Last week, Microsoft surprised a lot of people when they made Word, Excel and PowerPoint completely free for iOS devices. The apps themselves were always free for viewing documents, but editing access required an Office 365 subscription. Not any more. The subscription element was removed and now anyone with a free Microsoft account can view, create and edit Office documents on an iPad at no additional cost. They also included support for Dropbox so that you can open documents stored in Dropbox, edit them, and save them back to Dropbox.
So, what is it like using Office on an iPad? It’s very enjoyable actually. Your documents, presentations and spreadsheets all format exactly the way you would hope they would with no strange views for a mobile device like the iPad. Everything is saved to your OneDrive or Dropbox account, so all your work is still available to you if you leave the iPad and start working on a desktop or Windows tablet.
You don’t get all the features that you do in the Windows desktop apps, but you get the vast majority of the ones that you need most often. Interestingly, you often get features on the iPad version of Office than you don’t get in the free Office Online web apps, but maybe that will change in the near future to restore some of that parity.
If you are new to Office on the iPad, then be sure to check out the video tutorials that Microsoft has created to help you get started with these great apps. Links to the training materials are below:
- Training videos for Word for iPad
- Training videos for PowerPoint for iPad
- Training videos for Excel for iPad
Finally, if you have been using Office for iPad before, and bought an Office 365 subscription in order to do that, you can get a pro-rated refund from Microsoft, or from Apple if you bought your subscription as an in-app purchase. More details here. I for one do have an Office 365 subscription, so I have been using Office on the iPad for a while now, along with the excellent OneNote for iPad, and I am glad that Microsoft has made this move to open up its software to even more people than before.
Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, looks focused on bringing its products to as many devices as possible, at a cost that makes them affordable too. So if you haven’t at least tried these apps I would recommend you check them out. In my opinion, they are superior to almost anything else that you would put in the same category. Links to the apps are below: