After much speculating, denying, and waiting, Microsoft has finally released their suite of Offices apps dedicated to the iPad. With increased competition and flocks of users going to apps like Quickoffice (which was recently acquired by Google) and Kingsoft Office, it was getting close to do-or-die time for Microsoft.
Rather than bundle everything under one umbrella like their Office Mobile apps, Microsoft has instead opted to release the suite as seperate apps for Excel, OneNote, PowerPoint, and Word. You'll need to have, or sign up for, a free Microsoft account in order to use the apps, as well OneDrive in order to pull and push documents to and from the cloud.
Because these apps are designed specifically for the iPad, they certainly have the tablet feel versus the all-in-one apps designed for smartphones.
A big, beautiful display means increased functionality, but with one large caveat—to do anything other than view documents, such as create and edit, you will need a Microsoft 365 subscription.
"With an Office 365 subscription, you can edit and create new documents with the iPad. When you edit a document, you can be sure that content and formatting will be maintained across Office on PC, Mac, tablet and phone." Hmm...thanks Microsoft! If you're unsure whether you would benefit from buying a subscription, sign up for a free 30 day trial of Office 365.
Aside from the new iPad app, the original iOS Office Mobile was updated to allow for creating and editing documents without requiring a Microsoft 365 account. While the mobile app doesn't equate aesthetically to its iPad equivalents, the added functionality may make the app worthwhile to keep tucked away on your iPad. Grab the app from the iOS App Store for those moments you notice a typo and need to quickly fix it, then go back to viewing your documents in the iPad app.
Will the release of these apps help Microsoft increase its diminishing dominance in the market, or is this a case of too little, too late? Only time and adoption will tell, so the question becomes, "should you adopt?"
If you were an Office power user clamoring for the official apps, you knew that a subscription was probably necessary or you already had one, so I would say these apps are absolutely worth your download.
Organizations that utilize Office will most likely already have subscriptions to Office 365, and if they have a heavy reliance on iPads, adding a subscription may be nothing but a small line item on a monthly expense report. In these cases, having mobile apps that are nearly equivalent to their desktop counterparts may prove invaluable, so definitely worth a download in this case as well.
But if you're like me, someone who found and utilized alternatives instead of waiting around for Microsoft, the need for these apps diminish greatly. If all I can do is view documents, grabbing the Office Mobile iPhone app will more than suffice for quickly viewing and making simple edits. But even that may be unnecessary, as Quickoffice has become my go to document editor, and oh yea, you can view documents with it too!