There are many milestones that have happened this year. We’ve discovered primordial gravitational waves, dating back to the big bang; and Microsoft released Office for iPad. For the 91% of FTSE 500 companies that are testing or deploying iPads, clearly the latter will be hugely important for employee productivity on the move.
The Office suite for iPad is made up of Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint – all individual downloads. Any user with an iPad can read or present for free, marking a way for Microsoft to get their software into the hands of millions of iPad enterprise users.
Those paying a subscription fee (£7.99 per month or £79.99 per year) will be able to use Office in its full functionality across all of their devices. Much of the adoption will be for those on an enterprise subscription of Office 365. Many organisations are tied to Microsoft software so this is a big step forward for them in terms of productivity while on the move.
So what of the software itself? By all accounts, it’s a clean, rather flat affair of beautifully neat lines that is surely best suited for an iPad matched with an external keyboard. It comes complete with the ability to edit collaboratively and many of the features users might expect from Office.
As pieces of mobile software, there are many features missing from the software which may, or may not, find their way to mobile. For the power users, a pure Windows experience will still result in maximum functionality. For productivity on the move, Office for iPad appears to deliver on the core essentials.
Does this matter though? Those with a new iPad or iPhone since October get Apple’s suite of Keynote, Pages and Numbers absolutely free, with no subscription. Those with devices purchased before October can get Apple’s suite of apps for less than the price of a three month subscription on Office 365. The Apple App Store also includes lots of apps that make it easy to edit both Microsoft and Apple documents on the move, not forgetting Google Drive as a popular contender.
Apple’s Keynote for iPad is undoubtedly one of the most usable pieces of software for mobile available and features the ability to turn itself, or a paired iPhone into a remote. Users can share their Apple created documents with colleagues using iCloud, where they can be edited and collaborated on for free.
There clearly is a latent demand for Office on iPad, though it’s four years since the iPad came out and four years of users getting used to Google Docs or Apple’s own software. However, for organisations already subscribing to Office 365, this will be a welcome introduction.
There is a market for people who like to ‘Excel in Bed’, but for the rest of us? £79.99 a year on Office versus £59.88 for Netflix, we’ll leave that for Walter White to decide!