Microsoft Just Made Its Boldest Play In Years, Releasing Office For The IPad

Microsoft announced it will bring its Office suite to the iPad starting today.

Microsoft Office for iPad will be live in the App Store starting today at 2 p.m. eastern. The iPad version of Office will include Word, PowerPoint and Excel.

Microsoft is going with a “freemium” model. It costs nothing to download the apps. Consumers will be able to read documents on Office for iPad for free. But, if they want to edit and create documents, they will need an Office 365 subscription.

An Office 365 subscription comes at a number of annual prices. It costs an enterprise anywhere from $US60 to $US264 a year per user depending on the size of the company and how much stuff they get from Office.

This is the most important product for Microsoft in years. Office is the business that really powers Microsoft.

Microsoft had avoided the iPad because it wanted to use Office as a competitive advantage for Windows tablets like the Surface. The Surface has not succeeded despite an exclusive on Office. The iPad, meanwhile, has been a juggernaut even without Office.

Microsoft could have watched the iPad run away with the market and risk having Office become irrelevant. Instead it smartly decided to put Office on the iPad.

This is important because it reflects a change in the mindset at Microsoft. For years, it was all about protecting Windows. With new CEO Satya Nadella leading the way, Microsoft is willing to work across platforms.

Microsoft says Office for the iPad is not a ported version of the Windows apps, it’s all new for the iPad.

Judging by Microsoft’s demo, the Office apps seem to work smoothly on the iPad. It’s clear Microsoft put a lot of effort into creating a clean and intuitive experience for iPad users. We won’t know for sure until we get a chance to try it, but seems like Office for iPad will be a competitive offering in the productivity suite space.

Here’s what Word looks like:

Office word

And here’s Excel: