Microsoft Office for iPad has been out for a couple days now, and has been met with much excitement across all communities, particularly business oriented communities. The app marks a rare moment of cooperation between Microsoft, and its prime competitor, Apple. This cooperation is likely because of the success of tablet technology. Tablets have become more and more widely used by businesses small and large. Smaller businesses often use an iPad as a cash register and a means of processing credit transactions when they do not have access to a more permanent credit processing system. Access to Microsoft Office will allow smaller businesses like these to keep records and transactions all on one system. The release of the Office Suite for iOS sparked much excitement among anyone with a taste in the technology.
While certainly the reveal was met with open arms, how does the Microsoft Office app stack up to Apple’s iWork, or the standard computer version in its actual performance? What does the professional world think about it? Is it useful? The app is available for Read Only use for free, users who wish to actually create content must sign up for an Office 365 subscription, which will run renewing and new users for around $100. Once this is done, users will be able to create and save their own content while working with the app. Unfortunately, the app does not quite support everything that a full PC version can support. Users will find that the the app does not offer any method of printing. On top of this, each member of the suite lacks certain features that are staples of the home computer version of Microsoft Office. For instance, one reviewer, writes that the version of Word lacks the ability to create charts, while the version of PowerPoint does not have a function for creating animations, a necessary feature for those wanting to work with it. Microsoft aims to offer future updates that will likely either improve upon or include new features to make the app perform better.
The app stores “free” apps are notorious for the implementing the use of “in-app purchases” and it appears that Microsoft Office suite is no different. Certainly for larger businesses this is not an issue, but for families and smaller businesses hoping to get any real use out of the app, the $100 price to get full use may seem a little steep. While the use of a PC is definitely a better option at this point, users of the app can expect future updates to make the app work better for them. Unfortunately as it stands now, Microsoft Office on Apple’s iPad might not stack up to the overall efficency and availability of the familiar and more widely used home or office versions available on a standard computer. Tablets are a useful innovation that have very serious potential to become a more widely used source, but until developers start implementing their uses and capabilities more properly, they fall just short of a universal computing device for either businesses or homes. With their future plans for the app, hopefully Microsoft’s support for Apple’s iPad will increase the productivity of Microsoft Office in the future.
Opinion by Michael Foster