I am happy to be seeing news pop up again about an impending release of Microsoft Office for iOS. Whether it is part of the ongoing rumors or not, I think as a technical writer, iOS user, and somebody who writes about tablet and smartphone topics that it is a real prudent move for Microsoft.
The release of OneNote for iOS and Lync for iOS shows that Microsoft gets iOS and mobile user experience when it comes to porting their apps to iOS. Office 2010 WebApps is another mature offering outside Microsoft’s traditional PC desktop comfort zone. While there is a growing list of capable Office productivity apps like iWork, DocsToGo, and CloudOn for iOS, companies can ill afford the issues that can sometimes arise when you send documents between mobile device and PC especially if an external customer is involved in the transaction. What mobile workers who require an Office suite on their iPad require is a seamless experience when interacting with documents, presentation decks, and spreadsheets.
Here is my (partial) wish list for a Microsoft Office for iOS release:
- Access to SharePoint Team Sites, Office 365, and SkyDrive directly from the File menu on the applications.
- Support for the normal.dotx template format and styles that is consistent with the desktop app.
- Support for some of the basic PowerPoint templates available in the desktop app.
- Better than average document fidelity when round tripping MS Word documents from Office on an iPad to a Windows PC and the Mac.
Above all, the flexibility of authoring from Microsoft Office on a Mac or PC, then to Office 2010 WebApps, backed up by the option of using Microsoft Office on the iPad could play real well for some mobile workforces and geographically dispersed project teams and go that much further to seal the ubiquity of Microsoft Office inside the corporate enterprise.
A release of a solid and usable Microsoft Office for the iPad could also nudge me further towards using my iPad for more writing. While I’ve broken past my hesitations about using the iPad for note taking, I still only use it to edit and review documents not for new wholesale content creation.
What features do you want to see in Microsoft Office for the iPad?