1. Full vs. Limited Version
The first thing to know is that Word is a free download from the Apple App Store. This version can open and view existing documents but not edit documents.
Features with and without a subscription.
With an Office 365 Home Premium subscription (US$99/yr or $9.99/mo), new documents can be created and all documents can be edited. I view that as a very sensible compromise in a world where customers have come to expect low cost apps in the App Store, but serious users are also willing to pay serious money.
If the subscription, according to Microsoft "you will still be able to view Office documents with Office for iPad. You will no longer be able to create and edit documents until you renew your subscription. You can reactivate Office for iPad by renewing your subscription, tapping Activate in the app, and signing in with a valid Microsoft account. Your data is only removed from the iPad when you uninstall Office, so you can still see your documents on the iPad after your subscription expires. Your Office content will remain accessible via OneDrive."
Also, if the subscriptuin lapses, Microosft notes: "You can still access your documents via OneDrive and access them from any PC or Mac. Documents that were saved on the iPad can be copied to a Mac or PC using iTunes." And editing can continue there.
If you have an Office 365 subscription, just log in at first launch and access all the features. If not, the app defaults to view only mode. [UPDATE: On April 15, Microsoft announced the renaming of Office 365 Home Premium to Office 365 Home, added Office 365 Personal and added new pricing.]
2. File Compatibility and Formatting
I imported several rather complex Word documents from my Mac to the iPad Air, and they all looked terrific. The customary blemishes and irregularities that one might expect from a less than stellar import were just not there. By the way, one way to do that is the customary IOS email method: 1) Email the document to the iPad, 2) tap and hold the icon in the email and 3) Select Word as the target. Another is the standard iTunes file transfer method which works as expected.
Importing a .docx document to the iPad
I was impressed by the implementation because in the process of importing some rather complex documents, Word never crashed, and it rendered perfectly. That's pretty good for a version 1.0 — but truth be told, Microsoft had plenty of debug time to get this right.
A complex PR document with lots of different fonts, styles, URLs, bullet lists and image
placements came across perfectly.
Next: Part 3