Despite not being at Macworld|iWorld 2014, Microsoft made its presence felt

Despite not being at Macworld|iWorld 2014, Microsoft made its presence felt

Despite not being there, Microsoft made its presence known at Macworld|iWorld thanks to Office for iPad

Apple hasn't participated in CES for years, but its presence looms large over the show almost every year. Sometimes Apple's influence is overt, like the vast numbers of iPhone case makers on display. Other times it's more indirect, like the number of wearables makers at this year's show, all wanting to claim their piece of the market before Apple gets there. Similarly, Microsoft no longer exhibits at Macworld|iWorld, but made its presence felt this year in a very big way thanks to Office for iPad.

As the 2014 Macworld|iWorld show opened its expo hall doors for the first time, Microsoft's newly minted CEO Satya Nadella introduced Microsoft Office for iPad to a small invite-only gathering only a few blocks away. The software is available for free download from the App Store, though you'll have to subscribe to Microsoft's Office 365 service if you want to actually create or edit documents.

This isn't the first time you've been able to run Microsoft Office on the iPad after a fashion, if you count virtualization tools. There are Office equivalents like QuickOffice. And last October Apple began including its Office equivalent apps, Pages, Numbers and Keynote, for free, giving iPad users Office import and export capabilities. Even Microsoft's own Office Mobile for Office 365 - made for the iPhone - worked on the iPad too, albeit not as a universal app.

The iPad already has a huge presence in the enterprise and educational markets. Microsoft Office's presence on the platform doesn't legitimize it, but it does simplify things for a lot of people that depend on a native Office experience to get their work done.

Perhaps because of Macworld|iWorld's increased focus on Information Technology (IT) and its MacIT conference track, a lot of people who I spoke to at the show had strong opinions of Office for iPad. Some, like me, were skeptical that the subscription model Microsoft has employed to make Office fully usable on the iPad is worth the money. Some have concerns about being tied in to Microsoft's OneDrive cloud service. Others figure it's a shoe-in to be a huge hit, whatever the challenges. And many of us had downloaded the apps before the show closed on Thursday. I'm certain if Microsoft had been there, Office for iPad would have garnered best in show nods from many of the news outlets which do such things.

The bottom line: This is the first time since the iPad was introduced in 2010 users have had a native Office workflow. Whatever you think of Office on the iPad, this is a major tectonic shift for productivity software on the iPad. Most iPad owners and most corporate IT departments don't want to futz with "almost good enough" workflows. They want the real deal.

Our own Ally Kazmucha has put Office for iPad through its paces and has come away with a positive impression. How about you? Have you tried it out, and what do you think?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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Reader comments

Despite not being at Macworld|iWorld 2014, Microsoft made its presence felt

1 Comment

Being ready, able and competent to receive and process iWorks and Office files on a same device (iPad) might be worth the subscription. Don't you think?

For example, I created a presentation using PowerPoint for iPad last friday and have been exposing yesterday and today. I finally could get feedback with my boss with entire ease, whereas with Keynote I first need to convert to PowerPoint and adjust for precisions regarding formatting. The workaround was sending a non-editable PDF produced in Numbers. That's for cavemen now. Moreover, exposing the PPT was a breeze. People used to my iOS Keynotes saw no major difference and some even were happy to see new transitions.

Four complaints:

1. When you share a PPT via eMail, the file is transformed into a .DAT file but PPT for PC opens it anyhow. It's a complaint in that it took me a half hour to find out.

2. I wish OneDrive would bypass corporate firewalls no matter what instead of forcing me to send eMails to my ownself from the iPad to the company PC web client.

3. The software-as-a-service business model makes sense when you get 10GB for OneDrive by paying for it every year. Here in Mexico, paying for the Office 365 Home subscription via the App Store on the iPad costs $80 US dollars (exactly $1,049 mexican pesos show up on the pop-up). However the pricepoint for Office 365 Home Edition is kinda steep for a very large majority of potential users . MSFT should lower it. Given I paid the money, I hope that I either get refunded for the difference if they ever lower the price or that I get a few extra months of service before having to renew my subscription.

4. No remote app for iPhone in regards to presentations.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT FOR THOSE HESITANT TO PAY MICROSOFT:

STEP 1. Compare the yearly price of MSFT's Office Home Edition to what you spend a year in gasoline prices.

STEP 2. Ask yourself if you are comparing apples to oranges.

STEP 3. Compare with my analysis below.

My car needs $690 mexican pesos ($53 USD) every third weekend. So the price for MSFT Office 365 Home Edition is 152% more expensive than one gas tank, however, in annual terms the price of Office 365 equals 9% of what I pay for my gas annually.

Am I comparing apples to oranges? Yes, when we think in terms of concepts (service vs. gasoline). No when we think of terms of price elasticity (for some of us, both are inelastic). Also no, when we think in terms of minor professional investments (I find them both to be so). Also no when we think in terms of convenience (both certainly are at least to me).

At least in my case, the purchase makes sense.