Microsoft on Thursday launched Office for iPad, its suite of productivity apps that have been optimized for touch and for use on Apple’s market-dominating tablet.
The Office for iPad apps are free if users only want to read and present documents, spreadsheets and slides. But users who want to create and edit documents will have to have an Office 365 subscription. (The apps come free for Office 365 subscribers.)
Office 365 prices vary by version. But the version most consumers use — Office 365 Home Premium — costs $100 a year or $10 a month if paying month-by-month. Microsoft will also be launching soon a version for individuals that allows for connection to one PC or Mac and one tablet. That version, called Office 365 Personal, costs $70 a year or $7 a month if paid month-by-month.
The announcement, made at a news briefing held today in San Francisco, is new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s first official press event since taking over last month from former CEO Steve Ballmer.
He called the company’s announcements as exemplifying a “magical coming together of the cloud and mobile.”
It also marks Nadella’s first big move toward realizing his “mobile first, cloud first” vision for the company — a vision that involves the recognition that Microsoft has to be far more open to other platforms, with services designed to run on or work seamlessly with rival companies’ operating systems and services.
Making Office available for rival Apple’s iPad marks a significant shift away from Microsoft’s practice in the past few decades of centering its offerings around Windows. (A notable exception early on in Microsoft’s history was, ironically, Office for Mac, which Microsoft offered at a time when it was trying to expand its own user base.)
The thinking for years at Microsoft was that its products and services — including cash cow Office — all had to bolster and protect its core Windows franchise, which is still the dominant operating system used on PCs worldwide.
But at a time when PC sales are declining yearly and mobile devices have become pervasive, Microsoft’s presence and relevance in computing has been declining. The overwhelming majority of the world’s smartphones and tablets run on Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS operating systems, rather than Microsoft’s Windows, Windows RT or Windows Phone platforms.
At the press briefing today, Nadella said that Windows is still “a massive agenda for us. We will innovate.”
At the same time, he said, “we are absolutely committed” to making the company’s applications run great cross-platform.
“It is about being able to excel everywhere our customers are,” he said. “What motivates us is to make sure that we build the great experiences that span the digital life and digital work of our customers, both individually and as organizations. And that’s what you can count on us doing, both with Windows as well as other platforms.”
The company on Thursday also said it was making free of charge its Office Mobile apps for iPhone and Android phones. Users of those apps will be able to view and edit content without an Office 365 subscription.
It also announced new or updated services for corporations’ IT departments including Enterprise Mobility Suite, a set of cloud services to help businesses manage corporate data and services on employees’ mobile devices; and the upcoming availability of cloud-based access and identity management service Microsoft Azure Active Directory Premium.
[For the fuller story on the Office for iPad launch and how it’s a break from Microsoft tradition, go here.]
Here’s a video from Microsoft on Office for iPad: