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Microsoft Office for iPad review: Finally! True productivity on your tablet

Mark Hachman | March 28, 2014
When Apple announced that its iWork suite would be bundled, free of charge, with new iOS and Mac devices, it seemingly slammed the door on Microsoft's Office ambitions for the iPad. How could Microsoft bring its pricey Office suite into a world of free (and almost free) apps?

A solid tablet tool

One feature that Microsoft has excluded — for now — is the "live data" functionality, such as PowerMap, built into the PowerBI functionality for Office 2013. When I asked about this, Atalla gave a very Google-like response: Office 365 is "moving fast" and will add new features in the future. 

Traditionally, Office Web Apps (now Office Online) felt a bit like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football: Just when a particular feature was desperately needed, Microsoft would try to upsell you to its full-fledged Office suite. I never ran into that in Office for iPad, nor did I run into too many situations where it simply couldn't perform a basic but vital task.

At present, I haven't spent enough time with Office for iPad alongside the Apple iWork suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) to definitively give one suite the edge over the other. My thinking, however, is that you'll prefer Word for iPad over Pages, with perhaps a slight edge to Excel, as well. I've always been very impressed with Keynote, however, and I suspect that most iPad users will prefer to stick with it.

Nevertheless, kudos to the Office for iPad team. They've created a suite of "free" apps as good or better than anything Apple has created. My only remaining question is this: What will the new version of Office for the Mac look like? If Microsoft can make lightning strike twice, Apple's iWork team will have its work cut out for it.

Correction:  An Office 365 subscription is required to edit as well as create documents.


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