Office for the iPad: Important even if you are not a Microsoft fan

Microsoft is woefully late to market, but don’t underestimate incoming Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s move to launch iPad versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

The software is powerful and polished. Microsoft clearly had time to iron out the kinks before launching.

It looks as if Microsoft has been ready for some time. I can’t help think the apps were only held up by internal politics or wrong-headed strategists.

Apps have never been more strategically important

Despite Microsoft’s official message about moving from being a software giant to a ‘software and devices’ business, Office is still the company’s biggest money maker. It pays the bills. Giving that away to rivals, Google, Apple or anyone else who tried to fill the gaping void for Office software on the iPad, was just dumb.

Strictly speaking there’s no such thing as Office for the iPad, just Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote for the iPad. Each appears separately in the app store.

They are free downloads. You can do basic things with them in their raw state, but to unlock their full power, you need an Office 365 subscription.

More clever strategy

 

And that’s another strategic win for Microsoft: a standard 365 subscription means you can use all the Office apps across Windows and Macintosh PCs, Windows or Apple tablets and on Windows or iOS phones.

The glue holding all this together is OneDrive — formerly known as SkyDrive — Microsoft’s cloud service.

With OneDrive you can compose a document on a desktop, edit it on a tablet and deliver it from a phone. Better still, you can share documents with others.

While similar functionality has been possible with Google Drive and iCloud for some time, Office remains the gold standard for business productivity software. If you want to play nicely with other companies, Office remains a must-have.

Joining all the dots should help Microsoft keep it in that top spot and keep the lucrative Office revenues rolling in. Office for the iPad is a triumph in its own right, a great start for the new CEO and an indication that Microsoft is back on track.