While tablets, like iPads, have made great strides in the enterprise, the truth is there’s been an Achilles’ heel to Apple’s tablet: no Microsoft Office. Or at least, no official version of Office on the iPad.
That’s meant critical work documents accessed on the iPad were like museum artifacts: Users could touch and view the documents, but getting into them to do real editing or creation was a headache. This has been especially frustrating since the iPad is the leading tablet product in the enterprise, according to recent survey data by Good Technology and reported by InformationWeek.
The iPad made its mark on the industry in 2010, but it’s taken four years for Microsoft to unveil its product, which it did when its new CEO, Satya Nadella, announced the product at its BUILD Conference in March. So far, the Office for iPad apps have proven to scratch enterprise IT users' itch, since they racked up 12 million app downloads in their first week.
— Office (@Office) April 3, 2014
Office for iPad’s Long Journey
In a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA), the engineers responsible for Office for iPad answered questions from Internet users and shed some light on the software’s development. For example, while Nadella has gotten lots of press for making Microsoft a more open company, Office for iPad actually started with former CEO Steve Ballmer.
“The decision to ship Office for iPad was made before Satya became CEO. Steve Ballmer approved the plan to ship Office for iPad,” said Kaberi Chowdhury, Technical Product Manager, Office for iPad in the Reddit AMA.
Additionally, though the app currently doesn’t have printing functionality built into it, the option to print is available to users later since the Office for iPad apps are updated through Office 365 subscriptions.
“One of the great things about Office 365 being a subscription is that you can expect to get frequent updates, so stay tuned!” said someone on the Office for iPad team who identified himself as Dan.
IT journalist David Braue heralded Office for iPad as an essential component of the future of the mobile workforce in a recent article on ZDNet.
“It's great that Microsoft has set the new baseline for Office compatibility on the device that most of us are using for an increasing share of our work. Office for iPad will only get better — and, with the inevitable addition of features that better tie it into corporate collaboration environments, we can expect it to become a must-have for mobile workers in the future,” he said.