Office for iPad: Does it live up to the hype?

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Redmond has finally released Microsoft Office for the iPad, nearly four years after the first-generation iPad was released in April 2010. 

The apps, which were announced last Thursday by new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, are free for download in the Apple app store. Users can download Word, Excel and PowerPoint--all in separate apps. 

While the apps are free, and allow users to view previously created documents from Office on their iPads, users must have Office 365 subscriptions to edit and create documents, spreadsheets and presentations on their tablets, according to PC World.

As we've previously reported, the personal version of Office 365—for a single--is $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year, while the Home version--for a household--is $9.99 per month, or $99.99 per year.

ZDNet's James Kendrick said he was happily surprised by the app suite, which topped the free app store downloads after just four days. 

"My thoughts were that Office for iPad would either be failed full ports of the mammoth suite, something inappropriate for the iPad, or would be so stripped down that they'd offer little value to iPad owners," Kendrick writes. "After playing around with the Office apps on the iPad, I concede that I was wrong. Microsoft has totally built the iPad versions of the apps to offer just the right features to make them a worthy addition to iPad owners' tool box."

And while the new apps have been touted as home runs by Kendrick and many others, not everyone is 100 percent sold.  

As Jason O'Grady also mentioned in ZDNet, reviewers have complained about thing such as lack of basic spelling and grammar tools, prolonged file downloads, lack of storage and lack of printing. Microsoft does support storage options, but again only through Office 365. 

Another drawback is the lack of an Outlook app, which may be due to Microsoft's worries about competing with Apple's built-in Mail service on the tablet.

There is currently an Outlook Web Access app for the iPad, but it requires users to have an Office 365 for Business subscription to work. 

It will be interesting to see how Microsoft's app suite competes with Apple's  iWork package--which includes things like Pages, Numbers and Keynote--over the coming months. As of October of last year, iWork now comes free on all iOS and Mac devices, perhaps because Apple was readying itself for this new competition. 

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