Microsoft Office … the New King of iPad Productivity Apps?

By John Arkontaky
On Apr 04, 2014
Friday, April 4, 2014

Lookout iWork. Lookout Google Docs. On March 27, Microsoft announced that its Office for iPad, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps, are all available in the Apple App Store. 

Office on other smart devices, such as the iPhone, caught flak for less-than-ideal touch input among other things. Microsoft revamped its touch interface for iPad, and the general impressions are—as awkward as it sounds—that the app works well on an Apple’s tablet. This is an extremely smart move on Microsoft’s part, as iOS adoption in the enterprise is virtually a foregone conclusion at this point. 

Microsoft is playing ball by releasing its productivity software on iPad, but the mega technology company is still holding a couple aces up its sleeve. For example, Office for iPad only synchronizes with OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud file, sync, and share platform. That’s right, no Dropbox, Box, Google Drive support yet (though we don’t expect this will last long). Another key distinction is that the apps themselves are free, but Office is limited to read-only functionality for Word and Excel (you can present slides in PowerPoint) unless users have an Office 365 subscription. With 365, users can create and edit content readily, and you can install Office on five iPads with a single subscription. 

It’s a solid step in the right direction, but Office for iPad is going to need some features added down the line to become a truly singular productivity solution. A lack of printing capabilities, for instance, is a black eye for many. But, reports indicate that printing from iPad will be available in the future.

In 2014, 14% of employees will use a tablet as a primary device. Only 3% of employees made that claim in 2012. From manufacturing floors to boardrooms, tablets are gaining favor in business operations. With Windows Phone lagging behind iOS and Android in enterprise adoption, this could be a smart case of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” Still, reserving full functionality for Office 365 subscribers and exclusive OneDrive integration, Office for iPad could create a seismic shift in preferred cloud and productivity platforms for the mobile workforce.

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