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March 14th, 2014

Microsoft Office for iOS was a rumor for much longer than it’s been a “fact,” but as with all things Microsoft, if Mary Jo Foley says it’s happening, it is. Fact is, Apple could never break into the enterprise world with its Macintosh computers, but has been making serious headway with the iPad as many other large firms have been outfitting employees with tablets.

Meanwhile, with uncharacteristic subtlety, Apple has gradually injected itself into the enterprise, and Microsoft (like other software developers) wouldn’t mind having its flagship product on all those new iPads heading for big companies. Of course, both Apple and Microsoft also win when companies like CRE Rentals add to their iPad rental inventories.

Sneak Peek at Office for iOS

It appears that you’ll need to purchase an annual subscription to Microsoft Office 365 to access Office for iOS when it debuts. (Fortune 500s will get better deals, of course.) Start by either opening an existing document or making a new one (the latter only in Word or Excel, not PowerPoint). There are some usable templates to get you going, but unfortunately this is where the going gets tough. Building a completely new document from scratch is a grueling process, as there are strange limitations throughout. Let’s take a quick look:

Word: This is not the beloved Office for Mac word processor you find when you rent iMac computers. On Office for iOS, Word’s default bullet list limits you to two lines; you cannot add new pictures, replace fonts, or apply new formatting to paragraphs; and the app uses non-standard taps and gestures. Essentially, you can use this version of Word to perform some light editing on documents you made in another, full-featured version of Word.

PowerPoint: Unlike Word and Excel, you cannot create new presentations, only edit the text on template slides. The insurmountable problem, of course, is that you can’t adjust text boxes, fonts, or font attributes. Use more than the provided space and confusion reigns. Again, it may suffice for minor edits but it is by no means an enterprise-level tool.

Excel: The venerable spreadsheet makes out best in this emasculated package. All the functionality missing from Word and PowerPoint are present in Excel. You can make a variety of original charts, shade text cells, auto-adjust number displays, and use standard Excel formulas. There’s a reason that Office is on almost every PC and Mac computer rental in the known world: Excel is the best spreadsheet ever, hands down. It even shines here.

Bottom Line

Unfortunately, as presently constituted, Office for iOS shines in very few other ways. The collaboration features are strong, allowing individual comments on cells, paragraphs, slides, even specific words. Not only can you grab files from OneDrive, but you can also access all of your different SharePoints. If you are heavy into collaborative working, the sharing/commenting features could be useful. Still, it would make sense to consider Google Docs before investing in this low-rent Office.

Is this Apple’s move into the Enterprise world? Only time will tell but in the meantime, CRE Rentals has been renting iPads, Mac equipment and the latest technology to companies large and small. With over 30 years of experience and now 21 locations nationwide, we can get you the rental equipment you need, where you need. Get a quote now or give us a call at 877.266-7725.

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