By Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Microsoft has released Office for iPad — full-featured tablet apps including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. It’s long overdue, it faces some stiff competition — namely, from Apple’s iWork productivity suite, which is free for most users.
There’s no cost to download Office for iPad, but to create or edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, you’ll have to sign up for Office 365 — that starts at $70/year (with the forthcoming ‘Personal’ plan).
But once you do, a Word document goes from clunky and jumbled to looking the way it’s designed to: “There’s my table of contents. If I scroll down, you can see there are embedded graphics. Even my footnotes. Everything looks perfect. I even have tables and charts right here in my Word document.”
Microsoft’s Julia White says the features look familiar to Office users on PC. Students or workplace colleagues can collaborate and track changes in real time, and since files are saved to the company’s OneDrive cloud storage.
“If I’m making edits on the go, everything’s saved. I never have to worry about losing anything.”
And Office for iPad gets some unique features — like this, for PowerPoint: “If I touch and hold, I actually get a laser pointer. So as I’m presenting, I can really call attention to what I’m talking about.”
New CEO Satya Nadella says it’s part of his push to make Microsoft mobile-focused, “It is about being able to excel everywhere our customers are.”