it's not just Office on another device. Although the iPad app offers the look and feel of the traditional Office app, it was built with "touch-first" in mind.
The mobile productivity suite includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Office for iPad is now part of a family of iOS apps that includes OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, Onenote, Lync, and an app for Exchange-based e-mail. The app is also available for Android devices.
John Case, Microsoft Office corporate vice president of marketing, said this isn’t just Office on another device. The company, rather, thought about what people want to do when they’re on their tablet, considered iPad functionality, and approached building the app with a touch-first mindset.
“We reimagined Office on the iPad, while retaining what people love about Office,” Chase said in a blog post announcing the app. “The apps have the robust capabilities and familiar look and feel that is unmistakably Office, while offering a fantastic touch experience built from the ground up for iPad.”
Free Vs. Paid Options
A free version of the app lets you read Word documents, view your Excel data and present with PowerPoint. Chase promised those docs would look just as good in the iPad as they do on a Mac or PC. Of course, Microsoft would prefer that you buy an Office 365 subscription and, in fact, you can’t edit or create new documents on the iPad without it.
“When you edit a document, you can be sure that content and formatting will be maintained across Office on PC, Mac, tablet and phone. And, you always have access to your up-to-date documents in OneDrive and OneDrive for Business,” Chase said, noting that the Office 365 subscription lets you install the Office for iPad app on up to five tablets, but also five copies across Office for your PCs and Macs.
There are various levels of Office 365. Most recently, Microsoft introduced Office 365 Personal, which will debut this spring. Microsoft’s Chris Schneider called it a “great” new option for people interested in using Office 365. It’s designed for individual use. One PC or Mac and one tablet can connect to the service for $69.99 a year or $6.99 a month.
Leaks Were All Wrong
We turned to Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, to get his take on the much-anticipated Office for iPad. He told us the app is more than he expected. He saw a number of leaks over the years that suggested what Office for iPad could look like, which may have underwhelmed consumers.
But, Miller noted, people are excited about the app because it offers a good set of design decisions to deliver an app that can actually help people get things done on the iPad. Although it lacks some of the features power users may want, most of the common features are available and Miller is betting most people will be satisfied with what they can accomplish on the go with Office for iPad.
“If there is any area of disappointment, it’s from people who wanted Office for iPad to be a lump sum purchase. You do have to connect it to an appropriate Office 365 subscription,” Miller said. “That’s not a surprise and it’s a model that makes sense for Microsoft. So they are empowering the people that see a benefit from Office and they are not providing the full program to people who would see Office as a throw away.”