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Today (March 27, 2014) in San Francisco, we made some exciting announcements about our company’s mobile first, cloud first approach. Office played a big part in today’s news. Over a billion people on the planet use Microsoft Office to get more done at work and at home. Every day we hear from you how important it is to have a great productivity experience on all the devices you use. We take that very seriously – we know that means you want the authentic experience of Office, made right for the device you’re using. Whether you’re creating an Excel spreadsheet on your tablet, authoring a Word document in the browser or making edits to a PowerPoint on your phone, you want the great Office experience you love, everywhere you are. Today, we unveiled Office for iPad® – specifically Word, PowerPoint and Excel. But this isn’t simply Office on another device. We thought a lot about what people want to do when they’re on their tablet, iPad functionality, and touch-first when we were building Office for iPad. We reimagined Office on the iPad, while retaining what people love about Office. We hope you’ll be as pleased with the results as we are. In the future, we will bring Office apps to the Windows Store and other popular platforms. In addition to Office for iPad, we’ve gone a step further in our mobile first and cloud first approach, and like Windows Phone, we’ve now made Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones available for free. You can read more about how we’re expanding Office across devices below.

Office for iPad

We know you’ve been wanting it, and starting today, you can download Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad from the App Store. The apps have the robust capabilities and familiar look and feel that is unmistakably Office, while offering a fantastic touch experience built from the ground up for iPad. With the free versions of the apps, you can read your Word documents, view your Excel data and present with PowerPoint. Your documents will look as good as they do on your PC and Mac®, and better than ever on your iPad. With an Office 365 subscription, you can edit and create new documents with the iPad. When you edit a document, you can be sure that content and formatting will be maintained across Office on PC, Mac, tablet and phone. And, you always have access to your up-to-date documents in OneDrive and OneDrive for Business.

Your Office 365 subscription not only gets you the Office for iPad apps installed on up to 5 tablets, but also 5 copies across Office for your PCs and Macs. With one subscription all of your devices are covered, so you can work the way you want.

Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones free

Just like Office Mobile for Windows Phone, we are making Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones free for everyone. With Office Mobile, you have the ability to view and edit your Office content on the go. Office Mobile is available in the App Store and Google Play.

Office documents look better than ever on iPad. They look just as they do on your PC or Mac. In Word, images, tables, SmartArt, footnotes, equations are all there, perfectly formatted. Formulas, charts, sparklines, conditional formatting, and filters in Excel help you make better decisions. PowerPoint presentations pack a punch with transitions, animations, speaker notes and much more. When presenting, you can even use a built-in laser pointer, pens and highlighters to get your point across.

A familiar Office experience designed for iPad. What makes these apps unique is that they strike just the right balance between being unmistakably Office and being designed for the iPad. If you use Office on a PC or Mac, the iPad apps feel very familiar, so you are comfortable and confident using these apps right away. The Ribbon layout and experience is familiar, with the most common commands under Home, and Chart commands automatically show up when you select a chart.

At the same time, these apps were created from the ground up for iPad. The large touch areas on the Ribbon and in overlay menus make it simple to create, edit and format documents using only touch. Resize and rotate objects like pictures with touch-friendly handles. When you hold and move the objects, text flows smoothly around them. No keyboard and mouse required. You can even use iPad features like voice dictation to draft a Word document or AirPlay® to project a presentation wirelessly on a TV screen.

Edit, create and collaborate with confidence. When you edit documents with the Office for iPad apps, you can be sure that you won’t lose any content or formatting. Documents will look exactly how you intended in Office on PC, Mac, tablet and phone – regardless of which device you used to make the edits. Moreover, the apps have a remarkably rich feature set to create beautifully designed documents.

In addition, the apps make it easy to work together. Simply share your content with others thanks to OneDrive and then work simultaneously with multiple people on the same document or presentation. And, reviewing documents is now great on the iPad. Word documents can track changes, have threaded comments and easily accept or reject edits all right on the iPad.

Made for the cloud and Office 365. Since people want to be able to get things done everywhere, the apps are seamlessly integrated with Microsoft’s cloud services. The apps let you access up-to-date documents in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint. It’s easy to pick up from where you left off, because the apps know what documents you were working on last, no matter what device you were using. Even if you don’t have an Internet connection for a while, you’ll still be able to work on the documents you’ve recently used on the iPad.

Finally, here are answers to some questions you may have:

Q: How much does Office for iPad cost?

A: You can download the Office apps for free and read, view and present documents, spreadsheets and presentations. To get the full editing and creation experience, you need an Office 365 subscription. Office 365 gives you always-up-to-date versions of Office across your PC, Mac and iPad, and much more.

Q: Can I try Office for iPad?

A: Yes, you can read, view and present documents, spreadsheets and presentations for free. To get the full editing and creation experience, you can sign up for a free 30 day Office 365 trial at www.office.com/try. Then download the Office for iPad apps in the App Store. During your trial period, you can use Office across your PC, Mac and iPad.

Q: What Office 365 subscription plans include Office for iPad?

A: Office 365 Home, Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office 365 Midsize Business, Office 365 E3 and E4 (Enterprise and Government), Office 365 Education A3 and A4, Office 365 ProPlus, and Office 365 University. The new Office 365 Personal will also qualify when it becomes available later this spring.

Q: What are the system requirements for Office for iPad?

A: You need an iPad running iOS 7.0 or later.

Q: What languages and markets is Office for iPad available in?

A: We offer Office for iPad in the following 29 languages: Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish , Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Norwegian, Polish , Brazilian Portuguese, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish , Swedish, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian.

As of today, Office for iPad is available in the following 135 markets: Albania, Angola, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Cape Verde, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Republic of, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea, Republic of, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Micronesia, Fed. States of, Moldova, Republic of, Mongolia, Montserrat, Mozambique, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Palau, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis, St Vincent & Grenada, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe.

Published in Blogs
Tuesday, 18 March 2014 21:42

Office For Tablets: Microsoft's Godot

Halfway through the first quarter of 2014, Microsoft's 'touch first' version of Office is still nowhere to be found

Apple launched the iPad four years ago, igniting a tablet frenzy that altered personal computing at home and at work, but Microsoft has yet to release an Office version for touchscreen devices.

Much is made about the absence of full, native versions of Office for iPads and Android tablets, but Microsoft hasn't even readied one yet for its own touch-optimized Windows 8 OS, released in October 2012, thus depriving its own Surface tablets of a great sales incentive.

As the clock ticks and users wait, rivals continue shipping new mobile productivity apps and perfecting existing ones that for many people provide functionality that is acceptable and, in the absence of Office, does the trick.

So with each passing day, Office's risk of irrelevance increases as a tablet productivity software suite, which in turn endangers the growth and future of one of Microsoft's most important businesses.

Compounding the delay is the reticence of Microsoft officials to speak clearly regarding the company's plans and timetables. In September and October, former CEO Steve Ballmer said on a couple of occasions that Office versions for iPad and Android tablets were in the works, and would ship after the "touch-first" version for Windows 8.

However, marketing chief Tami Reller was much less clear about the plans during a public appearance last week. Asked for comment about a touchscreen version of Office, a Microsoft spokesman said via email this week that "we don't have any specifics to share" but reiterated Ballmer's statements that the company is working "on touch-first enabled versions of our core Office applications -- including Word, Excel and PowerPoint."

"We can tell you that people's needs are always changing when it comes to productivity applications and Office continues to change with them, whether that means enhancing existing applications, shifting to cloud services, extending Office to mobile devices or adding entirely new applications to the Office suite," the spokesman said.

At this point, the timing of these products may be a moot point. They're late.

"It's taken way too long. Work on an interface for touch-based Office should have started shortly after the iPad was released, at the latest," said Michael Silver, a Gartner analyst.

Critics have theorized that Microsoft deliberately dragged its feet on prepping a version of Office for the iPad out of fear it would hurt Windows and help iOS. It's also understood that adapting Office for touchscreens is a tall order.

Whatever the reasons, time is of the essence, according to IDC analyst Melissa Webster.

"It's critical. Without a touch version of Office, Microsoft will become a dinosaur," she said via email. "There's a whole generation that thinks touch first."

"Certainly, we still have a long way to go in terms of the optimum user interface for touch. For those of us who can touch type, touch screens can be frustrating still. But make no mistake, touch is the future, whether assisted with voice, or something else," she added.

For more than 20 years, Microsoft pursued the goal of making Office as feature rich as possible, and this was the right strategy because the suite lived in PCs, which were people's only computing device, ruled by a keyboard and mouse. However, PCs now share the workload with tablets and smartphones, so that the creation, assembling, editing and fine-tuning of a document may be done at different stages on all three types of devices.

So what should enterprise IT leaders do? Guy Creese, a Gartner analyst, said it would be best for them to assume Office for the iPad will not ship and instead focus on asking their users what they're currently using for office productivity on tablets and why. "Support a varied set of productivity suites based on that feedback," he said via email. "IT has waited long enough for Microsoft to deliver Office on a wildly popular device."

Yes, Office runs on Windows 8 PCs and tablets, but with its traditional interface designed for use with keyboard and mouse. For tablets, the Office interface needs to be deeply reimagined.

"The streamlined interface of tablets built for fingertip control is the exact opposite of the feature-rich interface of legacy Office designed for fine-grained mouse control -- and right clicks," Creese said.

The work to adapt Office for touchscreens is no cakewalk. There's a lot of functionality and capabilities that need to be translated into a touch environment, and it's not clear what will work and what won't.

"There's no playbook or road map for that," said TJ Keitt, a Forrester Research analyst. "How do you touch-enable the creation of an Excel pivot table? How does that look like? It's not a matter of making the cursor your finger and having drop-down menus. It's more complicated."

Ultimately, the goal for Microsoft and for other providers of productivity software should be to make their products available to people in all scenarios. "They have to ensure they're on all devices and providing contextually appropriate services for the computing experience people have over the course of their day, week and month," Keitt said.

Because Office is such an established product, Microsoft has to get this touch version right from the start, which puts the company at a disadvantage compared to products with lower expectations and may be adding to the delay.

"Microsoft has to ship something that is rock solid and will be well received. They don't have the luxury of putting out something that's imperfect and promising to improve it later, due to the criticality of Office for Microsoft and the criticism of their previous moves and all the close attention being paid to this," said Phil Karcher, a Forrester Research analyst.

Microsoft released a version of Office for iPhones called Office Mobile but it hasn't generated a lot of enthusiasm. Smartphone screens are too small, and the feature set of this suite is limited, so there's only so much that can be accomplished with it. Plus, it requires a subscription to Office 365, the cloud-hosted version of the suite.

Microsoft has also designed the Office Web Apps browser-based version of the suite to work better in iPads specifically. But Office Web Apps doesn't have all the apps and functionality of the full Office suite, and it requires an Internet connection.

"I think people would be pretty disappointed in a touch-based Office that looked like Office Web Apps. Making icons larger and spacing them out is a band-aid. Microsoft needs to take this as an opportunity to do something innovative," Silver said via email.

"If you were designing a touch-based productivity product from scratch, you would never come up with something that looks like Office," Silver added. "You would try to understand the functions people really want to use without a keyboard and design a finger-friendly application for them."

In a recent Gartner survey of 500 users, respondents listed more than 30 different products they use for office productivity tasks on tablets.

Rivals include Apple's iWork apps for iOS like Pages, Numbers and Keynote; Google's QuickOffice and Drive/Docs; Evernote; Documents To Go; and many others.

Microsoft has released iPad and Android tablet versions for some of its Office apps, including OneNote, Lync and OneDrive, the cloud storage service known until recently as SkyDrive, but Word, Excel, PowerPoint and other suite apps haven't been ported.

For Silver, a touch edition of Office should have been out a year or two ago.

 

"It's understandable that Microsoft is cautious, but the longer they wait to ship iPad and Android versions, the less relevant they are. Over time, people will get used to inexpensive 'good enough' products," he said. "With the Office franchise already at risk, they need to make some decisive moves."

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