This afternoon, Microsoft introduced Office for the iPad. You can download the apps for free and use them to view existing documents in Microsoft’s cloud product, SkyDrive, or you can pay $99 per year to enable the apps to allow for editing when you subscribe to Office 365.
Reviews of the apps themselves are mostly favorable, indicating that they are on par with Apple’s iWork apps, which are now free (to purchasers of an iPad after September 1st). One educational technology expert that I follow (Fraser Speirs) has already stated that Office for iPad puts Google Apps in a distant third place as usable on the iPad.
Let’s be honest here: I don’t know of many iPad users who have been holding their breath for Office; perhaps they were in 2010 or 2011, most have moved on. Schools, by and large, have moved to GAFE (Google Apps for Education), and with Apple’s new pricing strategies this past fall, iWork does most of what a normal person needs an office suite to do; on the iPad, on a MacBook, or via iCloud.
And most people aren’t going to spend $99 per year for an office suite when they can get similar functionality free from Google or Apple (or even Open Office) on a Mac or Windows PC.
It might be a very good app…but that model has expired, and few schools and companies are dependent on Office at this point. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Office for the iPad will be a bust, mainly because of the cost, and the fact that it is a yearly cost. That’s too bad if it truly is a solid set of apps for the device.