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

| In-Depth Review

Part 4

5. Editing

The ironic thing about this app is that it's so capable, it virtually invites and demands a Bluetooth keyboard to get the most out of it. Prior to the launch of this app, many expert iPad observers saw the Microsoft Surface tablet as, essentially, an oddball notebook computer, dependent on a keyboard for the Office environment. iPad owners had come to depend, in different ways, with lesser apps, on the virtual keyboard. In other words, the quintessential tablet—the iPad—should seldom need a physical keyboard.

The ribbon is excellent.

I think that, now, a lot of business-oriented iPad owners will be thinking about one of those Brydge or Logitech Bluetooth clamshell keyboards. That wouldn't happen if the implementation of Word on the iPad were ugly, buggy, or dysfunctional. But Microsoft did it right, and that means a keyboard is just a convenient iPad tool, devoid of any larger implications. Pulling this off gracefully, in my mind, is a case for high praise to Microsoft.

I especially liked the crisp and predictable handling of imported images. I never really cared for image manipulation in Word on the Mac. I surmise iOS APIs force things to be done The Right Way.

The conventional ribbon layout is familiar, but clean and balanced. The most common commands are in the Home tab and all commands are context sensitive. For example, with an imported photo, the "Picture" tab only appears when you tap-select the photo.

Microsoft notes that one can dictate using the built-in iOS speech recognition, but I have found the accuracy still too unreliable to be able to dictate a major portion of one of my articles.

The Find and Find and Replace operations are easy to use, intuitive and can be reversed with the undo icon—which has multiple levels of undo. (I asked Microsoft how deep it goes, and I'll update when I get the answer.[UPDATE: approximately 100 undo levels.]) Unfortunately, there is no way to create a new document template, although 15 nice ones are built in.  I don't view this as a major problem in the iPad environment. Also, Word macros are not supported.

Most assuredly, the iPad size constraints and the empowering frameworks have forced the developers to think rightly about how to implement Word in iOS. At this point, going deeper would be basically a feature by feature repetition, and that's not the theme of this review. However, I can affirm that all the features tested worked well.

6. Printing

In this version version, 1.0 (140227), there is no built-in facility to print, using whatever mechanism the user may prefer: AirPrint or, perhaps, Printopia. I asked Microsoft how soon a direct facility to print is coming, but the company doesn't have anything to share at this time. For now, one approach is to email the document that's been created or edited to a PC or Mac that can print the document. Another is to use the EuroSmartz Print n Share app that can print directly from OneDrive.

Given the modern thinking that today's tablet's display is, so to speak, already the "printed" page, I don't see this as a major problem. If Microsoft's philosophy was to focus on the essentials, deferring the nice-to-haves until after version 1.0 was released, then Microsoft chose well.

Next: Part 5

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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