Microsoft has finally released their much anticipated version of Office for the iPad.
The announcement was made by Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella, at his first press conference in San Francisco last week.
Before becoming CEO, Nadella was Microsoft’s chief cloud architect, driving the business into the next generation of computing. If anyone ever wondered where Microsoft’s future strategy is focused, Nadella’s address provided many clues.
“The world in the next five to ten years will not be defined by the form factors we know and love today, but by a variety of systems,” said Nadella.
He spoke about how much more ubiquitous computing will become, and that the interactions between humans and computers will be digitised faster than ever before. But the key will be to make sense of these interactions.
More than a billion people on the planet use Microsoft Office in business and in their personal lives. Mobility has changed computing forever, and this demand by users to extend the functionality of the world’s most popular productivity suite has driven Microsoft to launch Office for iPad.
Word, Excel and PowerPoint are the three key platforms that have been launched in Office for iPad. The product is free to download, and the free version will allow you to view documents. If you wish to create or edit documents you will need to purchase an Office 365 subscription. This is where Office becomes really powerful. Editing a document by keeping the content and format maintained across a Mac, tablet, PC, or even a phone, makes life incredibly flexible and brings true mobility to your workspace.
The familiarity using these productivity tools on a desktop or a mobile device like an iPad is consistent. The overhead ribbon menu interface for example, is almost identical to other versions of Office.
In Word, tables, SmartArt, footnotes, and equations are all there. Formatting and using your photos on your iPad are seamless. The collaboration in Word is powerful especially when editing and authoring documents with other users.
PowerPoint presentations pack a punch with transitions, animations, and speaker notes. When presenting you can even use a built-in laser pointer, pens, and highlighters.
This is a whole new approach to using Office. Without a keyboard or a mouse, touch and your voice become your only interaction. Surprisingly, this is not an issue. You can easily resize and rotate objects like pictures using your fingers. When you insert a picture for example, the text flows smoothly around the content. Apple’s built-in voice recognition makes dictation really useful. One of my favourite features is the ability to use AirPlay and project what you are doing on a TV screen wirelessly. It makes working on a presentation in comfort really appealing.
Office for iPad is by no means perfect, and Microsoft will add many more features in the months to come, but it is a very impressive app that offers fantastic functionality. It makes Office truly mobile, and the integration into Microsoft’s cloud storage platform OneDrive, makes this suite incredibly powerful.