If You Can't Wait For Microsoft Office To Come To The iPad, Try This Instead

installfree nexus running powerpoint on iPadInstallFree lets you run desktop apps on any device.

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

It feels like we’ve been waiting an eternity for Microsoft to bring its suite of Office apps to the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices. While Office is expected to launch on the iPad (finally!) in November, other devices will be left out of the fun. 

That’s why apps like CloudOn, which runs a virtual desktop version of Office on touchscreen devices, has become so popular.

Bouncing off the CloudOn idea is a new web service called InstallFree Nexus. Unlike CloudOn, Nexus isn’t an app that you download to your device. The whole thing is run within the browser, which means it works on practically anything: desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It doesn’t matter what operating system you’re using.

Click here for screenshots of InstallFree Nexus running on the iPad >

Like CloudOn, Nexus runs the full version of Microsoft Office virtually in your web browser. It also comes with some handy tools like an on-screen virtual mouse pad and a touchscreen keyboard loaded with more PC-like function keys. 

Nexus relies on third-party cloud services such as Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive to store all your stuff. Nothing is saved to your device’s internal storage. 

I’ve been using Nexus for a few days now. And the service works very well. My only gripes are that you must have an Internet connection to use it and you need to rely on Dropbox or another service to access your files. Hopefully an offline mode comes soon.

And as you can imagine, the desktop version of Office isn’t exactly touchscreen-friendly. Luckily, tools like  the on-screen mouse pad and enhanced keyboard are there to help, but it’s still not as optimal as a version of Office that’s designed entirely for a tablet or smartphone.

InstallFree Nexus is free to try for 60 days. After that it costs $19.99 per month or $199.99 per year. (You’re paying for the rights to use Office.) There’s also an option for students and academics that costs $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year.

Get started on installfree.com. Sign up or log in from the buttons on the bottom right of the page.

We already have an account, so we'll just log in.

If it's your first time using InstallFree Nexus, you'll be prompted to link one of your cloud storage services. We'll use Google Drive.

Log in with your Google credentials.

We're in! Let's tap the Google Drive account to access our files.

Here's our list of files stored in Google Drive. Tap one for a preview.

As Word launches, you get this screen with some handy touchscreen shortcuts.

Boom! Microsoft Word is running on our iPad within the browser. No app installation needed.

Here's what the special keyboard looks like. It's full of PC-like function keys so you can get the most out of the Office apps.

There's also this virtual mouse pad for navigation.

You save documents to one of your third-party cloud services. Select the service you want to use.

We're still using Google Drive in this demo.

See? Our test document shows up in the original dashboard. Now let's take a look at the other Microsoft Office apps.

The apps load very quickly.

See? It's the PowerPoint you're used to using!

And here's Excel. InstallFree says it'll update to the new version of Office when it launches next year.

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