Friday, July 25, 2014

Microsoft Office now on the iPad (4/14)

The long awaited announcement last week that Microsoft Office can now run on the iPad is a very big deal. Many people would not use an iPad in the past because Word, Excel and Powerpoint were not available - now they are. I've had the weekend to play with all three apps and I am definitely impressed. Considering this is Microsoft's first attempt at a tablet based version of Office they did an outstanding job.

The apps are intuitive, easy to use and well-designed to work on a small screen. I spent most of the time with Powerpoint and found it comparable to Apple's Keynote in ease of use. Based strictly on features, I'd find it difficult to recommend one suite over the other. Of course most comparisons aren't or shouldn't be based strictly on features. Price is always a factor and this is the first big concern with the new Microsoft products. NOTE - If you're just trying to understand this subject, Apple has long had three desktop competitors to MS Office - Keynote (presentations), Pages (word processing) and Numbers (spreadsheets). They have companion iPad apps also.
So what's the price issue?
Many people are disturbed to learn that the "free" Microsoft iPad Office suite requires a $100 per year subscription to Office 365. The pricing structure is complex - students get a much lower rate, for example. The other surprise is that the mobile version is not identical to the desktop version. Microsoft had no choice but to do a from the ground up rewrite because, as I've said frequently in the past, Office software was designed for a large screen and doesn't work well on any ten inch device. If you don't believe this, just go to and run Windows/Office on your iPad or other tablet using a remote server/PC. This is straight forward and will work great if you have fingers the size of toothpicks. The following links will help you understand the various price plans for the new iPad Office - and A lower priced personal version is coming in the spring.
Why on the iPad and not Android?
Because Microsoft put Office on the iPad before Android tablets, they must feel Google is the real enemy. Numerous moves we've seen in the mobile field recently are all about choosing sides in what is likely to be a bloody battle for mobile dominance for at least the next five years.

If you're a dedicated Windows user and you choose to use the latest and greatest Office 365 suite, the iPad MS Office apps might just be what you're looking for since you've already paid for the contract. If you're slightly less committed to Windows, you might prefer Apple's iWork version since either approach requires changing software but the Apple apps don't require a contract. Both the Microsoft Office and Apple iWork apps work with standard office files - doc, ppt, xls. Of the three Office apps, I've always felt spreadsheets were the hardest to convert to the small screen. Excel is a beautiful and powerful program and the PC/Mac versions will be king of the hill for years to come. 

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