Today Microsoft has confirmed that Office is on its way to the iPad. In fact, the entire suite (Word, Excel, and Powerpoint) is available now for free, with a subscription service available for full functionality.
Word is in many ways the same word processing program that you’re no doubt already familiar with, only retooled for touch screens. Tables, charts, graphics, a table of contents, and all those other useful features are available on your iPad. Charts and other images that have been imported from Excel can be edited from within the app, and text will dynamically adjust around these items as you drag them around the page. Co-op features are also built in, which will allow multiple users to edit a document simultaneously in real-time across a number of different devices. No worries about things getting too confusing, though. It’s also possible to display markup so that you can see what edits have been made, have conversations with your fellow users within the margins, and so on.
Excel carries over all the familiar features from its PC counterpart, along with the obvious changes for a touch-based interface. You can sort through chart layouts quickly and easily, and the app will even make recommendations for you with samples that use your data. Even the keyboard has been adjusted to cater to iPad users, with a customized numeric keyboard that should make data entry a lot easier.
PowerPoint allows you to import and edit your slides and images, includes all those popular transitional effects everybody seems to love, and has added some new functions that are specific to touch screens. First, you can call up a digital laser pointer by tapping and holding your finger on the screen, in order to make it easier to point out specific elements in a presentation. Second, you can add annotations by drawing highlights directly on the screen.
All of the apps in the Office 365 series also share data across multiple devices (iPhone, iPad, PC, etc) using Microsoft’s OneDrive service. The entire collection is available now, for free, and uses the Office Mobile subscription-based model. So you can opt to pay $9.99/month or $99.99/year (family) or between $60.00/user/year and $180/user/year (business) in order to access the complete list of features across Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.