Microsoft Word for iPad Gets Touch Word Processing (Mostly) Right

| In-Depth Review

Through the decades, we've never known anything else but Microsoft Word for Windows and Mac. In late March, however, Microsoft brought its monolithic word processing software to the iPad, a totally new paradigm from its PC legacy. Right away we see the familiar workings of Word, including cross-platform file compatibility. But it's also developed with many of the key technologies and User Interface concepts so well appreciated on the iPad. It's a sight to behold.

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There is something very important to know about this suite of apps developed for the iPad. Microsoft claims that the software was designed from the ground up to be office, but at the same time, to be designed for the iPadThat is not just an empty marketing claim.

In this reviewer's opinion, that's exactly what Microsoft achieved. In reality, the company had little choice because it had to comply with all the iOS developer rules and implement the software within the iOS frameworks.

Against that, Microsoft then had to instantiate enough of Word's functionality so that imported files from a PC or Mac can maintain file compatibility and document change tracking can be achieved cross-platform. In my mind, is a distinct achievement, and it's so important for collaborative work.

Review Philosophy

This will be an unconventional review of just the Word app because of all the above. Word is a complex product, so the real question is, how well did Microsoft implement Word on an iPad? (And, as an aside, why iPad first and not Android? Daniel Eran Dilger explains.) Plus, there are some basics to know when it comes to get up and running. These are important, so I'll try to address the key considerations.

Much of this discussion also applies to the other apps in the suite: Excel and PowerPoint.

A section of one of my test documents.

Next:  Part 2

Product: Microsoft Word for iPad

Company: Microsoft

List Price: See explanation in review

Pros:

Beautiful implementation on the iPad. File compatibility with PC and Mac counterparts resulting in identical looking documents. Very good file manager. iTunes file transfer. Great handling of imported images. Document change tracking. Supports emailing of documents and MS OneDrive. Offline, cached editing and later resync. Buit-in Help page and Touch Guide.

Cons:

No direct print capability. Cannot import movie files. No support for Dropbox. No separate PDF manual. Macros not supported.

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Comments

John Dingler, artist

Hello John M.,
Falling all over yourself to praise an apparently good MS product is like a wrongly convicted person, say, Private Chelsea Manning, praising O’Bummer – with Cheney’s blessing – for freeing him.

Instead, we must continue punishing MS for a few more years for years of developing inferior Mac products and theft of Apple’s fundamental IP.

This means that MS deserves no congratulations for doing what is right; It’s expected. And, this one app is a mere one instance of good coding for Apple users, nothing more.

Bryan Kennedy

I’m sure Word is an outstanding iPad app. I’m just not paying for it by the month. EVER.

LaurieD

A balanced review. My early impressions are in line with JM’s. There is good functionality matched with a good looking UI. I would rather have a one-off cost than a subscription, I must say. I’m also very heartened by the release of One Note for Mac, and also the fluid operation of OneDrive between devices.  Kudos to the MS Mac team. Keep up the good work with next release of Office for Mac. Oh, and let’s have some more MS apps for Mac OS and iOS while you’re at it.

Allister Jenks

Why on earth would you want a movie file in a Word document? If you’re delivering a printed document, a movie is pointless. If you’re delivering electronic information, you shouldn’t be using Word. Are we to continue abusing the most abused piece of software in history, now on a whole new platform? Give me strength!

Dadr

Hello John,
Thank you for the review.
For this price, I would have taken an alternative app. Fortunately, my company provides me with an ipad with Office and Beesy already installed. We essentially use Word for creating reports and Beesy for collaborative work (http://www.beesapps.com/beesy-ipad-to-do/ ). I use to include the reports into my meeting notes (from which the meeting minutes are generated) and include some comments before sharing to all the employees so it is important for me to have a robust word processor and I found Word for ipad pretty reliable. I recommend it! (for those who can afford it).

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