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Microsoft Office for iPad: Hit or miss?

April 08, 2014 10:08 IST

Microsoft Office for iPad: Hit or miss?

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Abhik Sen

One thing we loved about Office was its ability to seamlessly insert pictures from the camera roll, OneDrive or photo stream.

Microsoft Office.These two words conjure up devotion and vitriol in equal portions but no one who works with documents, spreadsheets or presentations can ignore it.

Since the launch of the killer device - the iPad - Office users have waited with bated breath for Microsoft's office suite.

When it finally arrived in the last week of last month, I wasted no time in downloading it on my iPad. After all, it was for free.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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Microsoft Office for iPad: Hit or miss?

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I already used a keyboard case with my fourth-generation iPad, and I, like many others, thought we could finally be free from the shackles of our laptop. But downloading Office for iPad was only half the story.

One can use the suite all right - to access and view documents. One needs a subscription to Office 365 to be able to use all the features - such as editing, creating and saving documents (on OneDrive by default). Trial subscription (for one month) in place, we started using Office on the iPad.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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Microsoft Office for iPad: Hit or miss?

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I clicked on Word and was taken aback by its similarity with the desktop version. The same ribbon interface, the familiar functions, the same templates - in short, the same convenience.

The hitch is you'll have to get used to working with touch instead of the mouse pointer.

But if you feel at home with Word/Office, it won't take you long to get cracking with the app.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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Microsoft Office for iPad: Hit or miss?

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One issue we noticed was with fonts - some didn't display correctly. We don't know whether the functionality is limited by the fonts one has on the iPad or a patchy internet connection (which prevented the missing fonts from being downloaded) is to blame.

Spreadsheets on Excel never looked better (the Retina display, what else?). One would need some time to acclimatise oneself with side-scrolling big spreadsheets, but it works smoothly.

As for PowerPoint, it's pretty much what one gets on the desktop, though I personally prefer the interface of Apple's Keynote app.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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Microsoft Office for iPad: Hit or miss?

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One thing we loved about Office was its ability to seamlessly insert pictures from the camera roll, OneDrive or photo stream. 

The trouble, though, lies with where you want to save your files or access them. Office can save to the local drive but saves on OneDrive by default.

Also, it can read files only off Microsoft's cloud service, so if you store all your documents on Dropbox, like I do, things can be difficult.

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Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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Microsoft Office for iPad: Hit or miss?

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Now comes the niggling bit. Will I buy a subscription to Office 365, especially when I already have an older standalone suite of Office apps?

My answer is no, because my Office licence allows me to install it on three PCs. It doesn't help that my iPad, which has Office installed, won't be counted among the five devices I'm allowed to install Office to with the Office 365 application.

For, I would be paying about Rs 420 a month just to use Office on my iPad.

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Image: Satya Nadella
Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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Microsoft Office for iPad: Hit or miss?

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But what if you don't own an Office licence yet or already have an Office 365 subscription?

Then Office for iPad makes perfect sense - just pair it with Office 365 subscription. And if you bought an OS7 device, you'll also have a choice of two office suites, one from Apple and one from Microsoft. 

Office for iPad, though, will remain on my Apple tablet, even if I'm not going to subscribe to Office 365. That's because I can't get enough of viewing Office documents natively on the brilliant screen of my iPad.

 


Photographs: Courtesy, Microsoft

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