At the tail end of March this year Microsoft made somewhat of a surprising announcement as they unleashed Office for IPad on the App Store. A touch friendly incarnation of the popular MS Office suite of tools Word, Excel and PowerPoint, developed specifically for the Apple IPad.
What was most surprising about this release was that it preceded a similar offering on Windows devices; but not for long! Microsoft has since announced that in the coming months we will see an even more feature rich ‘touch first’ version of these tools made available on Windows 8 devices such as the Microsoft flagship mobile devices the Surface 2 and the Surface Pro. Of course these Windows 8 devices do currently operate a version of Office, however the versions are very much more suited to the traditional mouse and keyboard centric desktop environment than to that of a mobile touch enabled device.
The general consensus on Office for IPad is that it is a very clean, stylish, powerful, usable app and although it was developed especially for the IPad it still retains that familiar MS Office look and feel. A cleverly designed version of the ribbon interface that we have grown accustomed to since Office 2007 is in place, offering the user considerable functionality within the application. The full desktop Office experience hasn’t been replicated however, with Macros in Excel being a notable exclusion – so don’t get rid of the desktop just yet!
The app works seamlessly with the MS OneDrive cloud storage platform bringing interoperability across desktop and mobile platforms. This move will surely benefit Microsoft but also possibly Apple even more! As Apple are now bound to see much greater IPad integration into the business world now that the big obstacle of interoperability with the popular Office products has been breached.
This cloud centred model will no doubt be replicated in the future Windows version as will the subscription based requirements of the tool. Office for IPad can currently be downloaded for free from the App Store for viewing and presenting purposes but in order to create or edit a file you must have an Office 365 subscription. The good news is however that this service comes at no extra cost to your existing subscription. Microsoft has been pushing the 365 subscription model for Office products for quite some time now (as opposed to buying the traditional once off standalone packages) and with this added incentive it now looks like the 365 model certainly delivers the better value for money right now. So bear this in mind if you’re looking to update your versions of Office in the near future.