I'm at ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago right now, and the big news on Thursday was that Microsoft released a version of Word (and Excel, and PowerPoint) for the iPad. I have been kicking the tires on this app since it was released Thursday afternoon, and I am incredibly impressed. Unlike Microsoft Office Mobile for iPhone released last year, the new Word app for the iPad has virtually every feature that lawyers want to use. Every attorney who uses an iPad will want to get this app. [UPDATE: Click here for my full review of Microsoft Word for iPad.]
Unlike the iPhone app released last year, this app works great with track changes (redline edits). You can view redline edits, you can create your own redline edits, and you can control how they display (inline with text or off to the side). The app also displays footnotes. And unlike some of the other apps that can revise Word documents, this app seems to preserve formatting. Thus, someone can email you a document, you can read and edit the document, and then you can send it back to them, all using your iPad and not a computer.
So far, my only complaint with Word for iPad is that while it it easy to get a file into the app, it is difficult to get files out. You can open a Word document attached to an email by simply holding down your finger on it to see the "Open in" menu and then selecting the Word app. But once a file is in Word for iPad, you can only save it (to your iPad or to your Microsoft OneDrive) and the only way to get the document out of the app is to email it. You cannot choose to "Open in" another app, nor can you print, nor can you save to DropBox, Box, or any of the other cloud storage services. As a workaround, you can email to yourself, and from there you can work with the attachment to your self-directed email.
Anyone can download the app for free and use it to view Word files, and if you have an Office 365 subscription ($100 a year) you can edit and save files. The release of this app is going to cause a huge number of attorneys to purchase Office 365 accounts. And all of the third party apps that we have been using for years to view Word documents are going to have to find ways to distinguish themselves. For example, Reader 7 does a great job of displaying your document full screen, an option not in the current version of Word for iPad.
I haven't started looking at the new Excel and PowerPoint apps for iPad, but my hope is that they are as good as Word for iPad.
Kudos to Microsoft for releasing such an amazing iPad app that every attorney is going to want to have.