During his first webcast on Thursday evening, Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella announced that Office for iPad is now available on the Apple iTunes store, for free.
It consists of three separate apps – Word, Excel and PowerPoint – and each can be downloaded and used by anyone with an iPad or iPhone to open and display documents created in Office. But only those with an Office 365 subscription can edit, create and save new documents, spreadsheets and slideshows.
Naturally, all apps are tightly integrated with OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud-storage service that essentially lets you access your stored files from anywhere with an internet connection.
During the webcast it was emphasised that this is no simple update to Office Mobile, which has been available for iPhones and Android phones since last year, this is Microsoft’s original attempt to let Apple fans view and edit Office documents on the iPad. Each version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad has been designed from the ground up specifically for Apple’s iOS operating system, so they’re brand-spanking-new, and not just straight ports of the Windows versions.
They are, however, virtually identical to the Windows apps in terms of their interfaces and functionality, with the exception of tailor-made enhancements designed to make the suite work with the iPad’s touch interfaces. The point of that, Microsoft said, was to provide people with the same Office experience no matter the device they were using.
Julie White, Office General Manager at Microsoft said during Thursday’s webcast that this new Office for iPad addresses the problem of Office documents losing their formatting when being viewed by Office Mobile, since documents viewed on Office for iPad will look identical to how they did when originally created on other platforms. She also demonstrated how the formatting of documents adapted dynamically to elements being dragged and dropped on the iPad, just like they do on Windows.
She said that Word, PowerPoint and Excel would be available in the iTunes store from 11am San Francisco time, which was 8pm South African time. I’ve searched for the apps in the South African iTunes store, and all three are available for us locals.