Microsoft brings Office to the iPAD – do I just need one device now?

Today’s news is dominated by Microsoft’s announcement of Office being ported to IOS, delivering what all iPAD users, particularly those in enterprise, have been waiting for.

On the run up to this announcement, I’ve been debating with colleagues whether this move will finally see the iPad elevate its position to a core productivity device, rather than, as we tend to see, an additive device.

For some, this news will form the final piece of the puzzle to allow them to use the iPad as their sole device, and they will take little persuasion to try to adopt and embrace this.   For me, I don’t think that I would be able to work on a tablet to do all of the things I need to do.

With this announcement were a couple of key points. The free version doesn’t provide document editing, to get that requires an Office 365 subscription. The vast majority of business uses will no doubt need the advanced features of the paid version, and will be able to easily justify the cost.  This will no doubt also be positive for Office 365 uptake and may encourage customers to look at exploiting other 365 features.

I think bringing the power of Office to the iPad is a great move, and one which was inevitable given how the platform market has moved and the significance of the Office business in Microsoft.  Whilst there are other productivity applications available, many of which I have used and are very good, native Office will provide a much better and more familiar experience and remove some of the “niggles” that can appear with files formats etc.  But going back to my personal use and needs, productivity apps are all about multi-tasking and there are still some fundamental limitations to true multitasking on a tablet compared to how you use a desktop that are more difficult to overcome and will keep me with a laptop for some time I suspect.

We also need to consider this in context of a full mobile delivery platform.  While Office is arguably the key application suite for many use cases, and this move is a significant one for several reasons, we can’t just get hung up on the apps.  Of equal importance is content delivery, where will users store and access all of these Office files in a secure and governed way, across teams and across other devices? We consider an integrated mobility solution as comprised of applications, content and policy controls, so need to cater for each aspect equally for maximum value

I will be keeping my eye out around the office and in the customers I visit for users who make the full shift to a single tablet device now. I do know for many that’s the objective, so I won’t be surprised if some can make it work



(written from Office on a laptop, for now!)

About Paul Bray

Paul is Computacenter’s Chief Technologist for Computacenter in the UK & Ireland @PSBray

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