A few months ago, Microsoft released a version of Microsoft Office for the iPhone. That app lacks many of the important features of Office on the PC or Mac, but the app does let you read and modify a Microsoft Word document without losing any of the formatting in the document, which is sometimes all that you want to do on a mobile device. The app itself is free, but you can only use it if you pay $10 a month or $100 a year to subscribe to Office 365, which also gets you the current version of Microsoft Office for the PC or Mac. My review of Microsoft Office Mobile for iPhone is here.
However, what I and most other attorneys want is a full-featured version of Microsoft Office — especially Microsoft Word — that works on an iPad. Yesterday, at a Gartner event in Florida, Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer announced that Microsoft is working on a version of Microsoft Office for the iPad, and said that it will be released when Microsoft finishes working on a touch interface to Microsoft Office which will also be incorporated into the Windows version of Office. Tom Warren of The Verge has details in this article.
I'm thrilled to see some official confirmation from the top executive that this app is coming, but that doesn't mean that it is coming soon. A Microsoft spokesman told The Verge in November of 2012 that Office was coming to iOS, and it was seven months before we saw that limited version of Microsoft Office Mobile for iPhone that I mentioned above. And back in December of 2011, Matt Hickey of the now defunct publication The Daily reported a rumor that Microsoft was "actively working" on Microsoft Office for the iPad. Moreover, even when Microsoft does eventually release Office for the iPad, it will be interesting to see whether it includes sophisticated but important features such as track changes and styles.
In the meantime, my current favorite app for working with Microsoft Word documents on the iPad is Documents to Go by Dataviz. It does a nice job of showing footnotes, track changes redline edits and comments in a Word document. If I need to create redline edits in a Microsoft Word document, I think that Apple's Pages app is currently the best solution, but unfortunately when you convert a document from Word format to Pages format and then back to Word format some of the formatting can sometimes get lost. I also like Quickoffice, an app that was recently purchased by Google and as a result is now a free app. Quickoffice can show and create redline edits, but unfortunately it doesn't show footnotes, which is usually a deal-breaker for me because I always have footnotes in my legal documents. Office² is also a good word processor for the iPad, although sometimes I have problems with the app crashing when I work with larger briefs.
My hope is that we do not have to wait long to see Microsoft Office on the iPad, and I also hope that it is a full-featured app, unlike the app recently released for the iPhone. There are lots of reasons that it is in Microsoft's own interests to release such an app, as noted here and here by California attorney David Sparks. Indeed, while Microsoft surely prefers that you run the desktop version of Word on a PC and the portable version of Word on a Microsoft Surface tablet, Microsoft has been selling Word for Macintosh since 1985, so there is nothing unusual about Microsoft selling Word and the other Office applications on an Apple platform.
In the meantime, here are links to download the apps I mentioned above:
Click here to get Microsoft Office Mobile for iPhone (free, with subscription):
Click here to get Documents to Go Standard by Dataviz ($9.99):
Click here to get Pages by Apple ($9.99):
Click here to get Quickoffice (free):
Click here to get Office² HD ($7.99):