When Microsoft announced that its Office apps are now available for the iPad on Thursday, the company emphasised that this isn’t just a port of the Windows or iPhone version.
Microsoft promises that its Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps have all been optimised for the iPad, and so far early reviews agree.
Engadget’s Dana Wollman praised the new iPad Office apps’ design in her review:
Microsoft took its time developing this software (years, perhaps ), and the result is a suite that makes excellent use of the iPad’s extra screen real estate. The design here is beautiful, straightforward. What’s more, it masks a delightful selection of customisation options, many of which you wouldn’t know were there at first glance.
There is a caveat however. She notes that since you’ll need to pay $US99 per year to use the full version of the apps, it’s a better choice for those who already have Office 365 subscriptions. Without a subscription, you can only view documents and files but can’t create or edit them. Wollman writes:
It’s also a no-brainer for people who already have a 365 subscription; you’re already paying to run Office on five computers, so the iPad app is really just a nice freebie. But let’s be clear: Office for iPad is not for iPad users looking for a productivity suite; it’s for Office customers who happen to own an iPad. Until Microsoft’s apps are free for all, Apple will continue to have the home-court advantage on iOS devices, if only because its apps don’t cost anything.
Re/code’s Bonnie Cha, who used Office apps on her iPad to write the review, file expense reports create a PowerPoint presentation, said the Office experience translates nicely:
Built from the ground up, the suite offers robust functionality, and does a nice job of bringing the familiarity of the desktop suite into a touch-friendly iPad experience…This isn’t a case of taking the iPhone app and stretching it to fit a larger screen, or just dumping the desktop apps onto the iPad.
Like Wollman, Cha also noted the price as a con, along with some other small complaints:
I also ran into a couple of minor problems with formatting, and the Word app crashed on me twice. But the biggest downside is pricing.
Mashable’s Lance Ulanoff said the apps feel like a suite even though they’re available as three separate apps. Overall the Office apps offered a feature-rich experience for Ulanoff, but the lack of printing support could be a drawback for some consumers. He writes:
I think Microsoft built these three apps right for tablets. They work smoothly, offer virtually every feature I need and offer a sensible level of interaction without over-reaching…Printing will have to come quickly and a set of Android tablet versions cannot come quickly enough (they are in the pipeline), but for now, this is the best productivity choice for current Office and Office 365 users and is real competition for Apple’s very able set of iWork productivity apps.
The introduction of Office apps to the iPad marks an important strategy change for Microsoft. Under new CEO Satya Nadella’s leadership, the company is willing to work across platforms. Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint are available for download in the App Store starting today, and here’s where to find them.