Office and iPad: Together at Last

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — March 28, 2014

It’s the day all Office-like apps feared— Office for iPad is here. And it’s not just any old Office app, but one specifically designed for the tablet. Microsoft also announced its Enterprise Mobility Suite, a set of cloud services to help businesses manage corporate data and services on the devices people use at work and at home.

CEO Speaks
On the day of the big announcements, CEO Satya Nadella took to the Official Microsoft Blog to set the message and reiterate his vision, reminding people that his approach is “mobile-first cloud-first.”

He is often asked how these two things can be first?

“I don’t think of the cloud and mobile as two things. They are two facets of one thing. The cloud was created to enable mobility. And mobile devices are really uninteresting without the cloud,” he wrote.

Nadella believes that mobile without cloud is limiting and that the cloud without mobile is mostly “latent potential.” When they meet, there is “magic.” How is Microsoft enabling this now? In part, by creating a seamless experience.

The extent of devices, users, software and systems will continue to expand, and the evolution of Windows seeks to maximize the capabilities of all these things. “But just because human activity will continue to be multidevice doesn’t mean we must tolerate islands of isolated capability. Instead, device diversification dramatically increases the importance of creating a more seamless experience. And the way we get there is through the cloud,” he explained.

The cloud, according to Nadella, will get everyone and everything on the same page (and connected), while still personalizing the user experience. It’s also how the tablet becomes a “powerful tool” and the new Microsoft vision is to deliver the best cloud-connected experience on every device, ergo Office for iPad.

Microsoft is also making the same platforms it uses to develop and deliver its cross-platform services available to developers. They can use Azure Mobile Services to build back-ends for iOS, Android and Windows devices. Azure AD API enables single sign-on and other directory services. There are APIs for all components of Office 365 so that any mobile app on any device platform can seamlessly access user data, according to Nadella.

Keeping the business in mind, Microsoft is offering “simple support” via its new Enterprise Mobility Suite to make manage and secure these devices. “So employees are free to go where they want, without data ending up where it shouldn’t. And it can also extend your enterprise identity to other apps and services like, Box and Google Docs. Now, the same cloud that helps people get more done with less work will help IT do the same,” he noted.

Office for iPad – specifically Word, PowerPoint and Excel have been designed for the touch experience,  but with the familiar look and feel. Free versions of the apps, enable reading of Word documents, viewing of Excel data and presenting with PowerPoint.

The company stated that an Office 365 subscription, enables creating and editing as well. The content and formatting will be maintained across Office on PC, Mac, tablet and phone. Documents can be accessed via OneDrive and OneDrive for Business.

Office Mobile for iPhone and Android phones are also free for everyone for viewing and editing Office content on the go. Office Mobile is available in the App Store and Google Play.

Word, images, tables, SmartArt, footnotes and equations are all formatted. Excel features like formulas, charts, sparklines, conditional formatting and filters are available. PowerPoint presentations have the usual transitions, animations, speaker notes and more. When presenting, a built-in laser pointer, pens and highlighters can also be used.

The Ribbon layout and experience is familiar, with the most common commands under Home, and Chart commands automatically show up when you select a chart. The large touch areas on the Ribbon and in overlay menus make it simple to create, edit and format documents using only touch, as well as resize an rotate objects and images.

No keyboard or mouse is required.

In addition, the apps work together and enable collaboration for multiple users. Word documents can track changes, have threaded comments and accept or reject edits all right on the iPad. The apps seamlessly integrate with Microsoft’s cloud services.

Enterprise Suite
Do you need help to embrace BYOD and the move to Saas? The new Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) provides device, identity and access management with data protection from the cloud. EMS includes Windows Intune, Azure Active Directory Premium and Azure Rights Management Services, to give IT the tools they need to help protect corporate assets and enable personal devices.

The new Azure Active Directory Premium delivers cloud-based identity and access management with single sign-on to over 1,000 popular software as a service (SaaS) applications, self-service tools for users, and machine-learning-driven security reporting and anomaly detection. With Azure Active Directory Premium customers can reduce their IT costs and more easily manage their users, groups and SaaS application access.

Microsoft also announced additional enhancements to Windows Intune, including support for the Samsung KNOX platform, Remote to My PC capability for Android and iOS devices, and support for the next update to Windows Phone, continuing Microsoft’s commitment to cloud-first mobile device management across all devices.


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