Microsoft packs a punch with new Office for iPad

27 Mar 2014

In his first public engagement as software giant Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella unveiled the much-anticipated Office for iPad, which will go live in the App Store at 11am PST (6pm Irish time).

The company will be making the app – which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint – available on a freemium basis for viewing documents and it will be available with editing capabilities to Office 365 subscribers, which costs US$69.99 per year or US$6.99 a month.

Microsoft Office general manager Julia White revealed an iPad version of Office that is reminiscent of Office 13 on Surface devices, complete with the touch-responsive ribbon.

“As of today at 11pm PST, Office for iPad goes live in the App Store,” White said.

Clearly a lot of thought has gone into functionality on the iPad. For example, function windows and the keyboard barely touch and when the keyboard is hidden, the function window expands.


Excel in the new Office for iPad

White said there are now 1bn Office users in the world.

Baked into the new Office for iPad is collaboration and integration with OneDrive.

“Five people could be editing a document a the same time and it is saved into OneDrive.”

All mark-ups and threaded comments appear just like they would on a desktop or notebook screen.

Interesting and thoughtful new additions unique to the Office for iPad app include a laser pointer feature built into PowerPoint and the ability to add annotations to presentations.


PowerPoint in the new Office for iPad

Mobile first, cloud first

In his first outing as Microsoft’s new CEO, Nadella didn’t disappoint, authoritatively setting out his vision for ubiquitous computing combining cloud first and mobile first, which he described as “one and the same”.

“It’s Day 52 for me and it’s been an amazing five or so weeks and perhaps the most striking thing has been how much insight I’ve gained. I’ve spend most of my adult life at Microsoft and I’m seeing things with a fresh set of eyes and relearning the place.”

Nadella said that in serving a world with ubiquitous computing, Microsoft has an amazing canvas upon which to drive innovation and growth for the company.

“The world over the next five years will not be defined by form factors, but a variety of form factors that will come to be over the next few years combining silicon, hardware, software.

“Everything we do is going to be digitised. This leads to the most important trend of all – we can reason over all that digitised information with vast amounts of capability, like machine-learning in real-time. We can improve the fidelity of those transactions.

“What you can do as humans with machines, that’s the future we are building. Phones, tablets, big screens, sensors – they are going to be everywhere – all these things have apps and that exponential growth across connected users, devices and apps are leading to this growth of the cloud.”

Nadella said the near future will be defined by the coming together of three constituents – end users, developers and IT professionals.

“Perhaps the toughest challenge for the professional is empowering the end users to do what they want to do and at the same time protect corporate assets.

“We want to allow the IT professional to be a hero,” Nadella said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years