Microsoft announces Office for iPad, extending productivity to all iOS devices

Mark Hachman
28 March, 2014
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Microsoft officially announced Microsoft Office for iPad on Thursday, pushing Microsoft’s office suite onto the most popular tablet in the market.

A touch-based version of Office is also in the works for Windows, Julia White, a senior Office executive for Microsoft, confirmed.

Microsoft Word for iPad, Excel for iPad and PowerPoint for iPad will all be free to download from the iTunes App Store, executives said. However, users will be only able to view existing documents. Microsoft will ask users to sign up for an Office 365 subscription – $12 per month for Office 365 Home Premium and $9 per month for the upcoming Personal plan – to actually create or edit documents.

Office for iPad will integrate with a user’s OneDrive account, enabling a worker to create a PowerPoint presentation at the office, then edit and revise it on her train trip home. A document will remain consistently formatted, even if an Office implementation (such as Office Mobile) doesn’t support a particular feature.

Why is this announcement so critical for Microsoft? Volume. Microsoft has put Office onto tablets before. The company shipped a special version of its core Office apps for its own Microsoft Surface tablet and its successor, the Surface 2. But estimates by IHS put Microsoft’s fourth-quarter Surface sales at just over a million units; Apple sold 26 million iPads during the fourth quarter alone.

Microsoft’s core Office apps are actually the last to migrate to the platform, as Apple users have been able to download everything from Lync, Skype and Yammer to the iPad, while OneNote for the iPad has been available since 2011.

Mobile first, cloud first

Microsoft’s new chief executive, Satya Nadella, has made it clear that connecting users to Microsoft’s cloud services, regardless of platform, has been the company’s priority. His ‘mobile first, cloud first’ mantra seems reflected in the Office push onto the iPad.

“The question for us is how we can thrive in this world: what innovation can we bring,” Nadella said in February. “And if you look at the co-evolution of hardware and software [that] is going to define what’s going to happen. We have a particular definition of mobile, which is perhaps skewed to the mobile phone. But you take the industrial internet or the internet of everything, everything’s going to be connected to the cloud, and data. So that’s the world that we are building for.”

Apple has its own office suite, called iWork, which Apple began bundling for free onto new iOS and Mac devices late last year. Will Microsoft be able to muscle in on Apple’s turf, or will iPad users prefer their tried-and-true apps? The next few months will answer that question.

by Mark Hachman, PC World


2 people were compelled to have their say. We encourage you to do the same..

  1. udi says:

    I doubt that at this late stage in the game, an app that can only read office docs, is going to cut it.

    I no longer work in an office or have to use Office documents on a daily basis. I do however want to interact with the rest of the world and that sometimes means producing or editing MS Office documents. I have an older copy of office on my mac and while out and about, I use Cloud On and a variety of other apps. These apps are limited in their utility but they get the job done.

    Asking people like me to pay over a hundred dollars a year for occasional use is only likely to encourage us to jump the MS ship. I would have thought it was in Microsoft’s interest to keep as many people using the Docx, Xlsx .. file types as possible.

    I’m sure it will still pay some businesses to maintain their Office subscription on mobile devices but as more people get used to alternative formats, Microsoft’s hold on the office document will weaken.

  2. cheshbr says:

    Microsoft just don’t get it. $12 a month is a significant cost to access Office docs on an iPad. For computer users having access to Office on the desktop, why not save the spreadsheet, ppt or doc file into Dropbox and open, edit and save them in Dropbox using Apple’s free iWork suite?
    In my own case I have a legit copy of Office 2013 installed on a PC which required an access key to initially setup and configure. Why not let corporate users in a similar situation have free use of the iPad version of Office so long as the initial product key used on “big office” is used on the iPad versions?

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