Microsoft announces Office for iPad

It’s available right now – but you’ll need an Office 365 subscription to edit files

Own an iPad? Love Excel, Word and PowerPoint? Then today’s your lucky day, because Microsoft has just launched a version of Office specially tailored for Apple’s tablet.

The three separate apps (the fourth part of Office, Outlook, is not getting its own app) boast an interface designed with touch control very much at the forefront, as well a beautifully clean look. Documents can be retrieved from and saved to a OneDrive or SharePoint account.

We’ve heard rumblings before concerning an iPad edition of Microsoft’s hugely popular suite of productivity programs (I mean, here’s a rumour story from over two years ago speculating that it might be about to arrive at the App Store), and there’s already a version of Office for the iPhone, so this news doesn’t come as a huge surprise.

You can download the apps from today for free, although if you want to edit documents in any of them you’ll need a Microsoft Office 365 subscription, which costs £80 a year (a more affordable Office 365 Personal option will arrive in the spring). You can view documents or give presentations without having to pay a penny, however.

With over a billion people using Office every day, Microsoft clearly thinks that there’s plenty of call for it on the iPad. And that it’ll sell a lot of new Office 365 subscriptions. But there is the possibility that, having waited so long to bring Office to the iPad, Microsoft has already lost the battle for tablet productivity apps. Apple’s own iWork productivity suite has been available on the iPad from day one, while Google Drive (which is free, of course) allows users to create and edit documents across all sorts of devices, including the iPad.

Nonetheless, Microsoft appears to have done a good job in bringing a functional Office to Apple’s tablet, and once we’ve spent some time with it we’ll let you know what we think.

More after the break...