An Office for iPad

With the release of Office for iPad finally here, things are getting interesting in post-Ballmer Microsoft. The world’s most popular productivity suite is now available on the world’s most popular tablet.

Do we need an Office for iPad?

Yes. Definitely. I still refuse to believe that most (serious) people buy tablets as novelty items – or even toys. Given the price of an iPad, I can’t conclude that people buy one simply to email and browse. I’ll even go further and say anyone who buys an iPad for browsing and email probably didn’t buy it themselves, or probably didn’t apply the critical thinking necessary before making the purchase. After all, an iPad isn’t particularly first-choice for reading ebooks, its not particularly excellent at pen input (by design), and despite what people may whisper or boldly proclaim – its not particularly great at replacing a real-deal PC or or Mac.

But as I was saying, yes, we definitely need Office apps on the iPad. The most obvious of reasons is simply because of file compatibility. Maintaining file and format integrity irrespective of the platform is an absolute advantage over any alternative. Its common knowledge that Microsoft has a firm grip on the office-suite industry. I believe this is because the quality is great and the return on investment is endless, especially for those of us who use every single application in the Microsoft Office suite, regularly. Some will disagree, and I will continue disagreeing with those who disagree (in another post maybe), but the reality is that the alternatives to key Office applications are nowhere near equal in a feature-for-feature comparison – and yes this includes Keynote. That’s why they’re cheaper, that’s why I have an Office 365 subscription, and that’s why Microsoft Office apps will quickly climb to the top of the App Store’s charts.

PS: I’ve made similar arguments with Adobe Reader and its alternatives on the desktop. There are dozens of alternatives to Adobe Reader, and they’ll work just fine or even better for 95% of the market – but when it comes to printing multiple pages per sheet, ALL of them have fail at this point. Try it, you’ll see.

But that Office 365 subscription!?

For those without an Office 365 subscription, this is the bad news. Without one, you won’t be able to edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

While its easy to merit and demerit a subscription model, I personally feel and have discovered that the majority of people I have come into contact with are wilfully and un-wilfully using counterfeited Microsoft Office. Its become a culture of sorts too, and thus any mention of “pay” is certain to be greeted with negativity from those circles.

For me, the benefits of an Office 365 subscription are ideal: multiple installs of 7 apps I use regularly is perfect (and yes, that includes Access and Publisher). Including the ability to use the full available office suite on mobile platforms only adds value to the package. Also, the bonus OneDrive Storage and free Skype minutes are nice, and I would have signed up even if they weren’t part of the deal.

Office 365 pricing?

  • $6.99 per month for the Personal subscription (up to 2 installations on your personal Mac/PC and another 2 for mobile devices) – COMING SOON
  • $9.99 for the Home Premium subscription (up to 5 installations for your household and another 5 for mobile devices eg. iPad) – AVAILABLE NOW

Furthermore, if your company is already making use of Office 365 for Business, you may already have a subscription, paid for by your boss’ bosses.

Should I get it?

This is a solid Yes. Unless you exclusively use Apple everything, you’re better off using Office for iPad apps to view and edit all those Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files the world loves and loves to hate. Another downside is the fixed integration with OneDrive – which is not necessarily every Office user’s cloud storage of choice. For everything else, visit the App Store. Remember: the iPad has been doing fine without Microsoft Office for years now, but irrespective, Apple’s iPad is an even better tablet now that Office is in the App Store.