As expected, Microsoft introduced Office for iPad live in the Apple App Store as of 11 a.m. PT today. Not a huge surprise, but there it is. The news came a half hour into Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s first public appearance since taking the helm; Day 52, to be exact.
That means millions of Office users — Microsoft claims 1 billion in all — can create and edit Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations on their favorite device. The ability to use Excel, in particular, on an iPad is a key factor for business executives who really want to use their favorite device on their key business spreadsheets. That experience to date has been less than delightful.
Microsoft’s goal, Nadella said, is to drive Office 365 everywhere: across all smartphones, tablets, all devices and provide fidelity to the rich desktop experience. This includes both products and a roadmap for enterprise architecture to handle application management that works across all devices, he noted. That means Office is coming to Android as well as iOS.
The demo showed Excel updates being made and edited all without a keyboard. New perks for Office on iPad include a laser pointer feature when you touch and hold; and the all-important John Madden-style markup capability.
Users can download it for free to access and read their documents but need an Office 365 subscription to unlock editing privileges. OneDrive (ne SkyDrive) acts as the universal repository for all those documents and updates.
Julia White , GM for Office, also demonstrated IT-friendly management using InTune that lets people selectively wipe corporate data from personal devices as needed.
Microsoft also brought together a bunch of its technologies into an overall enterprise mobility suite (you know how this company loves suites) that it said will give IT managers one place to deal with BYOD, identity and access management issues to protect corporate data. Microsoft already fields piece-parts of that but will bring them together in a SKU this summer, Nadella told me after the event.
While today’s event was all about bringing Microsoft applications to non-Windows devices, next week at its Build conference it will talk about Windows — “a huge agenda for us,” Nadella said. One sticky question it will have to address is why iPad users have a touch experience before loyal Windows customers who upgraded to Windows 8.
Given that Office and Windows have grown up as a locked-at-the-hip tandem, it’s hard to see how Microsoft can have it both ways, but it sure seems it’s going to try.
This story was updated throughout Nadella’s press event.