I’m having a bit of a Microsoft love-in at the moment! I don’t think this is based on some sort of nostalgic notion either as I’m pretty resistant to sentimentality at the best of times.
So where shall we begin? Basically, I’ve owned an iPad since 2011. First I got the iPad 2, then 18 months later upgraded to an iPad 4. I liked having an iPad around, but to be honest, I never used it for anything more than checking emails, surfing and playing the occasional game. More often than not, I’d reach for my iPhone mainly because it’s lighter and easier to use.
So if my iPhone lets me do those things, what’s the use in an iPad? I needed to work out where this large and heavy tablet fitted into my workflow.
Then, last weekend I decided to use a free trial of Office 365. I’m not averse to subscription software as I’m part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud, which by the way is awesome. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not Microsoft’s biggest fan despite my recent posts. Despite Windows 8 looking very nice, I consider Windows XP to be their last good operating system, although Windows 98 was my favourite.
Then it clicked. Office on my iPad. Suddenly my iPad was useful again. I’ve been using it for the last few days and it works so, so well. Apple’s iWork apps pale in comparison in terms of ease of use and functionality. Suddenly I was able to work on documents on the train using my iPad which opens up documents, faithful to their original layout. Many times I’ve opened up a fairly complex layout in Pages on my iPad to exclaim ‘WTF?’ as tables, images and other things were strewn about all over the place. Office for iPad handles documents very well.
What has struck me is that Microsoft offer a pretty good deal here. Complete access to their office suite on 5 tablets and 5 computers (you can also share with family members) and 1TB of cloud storage for £7.99 a month. Have a look at what other companies charge for that amount of storage alone and you’ll see you have a good deal.
However, I can completely see why people wouldn’t want to pay this. The cloud isn’t for everyone and many people are resistant to renting software, especially for occasional users. Microsoft would do well to offer people to pay a one-off fee for access to their iPad apps. I wouldn’t scoff at paying £20 per app for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Offering people a choice would get more people on board.
I’m just glad I’ve found a purpose for my iPad again. Well done Microsoft.
Update: As of last night, Microsoft now let users create and edit documents to a basic level for free on the iPad and iPhone, so now an Office 365 subscription isn’t even needed. Give it a try!