Microsoft’s recent improvements to Office for iPad and iPhone, plus the launch of a beta Office on Android, has many Windows wonks wondering, “What the … happened to us?”
A touch version of Office is scheduled for release around the time when we’ll see a production Windows 10, but recent events strongly suggest that Microsoft no longer considers Windows the “first” platform.
A brief history of Office for iPad and iPhone
Microsoft released its first version of Office for iPad this past March. More accurately, Microsoft released two versions of Office forthe iPad. One was free, and the other required a paid Office 365 subscription. Offered at the Apple Store, both versions consisted of separate Word, Excel, and PowerPoint apps.
Most users discovered that the free version of Office for iPad was little more than a viewer. You could open an existing file but could not create a new file. You could also make a few small edits such as cut and paste, and you could view comments. In Excel, you could recalculate sheets plus sort and filter tables. But you couldn’t save a modified file, even to the cloud. (You could, however, email it.) PowerPoint let you make presentations from an already-existing PPTX file, but that was about it.
The paid version of Office for iPad was far more useful. It let you create new documents and save them to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business,or SharePoint — or onto the iPad directly. It also had significant editing and formatting options, though they were still a subset of the tools we all know from the full Windows and Mac Office suites.
(Apple aficionados argued that Office for iPad didn’t come close to Apple’s free iPad suite. For example, InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman called Office “no match for iWork.”)
As noted above, the full Office for iPad version required an Office 365 subscription, starting at around U.S. $99 a year. (That $99 subscription also included four additional Office licenses for Windows and Mac systems. Recently, Microsoft announced that Office 365 subscribers will get unlimited, free, online OneDrive storage, according to a Office Blogs post.)