March 28th 2014
By Mike Flaminio
Starting Thursday, Office 365 subscribers can simply add an iPad as one of their chosen devices included in their subscription benefits, and can create and edit documents with Word for iPad, PowerPoint for iPad and Excel for iPad. These apps are available as free downloads from the App Store, enabling people to read and present documents, spreadsheets and presentations. Office for iPad brings full file fidelity across Office on PC, Mac, tablet and phone, and along with cloud storage from OneDrive or OneDrive for Business your files are up to date, wherever you need them on whatever device you want to use. Office for iPad apps have a familiar look and feel that are unmistakably Office but are built from the ground up for iPad, factoring in the unique nature of touch and functionality native to iPad along with what people most commonly want to do on a tablet. More detail on today's announcements can be found in the Office blog.
I think this is a big deal. Popular curmudgeonry is this is too late for Microsoft, but it's a big deal for large workplaces. Personally I'm very content to work in rich text editors like Evernote and I can always open/edit Word documents using Pages or Docs 2 Go. I've long preferred Keynote to PowerPoint, although that gap has narrowed over the years. So, I'm probably not the target user, but too often people assume everyone is like them. Collaboration in the workplace needs standardization across all platforms and Office remains king. This release brings the iPad to peer status in that workflow, which is great for Apple, Microsoft and users.
I'm surprised they're opening up the app to non 365 users. That's a smart and aggressive move, which is refreshing for Microsoft. By being able to at least read and present on all devices will help keep Office entrenched and certainly will encourage 365 subscriptions.