By Michael Lasky and Lincoln Spector
Over 150 million is not a market size that anyone can ignore — not even Microsoft. That’s the number of iPads in use, many of them at work.
Bowing to the obvious, Microsoft released Office for iPad on March 27 via the Apple App Store. It’s a good start, but there are, of course, some serious limitations.
The three faces of Office for iPad
Although Microsoft is promoting “Office for iPad,” there’s actually no single app with that name. Office for iPad is offered as three separate apps: Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. You can download and install whichever of the three you want. Many iPad/Windows users will recall that Microsoft tested the waters with OneNote for iPad about a year ago.
According to the information in the App Store, the three new Office for iPad apps are free. But Microsoft isn’t that generous; you need an Office 365 account to use them in any meaningful way. Without an Office 365 account, the three apps are nothing more than document viewers. (Microsoft’s licensing essentially allows Office 365 on one tablet for every licensed PC or Mac. That is, Office 365 Home lets you install the suite on up to five systems — PCs and/or Macs — plus five tablets. You’ll find more about Office 365 on its MS site.)
The iPad, as with all tablets, has always been more about consumption than production. It’s used mostly for reading, watching videos, listening to music, and checking email. It’s not an ideal platform for writing major reports or crunching vast fields of numbers.