Office for iPad Marks Fundamental Shift for Microsoft

Brandon Dimmel's picture

Microsoft has announced that its Office software suite is finally coming to Apple's iPad tablet. Microsoft's newest Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella, unveiled the iPad version of Office at a news conference last Thursday.

Microsoft Apprehensive About Releasing Office for iPad

It's a bit of a mystery as to why Microsoft waited so long to release Office for a tablet that first launched roughly four years ago.

Some experts believe that Office for iPad has been ready for release for a number of years. It's speculated that Microsoft wanted to keep Office on its own tablet device (the Surface), and thus give it a 'leg up' on the market. (Source:

Other reports suggest that Microsoft was apprehensive to release Office for iPad because it would hurt sales of Windows-based PCs. That's because roughly four years ago, the only device capable running MS Office was a Windows-based PC. But now, that's simply not the case. (Source:

"Putting out Office for iPad is a clear sign that Microsoft is finally liberating itself from long-held dogma and embracing new ideas. That change in strategy means Microsoft customers will finally be able to choose freely among hardware platforms ... Until now, Microsoft has guarded Windows like a treasure hoard - a conservatism that put Microsoft's other businesses at a disadvantage," writes Ryan Tate of (Source:

Fast forward four years and the tablet market has literally exploded, overtaking sales of PCs with a whopping 38% growth expected for 2014. (Source: Microsoft is now struggling to sell both PCs and its own tablet, the Surface. Thus, Microsoft determined it could generate more revenue by simply releasing its Office software for the iPad. (Source:

The windfall could be huge: in fact, early estimates suggest that Office revenue could increase by as much as $3 billion. Of course, Apple will also take its cut: reports indicate that Apple's share of the enormous Office profits could be as high as 30 per cent.

Download Office for iPad: Free, but Limited

Office for iPad was built with a touchscreen in mind, though some features have been stripped altogether. Those who require a full-featured version of MS Office will need to purchase a Windows-based tablet or run it on a PC (Source: This was done on purpose to promote Surface tablets as well as bolster Windows PC sales.

Office for iPad features large images and icons optimized for dragging, rotating, and expanding. According to ZDNet expert James Kendrick, "all three Office apps have the right mix of features and usability that is appropriate for tablets." (Source:

For iPad users interested in giving Office a try, a free, downloadable version is now available through Apple's app store. This will allow users to get a sense for how the included apps work. Three Office applications are currently available for download, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

In order to create and save new documents, users will need to purchase a subscription to Microsoft's cloud-based Office 365 service. The Home Premium subscription targeted at home users runs about $99 per year up front, or $9.99 a month and includes 60 minutes of free calls on Skype, plus 20GB of online storage. Business users will pay closer to $160 each year.

What's Your Opinion?

What do you think of Office for iPad? Do you believe it is a good idea, or is Microsoft's offering simply too little, too late? Do you think that Office for iPad marks a fundamental shift in focus for Microsoft, and do you believe that sales of PCs will suffer as a result? Lastly, are you a tablet owner and have you tried using an office suite on a tablet? If so, what was your experience and how does it compare to using a desktop suite?

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darylhutchins's picture

Seriously? Word-processing on a pad! How do I invest my life savings in the physio-therapy industry?

It's great that the Office Reader appears to be free - it will be good to run PowerPoint presentations on my iPad. The others may come in handy occasionally as well ... not enough to pay for them.

Pricing for full access is obscene ... is it already covered if you have a PC subscription? Whatever, I will never subscribe and have already started installing Open Office on my computers. When MS inevitably drops support for non-subscription versions of Office, it gets dropped like the proverbial hot-potato.

bern's picture

I agree with Daryl. A free reader might well be useful but why full your tab with with over priced bloatware. If it only works with a wireless signal of some sort, then it is worse then useless for travellers anyway.
I'm sure Infopkts can point us at half a dozen good alternatives that are office compatible and either free or a fraction of the price. It proves 'The real thing.' to quote the age old adage, is not always the best option.

IdeasVacuum's picture

Regardless of price and the need of a wireless signal, a tablet device is simply not suitable for using a full-blown office suit, especially for word-processing.

lbiasci's picture

I have never used a tablet and am considering purchasing one to replace my old 2006 dell inspiron 9300, windows xp laptop. I would need to use Word & Excel, so why is "a tablet device..simply not suitable...for word processing"...and why is that so?

I would like to get a tablet soon, but don't want to also have to purchase another laptop as well to replace my aging dell laptop.

Dennis Faas's picture

A tablet wouldn't be suitable to replace a laptop / desktop in the scenario you describe because most people prefer to use a keyboard and mouse for large amounts of input. Typing for a lengthy period of time on a tiny, cramped screen is not ergonomic. If you plan to make minor adjustments to documents or you just want to preview some data, then a tablet would be suitable.

Optionally you might be able to hook up an external keyboard, mouse and monitor to a tablet - but the underlying software will likely be designed for 'touch', so the menus you expect to be there for your mouse will be missing.