Microsoft Brings Office to Apple’s iPad

Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Office suite of software has finally arrived on Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad. Microsoft unveiled its touch friendly versions of Excel, PowerPoint, and Word for the iPad at a media event in San Francisco on Thursday. Office for iPad works on iPads running iOS 7.0 or later and is available in twenty-nine languages, noted Microsoft. Although Office for iPad is available as a free download from Apple’s App Store, the free version only allows users to read Word documents, view Excel data, and open PowerPoint presentations. In order to edit or create new documents, users must subscribe to Microsoft’s Office 365 service.

Office 365 subscription prices vary depending on the type and number of users. A Home Premium subscription costs $99.99 per year, while a Small Business subscription costs $60.00 per year. The Home Premium subscription allows Office to be used on up to five PCs or Macs, plus five iPads or Windows tablets. The Small Business subscription allows up to twenty-five enterprise users, but it does not include the desktop version of Office. However, enterprise users can get access to the desktop version of Office with a $150.00 per year Small Business Premium subscription.

According to Microsoft’s press release, Office for iPad was “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.” Several early reviews of the software suite appear to confirm Microsoft’s claim. Office Mobile, Microsoft’s version of Office for smartphones, has been available for iPhone and Android-based smartphone users since last year. However, a reviewer at ReCode noted that Microsoft didn’t just stretch Office Mobile to fit on a larger screen — rather, the software appears to have been truly created for Apple’s iPad.

A reviewer at Engadget also praised Microsoft for optimizing the software for Apple’s iPad. “Microsoft was careful to take advantage of the iPad’s extra screen real estate, whereas the iPhone version wouldn’t even let you add rows in the middle of a spreadsheet, the iPad edition includes advanced features like Sparklines and author blocking, which only power users might appreciate,” noted Engadget.

Several reviewers also noted that Microsoft did a good job of maintaining the formatting of the content in the software across multiple platforms. Documents that are saved to Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage can be opened on a desktop computer without any changes in the formatting. It should be noted that Office for iPad is only compatible with the OneDrive cloud storage service. Although this may not be a major problem for most users, it may be a minor annoyance for users that prefer to store all their documents in a rival cloud storage service like Dropbox. Despite the presence of some inevitable bugs in the early software versions and the lack of cloud storage alternatives, the initial reception for Microsoft’s long-awaited Office for iPad software suite appears to be mostly positive.

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