Many lawyers using iPad's in their practice wondered if the day would ever come that Microsoft released native versions of its Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) for the iPad. That day is here. Not only are the Office apps available now, they are free, sort of.
Anyone can download Word, Excel, or PowerPoint to their iPad from the App Store and use them to view Office documents, spreadsheets, and slide shows. However, in order to unlock the ability to create and edit Office files, you need to register your copy of the apps using a Microsoft account that has a valid Office 365 subscription.
I have been happily cruising along with my traditionally purchased and locally installed copy of Microsoft Office 2010. I didn't see the need to upgrade to Office 365. However, I was sufficiently impressed with the appearance and features listed in the initial on-line reviews that I purchased an Office 365 subscription just so I could fully use these new Office apps on my iPad. (Note: You can get a free 30-day trial of Office 365 if you just want to try it and the full features of Office for iPad). I don't even plan to install Office 365 of my PC, at least not right away. Time will tell if this was a good investment.
Technically, this isn't the first version of Office that can run on the iPad. Last year Microsoft released a stripped down version of Office Mobile for the iPhone. Like most iPhone apps, it can run in 2x mode on the iPad. But it is so devoid of features that there are many better alternatives for reading and editing Office filed on the iPad, such as Documents to Go and Kingsoft Office, my favorite until now. Fortunately, Office for iPad has must-have features for legal use such as footnotes and the ability to track changes.
Microsoft promises formatting fidelity when you move documents between your PC or Mac and your iPad. I have not used Office for iPad long enough yet to know if this promise is fulfilled. If it is, then Office for iPad may have been worth the wait.