Microsoft Unveils Office for iPad in Big Mobile Move

Image: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks at a Microsoft event in San Francisco. Nadella introduced Microsoft Office for iPad and the Enterprise Mobility Suite, a comprehensive set of cloud services. ROBERT GALBRAITH / Reuters

At long last, Microsoft Office is now available for iPad.

Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella unveiled a version of Office designed for the iPad at his first public event on Thursday in San Francisco. It's part of Nadella's push to bring Microsoft into the mobile era -- a vision he detailed during the presentation.

The Microsoft Office suite of Word, Excel and PowerPoint for iPad will be available starting at 11 p.m. PT Thursday in Apple's App Store.

Office for iPad is available and free for customers who pay to subscribe to Office 365, Microsoft's cloud-based Office program that starts at $70 per year. (Non-subscribers can access a read-only version of Office for iPad.)

"It's a magical coming together of the cloud and mobile," Nadella said.

Microsoft Office general manager Julia White demonstrated each of the three programs, and she stressed that the new suite "is definitely not the Windows app ported to the iPad."

Instead, she pointed out tablet-focused features like a numeric keyboard in Excel and a touch-enabled "laser pointer" for PowerPoint slides. Users can also move files from desktops to mobile without issue.

After the event concluded, Apple CEO Tim Cook welcomed Office to the App Store.

Nadella's mobile-focused future

Tablet-focused services may not be a huge strategic move for most technology companies. But for Microsoft, Office for iPad represents a major shift under Nadella.

The new CEO has been at the helm only 52 days -- a point he noted on Thursday -- but Nadella has been quick revamp Microsoft's plans for the future.

Under Nadella's predecessor, Steve Ballmer, critics slammed Microsoft for being slow-footed in the mobile space.


Even as devices like smartphones and tablets overtook the PC, Microsoft delayed putting Office on competitors' mobile platforms -- leaving an opportunity for competitors like Evernote, Box and Dropbox to create go-to apps for productivity on mobile devices.

Microsoft finally launched Office Mobile for the iPhone last June, which, like the iPad version, is available for Office 365 subscribers. Nadella's first few weeks on the job have been dedicated to accelerating that small step into mobile.

Box CEO Aaron Levie applauded Nadella's announcement on Thursday.

“We’re not bound in fact to one device, one place and one time,” Nadella said during Thursday's event.

In addition to Office for iPad, Nadella has also introduced a new "personal" version of Office 365 for $70 per year, which lets users access Office on one device (compared with $100 annually for a premium subscription for five devices). Earlier in March, Microsoft released a Mac version of its cloud-based note-taking app OneNote.

The Office for iPad event came just a few days before Microsoft's developer conference, Build, kicks off April 2. Microsoft is expected to reveal a Windows update, and other rumors include new Nokia devices, a Surface mini tablet and a Siri voice-assistant rival called "Cortana."

Nadella called Windows a "massive agenda for us," and he said Microsoft has several plans in the works to better tie users, developers and IT managers.

“Today is just one aspect of our strategy," he said.